Speed Matters

When I first started War on Pants, I was hoping to have more writers than just myself. In the five and a half years of this site's existence, everyone I know has started their own blog, wrote a few posts, and let the site die away in the ether.

In the beginning, I wrote more for the site than I expected I would, but I wouldn't call those works "quality." In an attempt to add more quality, I started writing longer, more in-depth articles. Unfortunately, a term paper hobby doesn't create a lot of content when I'm the only one writing.

I have a lot of drafts. Some are a few paragraphs. Most are multiple pages. Writing drafts that never get published in any way is becoming counter productive. War on Pants began to feel too much like work. My workday is eleven hours long and involves staring at a monitor non-stop save my commute. I don't want to look at a screen when I get home.

This caused me to put off things I've been wanting to write about. I've been bookmarking links I want to mention in my articles. It's gotten to the point where many of them are either outdated or I forgot how they connected in my head to other the other links I bookmarked.

I keep all these links in a folder in Firefox called "to-write." When I finally saw how many seconds it takes to scroll through the whole list, I loaded up SQLite to count them using the schema information I got from here.

$ sqlite3 places.sqlite "select count(*) from moz_bookmarks where parent = (select id from moz_bookmarks where title = 'to-write');"


Three hundred twenty-six bookmarks. I have bookmarked the Internet.

My Attempt to Create Faster

James Somers gave me the reminder I needed in Speed Matters:

The obvious benefit to working quickly is that you'll finish more stuff per unit time. But there's more to it than that. If you work quickly, the cost of doing something new will seem lower in your mind. So you'll be inclined to do more.

The converse is true, too. If every time you write a blog post it takes you six months, and you're sitting around your apartment on a Sunday afternoon thinking of stuff to do, you're probably not going to think of starting a blog post, because it'll feel too expensive.

What's worse, because you blog slowly, you're liable to continue blogging slowly — simply because the only way to learn to do something fast is by doing it lots of times.

I wrote a lot in the beginning because I got quick results. It's like building something. When I start to see my creation come together, it motivates me to keep plugging at it because I feel that much closer to my end goal. It's the long-term "just five more minutes" of a project/book/game that before you know it, it's the next morning, and you've forgotten to go to bed again.

I've Done This Before

I used to draw a web comic. It wasn't good, but it was fun. By knowing that, I was able to keep drawing quickly to try to keep to a schedule, and as a result of all that drawing, my artwork improved. I like to think that writing often similarly improved my writing.

When I tried too hard and took too long drawing, the comic stagnated and became tedious to create. I'm afraid that, rather than wanting to write, I now want to want to write. This needs to change.

Recently, I think I've found a compromise. Stay tuned...