Food for Thought

30 June 2008, Monday – Process, perfection or procrastination?
Camberley, UK

Perfection or Completion? Perhaps it is more critical an issue for those who make their living off writing or their blogs; I think it might be worth the rest of us thinking about it. I have seen discussions about whether someone is a process knitter or a product knitter and there are those who definitely fall to one extreme or other of the spectrum. In reality, it is probably another Bell Curve with most of us falling within those 2 standard deviations.

But perfection or completion is a bit different. Besides a variety of knitting, spinning and weaving blogs I dally at some tech, sci-fi and writing locations. Jason got me thinking. Does the need for perfection in writing a post mean that you take so much time that it doesn’t happen? Does the desire for perfection slow me down and insert delays? Is that why I hit procrastinating streaks on the publish button push? Is fear of failure/being ignored compounding the problem? Is a post with no comments a failure?

Blogging has gone from being a simple journal to a social discourse. In normal day to day events we get feedback from those around us and look askance at those who wander around talking to themselves. If you write something and no one comments, is that the same as talking to yourself? That post still might be read and have an impact. One of the commentors on Jason’s board mentioned Heilein’s rules of writing: write, finish what you write and sell it. If you don’t write a post every once in a while, then no one can read it.

On the old BBSs, USENET or mailing lists, lurking was the common accepted practice. Most posted only when they had something to say on content boards. A few seemed to have to say something on every topic; the delete key was useful in eliminating all those me too comments.

The importance was social community and shared interests. This carried over into early webpage development where people set up pages relating to one thing or another, most communications being email and out of sight of the rest of that website’s readers. Keeping content fresh and current was the key to hits.

With blogging, most enable comments to facilitate feedback or discussion. For any subject, there are some well known SMEs (subject matter experts) who draw a high readership and extensive comments. There are some subjects that lend themselves well to comments and sharing and others where you just find the particular fact and scoot off. Leaving a comment on a post several years old is just not always in the forefront of your brain, especially if you don’t know how their software platform handles comments to old posts.

There are those gems of posts I find on Tikkunknitter, Treppenwitz, or Widowswalk but I am as guilty as everyone else about reading without contributing.

I realized early on that blogging is one of my hobbies. It is not my life or career. I can then write what I like, track projects and life, and just try to keep page design under control. There is no way that I really want hundreds of responses to every post. I appreciate those who do take the time to write the occasional word. Those are precious gifts.

But if I put things off, because it is not completely what I wanted to say then the post doesn’t get written. If too many days go buy it would seem natural to have readership fall away.

I don’t think I have to worry about perfection, not with my posts frequently sounding like I was asleep or thinking in Gerglish while writing.


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6 Responses to Food for Thought

  1. Holly,

    You make a great point. Your goals for your blog (or knitting or any pursuit for that matter) will affect this perfectionism phenomenon. Sadly, I think I default most of my pursuits, hobby or not, to the “I have to be the best and do it to the Nth degree” category.

    This questions you posed got me thinking: Is a post with no comments a failure? I think the answer is no ultimately, but I’m going to give that one some more thought.

  2. ruth says:

    I rather like Gerglish! That’s what my family spoke when they were not speaking Hungarish.

  3. kv says:

    maybe it is ok not to do it for the comments. after all, they are a weak form of social discourse, usually. sometimes funny (i see you, ruth!), but more often not very interesting. and not much of a way to start a conversation. i find mself just counting them as tho’ it were an achievement to get them, and then feeling silly. there are some more gratifying things to do than colect blog comments. keep writing whateer you want. some of us are reading and not necessarily saying much.

  4. Sarah says:

    You’ve got me thinking now, and I’m really not sure where I stand on the issue — but I will continue to ponder it.

    I think when I started my blog, I was doing it more for myself, because certainly no one was reading it. It was more a way of writing down things I’d done, changes I’d made, techniques I’d tried, etc., and I chose the electronic format because it’s so present in our lives these days. Eventually, though, blogging became part of being in a community to me. It’s how I update my friends in my knitting groups what’s going on; it’s how I share with the knitting world at large the discoveries I’ve made or lessons I’ve learning. I’m certainly more conscious of what I’m writing and strive to make it as complete and correct (I don’t know that I could ever get perfection) as possible. There are days when I don’t feel like I have anything to say that would be worth anyone’s while to read, and those are the days I don’t post. Instead, I save up what I’d like to say until there’s enough to make a coherent post.

    I have mixed feelings about commenting. On the one hand, I like to comment on others’ blogs to try to communicate with them and build community in that respect. But on the other hand, I don’t feel it’s useful for me to comment when I don’t have anything to add to the discussion (similar to the “me too”s you mentioned). And then there are the “superblogs” — Yarn Harlot, etc. — that get so many comments that mine would just be piling on. I know Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says she reads all her comments, but if she gets several hundred for a particular post, and she posts just about every day, it doesn’t seem like my comment will be missed if it’s not there.

  5. Carmen says:

    The question of purpose – what are blogs for, what is my blog for – is the key consideration. My answer to that question is evolving, but it does not have to do with acquiring comment counts. I may in fact find a lot of commenting, particularly by strangers, to be a little intimidating. I started my blog to write about widowhood, as it weaves into and changes my life. I don’t write a blog entry without a focus, a topic, a goal, and I don’t have much time to write, so I may work out an entry for a few days before writing it. All this might be an interesting topic to blog about — I will put it on the list. Thanks for bringing it up, Holly.

  6. I’m so glad you find some of my posts interesting and inspiring. This electronic world is an amazing medium for new and interesting contacts and conversation!

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