In Defence of Almost NaNoWriMo

   metaprogrammingNaNoWriMo

Not 1/6th of the way in to Almost NaNoWriMo, and I'll admit to feeling a little defensive. I was originally thinking of this article this morning in terms of being a spot-check or reflection on the exercise so far, but if I'm being brutally honest, it was a couple of comments that have been on a slow burn in the back of my mind since last night:

Now please don't hear what I'm not saying: I'm not judging the intent of the commenter, just the approach and the potential results. On the latter part, I won't pretend to speak for anyone else - I lost a bit of the fire and enthusiasm gained from starting the endevour, finding some kindred spirits, and seeing the encouraging comments.

For the first commenter I certainly understand the sentiment.

Nobody has an enlightening though or experience every day. This would be a great source of spam. Please don't.

I've been around the internet for a while. I've got a twitter account. I'm fully aware of what daily, thoughtless posting can produce and wholeheartedly would not encourage more of the same.

I'd also argue that it's not impossible to live a life well examined. A life where every day holds one or more new bits of information, new insights on existing information, and/or new perspectives. Many of those could be shared in short or long form in a challenge like this. For that matter, I could easily see someone grabbing one of the daily writer's posts and using them as a launchpad for counterpoints, expansion, or something more tangential. For that matter, I've written more than a few comments over the years that really could have been the launching point for a blog post (if not a post in and of themselves… I've gotten long-winded from time to time).

Same for the second commenter, I get what they mean.

Write better articles, not more articles. 😃

Quality usually does trump quantity, and we'd all love to see our favorite places filled with better articles, not more articles. I've left some of my favorite sites because they cranked up the quantity for one reason or another, and in the process the quality level plummeted.

The part that would be easy to miss though is that you can't get to better articles without going through more articles; or at least more articles with a particular mindset and approach.

I closed out the first post in this series with an analogy, and now might be a good time to put a little context into that analogy.

Quite frankly I feel like an athlete who's been on a long recovery finally getting back into training. Now that I think about it, that's probably a more apt analogy than I'm ready to admit to.

Part of what makes that analogy apt is I've gone through some fitness roller-coasters - periods of varying length where I worked out regularly and was in great physical shape, and periods where I was … well, not. I've also helped others through similar periods. In college, I worked in the Aquatics department at the local YMCA where (among other jobs) I taught swim lessons and was the assistant coach for some elementary, junior, and senior high school swim teams (I was licensed as an ASCA Level 2 coach for the curious).

In the athletic space we recognize a few things:

  • The old saw "practice makes perfect" is missing a few words - "practice makes permanent; perfect practice makes perfect".
  • You don't get to a better 5k without doing more 5k's. (Longest swim I ever did. There's a story there.)

We also recognize this in the programming space, where we understand that growth requires working on projects, exercises, and using various training programs.

Which brings us back to the writing - you don't get to better articles without writing more articles; or at least more articles with a particular mindset and approach. We can see this in some of the more helpful comments.

It's going to take deliberate, focused steps to get the quality where it needs to be. For me, the first few have been a matter of showing up. It's hard to improve if you're not showing up. This is something that others doing the "November Daily" thing have pointed to.

This post and the next few are going to be posts that I've spent a little more time setting up and figuring out what I want to articulate. I'm also going to keep an eye on the reading ease and other statistics Ghostwriter provides. For the moment I'm not going to do much with them, just look at what I'm actually doing, so I'll know where I need to go from there. My target will be a 10th grade reading level. It's a little higher than the usual recommendation, but is a step better than what I've managed with this post. (I'll put a screenshot at the end)

Having done Projects Projects Projects, I've got a good idea of what I really want to do something with (or at least what in the near future I want to focus on), and from there I can build a more structured schedule. Probably won't happen by the next post or two, but it should be in place before the end of the week. I've got to put the car in the shop which should leave me plenty of time to walk over to the coffee shop and think. 😃

Oh, and for those wondering, here's the statistics for this post.

Ghostwriter's Document Statistics
Ghostwriter's Document Statistics

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