By the Numbers

A question of remarkable unimportance popped into my head while showering today and it was one that I figured warranted a little bit of investigation. Over the last couple of months, I've felt as though my blog posts, while not improving in cohesion or clarity, are getting longer as a result of the daily writing cycle. Because there is the admittedly arbitrary personal expectation that a new article is both written and published on the same day, the subconscious mind is working on the question of the day's topic. As a result, even when I'm not particularly charged on the subject matter, it's completely feasible to sit down and write anywhere from 500 to 850 words. Issues that strike a cord can be two or three times longer after a bit of rereading and rewriting. However, the problem with feeling something is the case is that it's a subjective measurement based solely on perceptions clouded by a fallible memory. Fortunately, it takes almost no effort to get this information out of the database with a quick and dirty SQL query1.

Post History

The blue bars represent the number of posts published in a given month, while the line represents the average number of characters published for that month. December 2019's sharp rise can be ignored as there was just one published blog post at the time of the data collection.

So, am I writing longer posts now that I'm sticking to a daily schedule? The data shows the answer pretty clearly: no.

Some interesting patterns are visible in this chart, though. For about 18 months in 2008 and 2009 I was writing more but publishing less often. This was back when I was trying hard to become a "professional blogger". Posts would be sketched out on paper with mind maps before being written, and then they'd sit for a day or two so that I could go back later to revise them with a slight bit of detachment. This process was abandoned mid-to-late 2009 when I started to really participate on Twitter.

As for the spike in the middle, that was during the first few months of Noteworthy, the Evernote-linked blogging engine that pre-dated 10Centuries. The goal at the time was to work out all the kinks in the system so that it could be part of the 2012 Evernote Cup competition. Unfortunately, "stuff happened" and I was unable to participate. The platform did continue, however, and eventually became what it is today.

Seeing charts like this to quantify what is essentially a pastime can be quite interesting, but they're not something I'd want to look at very often. The numbers I seek now are simple: (a minimum of) 1 post written and released on 1 day. If there are more, that's great. If the content is 10,000 words in length? That's amazing. If the post is just an eight-word haiku? That's fine, too. Measuring more than this will quickly drain the joy I feel while considering, composing, and publishing.

  1. Here is the query if you're interested in seeing how the numbers were pulled. All I did was filter on blog posts written by me as myself across all of my sites from October 2016 to present:

    SELECT DATE_FORMAT(po.`publish_at`, '%Y-%m') as `period`, COUNT(po.`id`) as `posts`, AVG(LENGTH(po.`value`)) as `avg_chars` FROM `Post` po WHERE po.`is_deleted` = 'N' and po.`persona_id` = 1 and po.`type` = 'post.article' GROUP BY `period` ORDER BY `period` DESC

    The question needn't be analysed with any seriousness. This was, after all, a question of "remarkable unimportance".