Blogging Rule :: Don't Force A Post

by derek on August 24, 2007 · 22 comments

Many bloggers know that one rule to live by is that you should never try to force a post as the quality of your content will diminish and your readers will not receive the value that they have come to expect from you. You’ve probably read that on countless blogs and might have experienced it yourself.
The other day was the first time on this site where I felt like I was trying to force a post. Before I sat down to draft the post, I had a topic that I wanted to discuss and had quite a few thoughts bouncing around in my head. But when I sat down to put my thoughts on the screen, I just wasn’t feeling it.
Do you know what I mean?
I had that feeling that none of my thoughts on the topic were aligning into a cohesive group and I was trying to force myself to write the post. When I realized that the post was turning into a mish-mash of thoughts, I decided to just save the draft for a later day and move on to a different topic.
The problem was that the next topic I selected had the same result. As did the next.
With three failed attempts to let my words flow into a published post, I knew that I needed to step away from everything and not force a post just to have a post for that day. As many of you have probably experienced, once I spent some time away from the blog and the computer I had a new idea for a post and when I sat down later that night everything flowed quite well.
Tonight I had another experience with trying to force a post.
Earlier in the week I had an idea for a post that I thought would make a good post for a Friday. Being the procrastinator that I am, I didn’t do any of the initial work to prepare for the post and find myself sitting here right now with Saturday quickly approaching.
Rather than try to rush through the post, I’ve decided to hold onto the idea for another day. This will allow me to do the proper amount of research and preparation in order to write a quality post.
As much as we all know the importance of sticking to a posting schedule, I think the readers appreciate it when you don’t force a post just to make a post for the day. Missing one day here and there will not hurt you as much as posting low quality content, which is usually what happens when you try to force a post.
What do you think about trying to force a post? Have you done it before?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

????? (Jason) August 25, 2007 at 3:03 am

Forcing a post is kind of like trying to work while your boss is standing behind you. Sure, you’ll finish. But the quality will be quite a bit less than what you’d prefer.
Many of the great bloggers out there believe that quality is definately worth more than quantity. If they can’t write something worth sharing with the world, then they won’t. Most of us have learned to accept the occasional day or two of silence, as it means the new content will often be refreshing and worth the wait 🙂

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derek August 25, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Jason, working with your boss behind you is a great example and one I can appreciate as I have worked for people that would do things like that.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Damien Riley August 25, 2007 at 5:53 pm

I had to do a double take when I read this one D:
“The other day was the first time on this site where I felt like I was trying to force a post.”
Plainly . . . all bloggers have forced posts. Either that or I live on a desert island. Well, maybe you just meant COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING that was the first time. Or maybe I am just out of line.
However you look at it, this is an excellent idea for a discussion starter. I think you have to find a medium between “forced” and “inpsired.” It’s rare I have one without any need for force. It’s kind of like childbirth you know?
REM’s Michael Stipe has long been a creative hero in my psychology. He once said that while in the studio if they have to do a fourth take on a recording, they scrap the song. Maybe that’s what I am trying to say. It’s rare we get a good post on the first take, but we need to be real about going beyond the third. Great post by the way.

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derek August 25, 2007 at 6:05 pm

On this site, I usually can sit down and write up a post without too much trouble. The other day I found myself writing, re-writing and re-re-writing so many times that I knew I was forcing it – I couldn’t even get a first draft completed. That was the first time that has happened to me on this blog.
There are other times where I have probably forced a post in the sense that it wasn’t the most interesting topic or something along those lines. But I can usually crank out the first draft of something and then edit that once or twice for a published post.

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Damien Riley August 25, 2007 at 5:55 pm

oops, I mean to put an end after the word first. Sorries.

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derek August 25, 2007 at 5:59 pm

Fixed it up for ya! 🙂

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Damien Riley August 25, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Thanks brother! Did you catch this post and comment thread? You might be interested:
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/22/how-grey-is-your-valley-making-money-from-open-source/
Curious on your thoughts. I think Matt is great.

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derek August 25, 2007 at 10:45 pm

Yeah, that is a very interesting discussion. My thoughts on the whole thing are basically that I do not fault anyone for making the decisions that they make, on either side.
In my opinion, the community as a whole really dictates what will be or not be acceptable. If Vanilla embeds paid links in their code, people can choose not to use their code and if enough people do that then Vanilla will have a choice to make.
If Matt doesn’t want to promote themes with sponsored links, people will search those out via other sources if they want to use them.
I don’t believe it is right for me to criticize others for making money on open source software or how they do it. If I don’t agree with their methods, I’ll voice my disagreement by not supporting that person/code/product.

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Damien Riley August 25, 2007 at 11:01 pm

Yeah I know what you are saying. I think Wordpress decided to drop the sponsored themes to gain more of a “cult” following with folks like me who run without ads. BUT, like you said wisely I can’t judge their motives.
Whenever you start to do something substantial seems like people go after you whatever it is. I thought that was funny how the very blog that was criticizing Wordpress was powered by it. Anyway, thanks for the aside from your discussion.

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derek August 26, 2007 at 12:20 am

No problem, maybe we can continue the discussion over at your post about making money from open source.

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Rose August 25, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Funny that you wrote about this. Great minds think alike. I try not to force a post. My problem is with wanting to post too much.

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derek August 26, 2007 at 12:22 am

The desire to post too much can actually help with the forced posting. If you build up a nice list of saved drafts when you are in the writing groove, you should have a selection of publishable posts for the days when you just don’t have it.

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Stephen August 26, 2007 at 2:39 am

I’ve discovered that forcing a post is like, well, forcing it when you’re at the can. No matter how hard you grunt, it ain’t gonna come out, and you’ll probably end up hurting something. I’ve resigned myself to posting when I have something to say or want to share something, but I do try to stick to one or two posts a week now to keep it regular.

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Nick August 26, 2007 at 6:17 pm

I have found myself trying to force posts in the past and end up just getting frustrated and walking away from the computer. Usually, if I come back to it later it works out though.

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derek August 26, 2007 at 8:55 pm

@Stephen :: Great analogy to being on the can. And just like when on the can, it is best to stay as regular as possible.
@Nick :: Often times it is enough to get away for a little while and clear your thoughts. It is funny how sometimes a little break is enough to kick things into gear.

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jew August 28, 2007 at 9:15 am

Forcing posts make bad posts… You should write only when you really want to.

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Matt Arnold September 3, 2007 at 8:04 am

This is a great blog post.
At the moment I am trying to restrict myself from writing too much. I have only just really started my blog and I have so much I want to say. I really must limit myself so that the content is spread evenly over a shedule.
However, I sometimes suffer from a sort of “writers block”, and I can definately see it coming in the future. It’s a great idea to save some content as drafts when your on a roll. Sort of like a safety net. I’ll definately take note of that 🙂

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derek September 4, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Matt, thanks for the comment!
Getting in the habit of saving posts for future release will make things much easier. I’m still not doing that as often myself but this coming month I plan to try and formalize a writing schedule during the week.

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Hendrik October 19, 2008 at 6:48 am

I’ve discovered that forcing a post is like,I sometimes suffer from a sort of “writers block”, and I can definately see it coming in the future. It’s a great idea to save some content as drafts when your on a roll. Sort of like a safety net. I’ll definately take note of that… !!!!
Hendriks last blog post..multiple probleme

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