Imperfect is What You Want

The Blog Herald has some advice for bloggers: How to Make Sure Your Blog Post is Ready for Publication.

Stuff like check for broken links and “have someone else review your draft” are certainly all good suggestions.

However, blogging really isn’t the same thing as “publication” and few of us have editors, much less time for rewrites.

So suggestion number 3 on their list for me encapsulates the concept of the read/write web.

Make sure the post is imperfect. This one may strike you as odd, but let me explain. There is always something you can improve about a blog post. Always. Add a paragraph, go with a different image, change a word choice, tweak the headline … the list goes on and on. But if you actually consciously take a moment to consider the fact that your about-to-be-broadcast post is not practically perfect in every way, and if you take an additional moment to choose to be okay with that fact, you’ll conquer that perennial stumbling block that so many bloggers trip over — the double-edged sword of perfectionism/procrastination.

This is a point I’ve been trying to get across to one of our principals here in the overly-large school district.

He started back in September and I had high hopes for his blog since he is a very smart guy who I thought had a good understanding of the fundamentals.

It turns out he’s also the type who needs to make sure everything is perfect before pushing the publish button. To him, every post must be a fully-formed essay, with themes of high importance.

But that’s not the point and it probably reflects, at least in part, his conception of publications that come from an age (quickly disappearing) of limited media.

When you assemble a newspaper or educational journal (or even a school newsletter) that is scheduled to be distributed on a regular schedule, the inclination is to make everything as close to perfect as possible before you commit it to paper.

When you control an instantaneous publishing system that is available 24/7, perfection is not only unnecessary, it’s also detrimental.

Please don’t assume I’m saying bloggers don’t need to think before they post. A good entry is far more than just a random collection of subconscious ramblings.

However, the power of these tools means that we have the freedom to toss out incomplete thoughts and less than perfect prose, since tomorrow (or even an hour from now) we have another chance to rethink an idea or even completely reverse ourselves, ideally based on feedback from the original post.

Creating content for a web audience is as much a process as it is a product, possibly even more so.

And that’s a lesson that teachers and their students need to be learning as much as my friend the principal.

Image: Hall of Imperfect Pixels by Juria Yoshikawa.

5 thoughts on “Imperfect is What You Want

  • July 14, 2009 at 5:12 pm
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    If I am not sure, I put it aside as a draft. No need to go all sloppy simply because you want the information out there.

    Very good post!

    Reply
  • July 14, 2009 at 5:56 pm
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    I’m teaching my kids to blog for the first time this upcoming year. I’ll keep that in mind.

    Reply
  • July 14, 2009 at 8:18 pm
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    Fits perfectly into this week of an online class on Web 2.0 tools and I will share this. It can be tough to lose the connotations that accompany that phrase “push the publish button.”

    Reply
  • September 10, 2009 at 7:18 pm
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    I am new to blogging. I am enrolled in a technology graduate level class. For an assignment this week I had to make my own blog. I have spent the past three full days changing my blog. I must have that perfectionist problem you are talking about. I wish I had an editor. Maybe getting graded for my work has forced me to be worried about every sentence. It is the feedback that makes us rethink our ideas that is the important part. I have been a teacher for 12 years. Thank you for bringing this important point to my attention. I enjoyed your post.

    Reply

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