shipping things can be done in a way that isn’t tasteless, where you won’t have to go scrambling back to fix things. shipping work can be done in an incremental way, forming progress towards the things you want to achieve.
how do you publish articles rapidly? where is the threshold for “this is done?”. is there even a threshold that must be upheld?
a thought experiment. what is the smallest article we can possibly produce? a sentence? a paragraph? possibly a paragraph. ok.
what is the most unrefined piece we can publish? could we publish it with grammatical errors and typos? perhaps there is a threshold of how much is acceptable. since we have established a basis for a paragraph being suitable for the smallest article, could we get away with a typo in every sentence? in the whole block? a grammatical error every sentence? in the whole block? likely one typo and one grammatical mistake in the whole block is fine.
writing a single paragraph with enough revisions to narrow down to a single typo or grammatical mistake is often one revision.
onto content: what kind of content should be present in our theoretical paragraph? often the content could be something that rings true for us. or is a record of something we’ve done. but more generally an article that is useful for someone else is far more enticing. here is an idea: removing friction is useful, but removing friction alone won’t increase the desire of performing the action. often we can be present to people’s pains and address those. it can also be our own pains, but those may not be shared.
what is the achievement when it comes to content? is it going to be interesting enough for someone to read the article. is it going to be short (or long) enough to engage them that they can leave feeling intrigued, inspired, or improved by the content.
a good lead makes the difference. some say every sentence should be a lead, but let’s say, again, that a single lead in every block, preferably (definitively?) the first sentence.
what does the threshold look like so far?
- some kind of content, it’s preferably addressing a pain, but maybe it is just us musing
- there’s a paragraph, with at most one typo, one grammatical mistake, and exactly one lead smack dab at the start of the sentence
another thought experiment: what if we want to extend this minimum viable article? we could extend this one paragraph at a time. each with the same qualities. how many minimum viable paragraphs will we call it quits? here’s where divergent and convergent thinking can come to our rescue. first we barf out everything we need in the article. this can be as many paragraphs as we want. then we can refine each paragraph per the above requirements. we could likewise build one paragraph at a time, and then refine it, and continue. there ought to be one final revision that is exclusively focused on pruning deadweight and improving the ordering of points made. any paragraph that doesn’t contribute to the main theme or should be shifted earlier to explain should be cut and reordered ruthlessly.
here’s an exercise: can you reduce every paragraph down to it’s lead or summarising sentence and the article still hold together? the grouping of this should make up a list. how each point or set of points can be grouped forms the structure. that structure forms the table of contents.
and now we have an article, or a book, or a thread and so on. the medium doesn’t matter. there may be some quirks to each medium. but the aim is that the threshold for deployment should be sufficient quality that allows you to produce a daily cadence, while still allowing you to accept a sufficient amount of mess that you can come back to revise articles with sufficient feedback without making that process too internal.
while shipping all of this work is great, what about the people who are tremendously, even dangerously, wrong about a subject? cooling one’s jets on a subject for a day, a week, and so on, can avoid that issue, largely with the aid of a bit of research. but there is another escape hatch: honesty about what you don’t know or where you are uncertain. swyx call this “irresponsible learning” and i think that perfectly describes the careless activity of writing content and thrusting it out in to the public forum to expressly drive learnings from others, rather than merely being corrected or guided by input from the larger community.
getting over the threshold of shipping is hard, but establishing clear criterion for acceptance that improves the temp for discovery paired with the willingness to be honest about where you are on unsteady footing with your thoughts reduces the same type of paralysis that people suffer from as they keep expecting more information to form a decision. forming these criteria is a deeply personal thing, depending on where you are at now in your journey and the context of each situation, and not something you can base on others’ opinions, for example the idea that you should make a decision after you have 70% of the information. doing this will help build your skill to thrive in chaos, thriving in chaotic situations will help you practice more of a skill you want to get better at, and hooking up your practice with clear feedback mechanisms means you can rapidly learn, and the more you learn the more you grow.