I try and write everyday, and I aim to publish every day. The magic of being able to schedule posts in advance means that those two statements aren’t necessarily the same thing.
But one of the many, many advantages of writing daily is that it is easy to convince yourself that you need not worry about writing well. It’s bad enough, you tell yourself, that you have to write every day, along with everything else that you have to do. That you are able to do it at all is a miracle – and you can certainly cut yourself some slack in terms of not having to worry about writing well too.
Plus, it is such a hassle to write well. Writing well means lots of things, and I don’t think I will be able to master making a list of things that you need to achieve in order to say that you have written well. Leave alone mastering each item on the list! There’s thinking through what you want to write, and then there’s doing the research required to both improve your thinking, and also confirm it.
Then there’s the structuring of the piece – the order in which you want to lay out your ideas. Followed by trying to figure out how to start the piece, and how to assemble a fitting coda for it. The appropriate sentence structure, choosing just the right word, getting the punctuation right. And finally, the editing once you’ve written it. Spelling mistakes galore, typos that are spelling mistakes contextually speaking but don’t show up as one (‘hare brained schemes’ can become ‘are grained schemes’, of you’re looking for an example)* – it’s an endless list.
And so the guy who’s been telling you about Goodhart’s Law for all these years ends up falling prey to it himself. ‘Must post everyday’ is the target that ends up sacrificing quality for quantity. Not always, mind you. There are days when I’m very chuffed about a piece I’ve written, and everything is just so – but those days don’t occur as frequently as one would have wanted.
Which is a very long, whimsical and self-indulgent way to explain some of the reasons I liked Mohit’s post so much.
It is short and it is to the point. It is simple to read, an important requirement for an explainer that purports to make an issue simple for the layperson. It has analogies – lots of them, but all are relatable, understandable, and simply explained. It takes an issue du jour, and it seeks to make the issue more understandable without prejudicing the reader. It ends with an entirely applicable quote – which itself is preceded by a perfect way to end the essay in its own right.
And just when I was done thinking all of these things, I come across the first comment, which is by the author himself. Not only has he re-read what he’s posted, but he’s also spotted an error, and he apologizes for it.
I’m trying to get better at not just posting everyday, but at posting at a higher quality everyday. Which is why I enjoyed reading his post very much.
Final point: I’m not saying you should try to write like this everyday, but the more you train yourself to write ‘explainers’ the better you’ll get at teaching. And don’t bother trying to tell me that you don’t want to become a teacher. Everybody is a teacher. A manager is a teacher, a parent is a teacher, an elder sibling is a teacher, a group leader in school is a teacher, and failing all that, you are by definition a teacher to your own self.
Write simple explainers, and use great analogies along the way, for your own sake. And if you’re wondering how, read Mohit Satyanand on how Share Prices Fuel Growth.
*Congratulations if you spotted the second example in that sentence, and yes, it was in this case a very deliberate one. But that is note always the case, alas.