On blog posts: trying to write more

Dec 6th, 2022

752 words (~3 minutes)

It took me roughly 7 months to write my latest post on accessibility. I’ve done a lot of other things, both personally, and at work, but you wouldn’t know it looking at looking this website. This unproductive feeling has been fairly frustrating.

I see a lot of good posts that encourage people to blog more. I wrote a few short blog posts before 2022, but at the beginning of the year, I posted a two-part write up of readability scores and my opinions of how to use them best. Those posts got a lot of positive responses when I posted them on twitter (I deleted my Twitter account, so I don’t have the conversations anymore), and I had several people directly encourage me to write more posts, which felt pretty nice.

There was an immediate problem though; the readability posts were a lot of work. I had to:

  • find and gather all of the relevant readability scores, starting with some simple wikipedia binges, and then slowing picking up more and more through Google Research to find more modern scores
  • read through each of the papers I cited at least once
  • make each entry read well individually and cohesively as a whole
  • link each different aspect of the scores to each other, showing how many have a similar basis

All of that took a while, and the work to be done kept expanding as I wrote more. While I have a lot of other things that I want to write about, I know I want to take a similar approach and do a lot of background research on each topic, so I know what I am talking about.

I started writing my recent accessibility post back in April, when I also started working on accessibility in docassemble. I would do a lot of research into accessibility standards, but not really have a good grasp of ARIA yet, so I’d set the post down while I tried to get better at that. Or I’d have all the writing I wanted, but the post felt dry and not very useful, so I wanted to have more practical case studies of web accessibility. Or I’d want to do a full manual audit of our website to make sure that we were compliant with everything (that one I had to delay for the second part).

There was always more work to be done. Eventually, I was able to add a whole new layer of accessibility to a combobox, edit all of the sections to my content, and make sure my website was as accessible as it could be, so I wasn’t a hypocrite. But it took an agonizing 7 months.

Polished posts and sketches

I want to write more, but I don’t have enough time to polish everything to be as good as my last few posts. My solution to this problem is a fairly simple one; I’ve split up my “blog” page into two parts, “polished” and “sketches”. That’s it. As simple as it is, it frees me up to write off-the-cusp posts like this (which took me 50 minutes to write the first draft, and another 35 to edit) and publish them without taking hours to edit and re-edit.

I want to treat this blog more like a digital garden; I’ll come back to things in the sketches section and add to them, removing metaphorical weeds and doing small edits and additions. For the posts that I am really interested in, I might end up doing all of the re-editing and polishing necessary to move them to the polished section, declaring it “done”.

I considered publishing my Obsidian vault, the entirety of my personal notes. They’re much shorter notes, sometimes just describing topics in my own words, and sometimes elaborating on ideas that I’ve read about, connecting them to my line of work. I’ve seen this called Learning in Public before. However, I appreciate the ability to think and learn in private too; the performative aspect of doing everything in public would very easily burn me out. I’m hoping that making a space where I can choose which ideas I want to grow in public will help.

Apologies to those who view my blog through RSS though (I have no idea how many there are of you); the draft posts might pop to the top of my list every now and then with only a few paragraphs changed.