First published March 2018 I had a student ask today if their writing would be interesting to other folks. I answered, as I always do, with, “You & I are horrible judges of what might be interesting. Put it out there & see.” Publish pretty much everything you write because you can’t predict what is going to be popular. There is a lower bar for quality, but barring dishonesty and literally unreadable prose, everything else should go out somewhere. Incompleteness is no excuse. Publish the first part now and the other parts later.
I first started blogging back in 2002 (or 2003?) because my boss at the time, Jeremy Allaire, was very excited about blogging as a medium and wanted his whole engineering team at Macromedia to "start a blog and write something every day!". It became part of my daily work routine: take notes about what I do and what I think and what I read -- and compose something, short or long, every day. I had an alarm in my work calendar at 10:30 am "blog!". And for several years I kept it up. Sometimes it was just a sentence or two, or a link; sometimes it was an essay. I changed platforms several times over the last two decades and a lot of that writing is only available on The Wayback Machine, I suspect. I have an almost complete archive of one database of posts (from maybe 2004 to about 2014, I think) and occasionally republish pieces from that -- but I work in a completely different technology stack these days so a lot of the nuts and bolts of the old blog aren't relevant to many people anymore (or so I tell myself).
I was nearly always surprised at which posts got engagement and which didn't. Sometimes I'd spend hours writing what I thought was an excellent, insightful post only to get... crickets... and sometimes a quick paragraph I'd dashed off would generate a flood of commentary and response pieces on other blogs. As you say, you can never predict what will catch fire and what won't...
p.s., Stephen King's "On Writing" has similar advice: write something every day -- it might be good, it might not be good, and you might not be the best judge of that.
Hey Kent, your insights on publishing everything resonate so well. Embracing unpredictability and putting your work out there can often lead to unexpectedly impactful results.
Come to terms with the unpredictability of the great online game*, do the work to fill your distribution, and pay attention to the feedback. Love it, thank you for sharing this.
I'd like to add another argument to motivate people to publish. Following your observation that "You & I are horrible judges of what might be interesting," no one can know a priori what can be useful and at what time. Some of my most successful technical writing came from random findings I posted just to practice my writing.**
We are all in this together and one could say we have a duty to share the bit of knowledge we developed so that others can build on top of them.
* See https://www.notboring.co/p/the-great-online-game
** See https://giolodi.com/2022/04/fantastic-few-and-how-to-find-them/
Just curious Kent if you recommend this platform as good starting place? I see you also posting on LinkedIn and you mention FB and Twitter.