If you’ve ever blogged or read about blogging (how meta), you’ve probably gotten this advice:
Just publish – you’ll get better as you go! Just hit publish – you can revise your work later, or use it to document your growth! JFDI!
Hold the phone for a sec.
Do we ever consider whether or not this is actually a good idea, or if the benefits to publishing a post outweigh the negatives?
Why I try NOT to Just Hit Publish
I think more people writing is an awesome thing. I love reading posts by my friends or people I look up to and respect. I don’t want to discourage people from writing more. What I do want to encourage is intent in your actions and careful consideration before publishing.
Yes, writing more usually improves your writing, and practice is super valuable and one of the few ways to get better.
I’m not advocating that you stop practicing. Writing is one of the most valuable skills you have. I’m saying that you should practice better.
I think you have to keep in mind that a blog post, like a photograph, is a snapshot into someone’s mind. I’m sure that in a year or two I may not agree with everything I’ve written on this blog (I might not even agree with this post in the future!). While you and I may realize that judging someone on a snapshot of their thoughts, especially one that may be outdated, probably isn’t fair, I have a newsflash for you: Most people are not that rational.
I hope that, in time, people learn not to judge others on a snapshot from their blog or a tweet taken out of context (or just something dumb you said *). But the reality is that when you hit that publish button, you’ve just created something permanent, and you can never take it back. It’s out there, cached forever. It’s not like saying something stupid, as the effect on people’s memories tends to fade with time. Instead, this post is there in all it’s naked glory until the end of the internets (or just the beginning of The Walking Dead).
Yes, you can update your blog posts. You can delete them. You cannot scrub them from the face of the interwebs. Ever. Be mindful of this when you write, tweet, pin, or whatever you kids are doing these days.
Sometimes I’m embarrassed by what I’ve written or wish I’d done it better, but each time I publish it, it serves a purpose. I’m using this blog as a public journal to grow as a person and to become a better writer myself. I’m extremely private and have trouble sharing thoughts, so publishing them is an exercise in discomfort and in getting better. I’ve done my best to ensure that, even if my thoughts change, I’m not going to regret having published something on this blog, nor will I feel like something was unfinished when published. While nothing is ever perfect and can be better, this is a very different matter than work that’s incomplete or raw.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m not saying to stop blogging. I’m not saying to be afraid of hitting the “Publish” button. I’m saying that some thought should go into the process before you start pressing stuff that makes permanent changes; that I think you can be better due to the kind of consideration and intention that then becomes tied to the process of evaluating your writing and being self-reflective.
Press Publish. Publish regularly if you can. Practice writing and take risks. But please remember that you can’t truly un-publish, and that you shouldn’t stop living intentionally just because a publish button is in the picture. So, to be more accurate:
Reflect. Consider. Evaluate. Improve. Then press “Publish”. Repeat as often as possible.
Like this post? You may want to read Fear the Publish Button by Tom McFarlin as well.
* Before you blow up on me for seemingly excusing this behavior, I’m not supporting or excusing it. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t go judging people on little bits and pieces of their lives. Would you want to be judged on your worst decisions? Yeah. Think about that.