Over the last couple of months I've found myself writing a lot of posts that will likely never be published. The topics are varied as is the general vibe of the article, but one thread that can be found in each of them is a type of cynicism that rarely results in anything positive. Negativity towards an idea is not necessarily a bad thing, of course. Constructive criticism is still criticism, which is often viewed negatively by the receiver, but when it's actionable then something good can come from the critique. Every so often I'll look at these abandoned posts and find the pessimism to be little more than frustrated venting about Facebook, hype around an unproven technology in its infancy, or the state of the Internet. Stuff that's not even worthy of a Digg.
The writing process that I've tried to follow for the last 11 months has been pretty simple:
- Jot down one or two sentences on a possible topic during the day
- Choose one topic during "writing hour"
- See where it goes
- If it's not horrible, press publish
For the most part this does work. On an average day there will be five or six topics that I have quickly put into Evernote or Byword. The one that seems the most complete is selected and the others left aside. Over 330 of the most recent posts on this site have been written in this manner … which certainly explains the "stream of consciousness" style of writing that permeates the blog. However, with less than a month to go before completing my goal of writing a post a day for 365 days, I'm seeing some patterns in how I've managed to accomplish this streak. Just over 70% of the posts I write that contain more than a single paragraph are cast away, most of which are written on Thursday and Friday. At the start of this challenge, the percentage was much smaller.
Does this level of waste exist in other places, too? I wonder. Looking at my commit history on GitHub, there does not seem to be a disproportionate amount of deletions from one day to the next, nor is there a pattern that shows more commits taking place at the start or middle of the week. If anything, my coding has remained frighteningly consistent for this past year.
How about body weight? I've recently started measuring myself twice a day just to see how a mostly-sedentary life is treating me. Interestingly enough, I've lost 5kg in the last year and generally gain weight on Sunday and Monday before losing it again Tuesday through Saturday.
Sleep? Thursday and Friday are the two worst-quality nights according to SleepCycle, so there's a good chance that my general state of mind near the end of the work week is more negative than positive. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, though. More data is needed.
One thing I would like to do over the coming month, however, is spend less time writing posts that will only be disposed of. If the vibe early on is too negative, it will be best to just cut the idea loose and move on to something else.