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Writing without Publishing

jbranchaud profile image Josh Branchaud ・2 min read

As I've started writing daily blog posts (just for 30 days), I've come to realize what Tom Critchlow was talking about when he described a digital garden as being a blog without a publish button. It's the difference between a living document and a publication.

A blog post that has been published feels like a thing that is or should be finished, cemented in time. Writing the post was an act of the past and now it is a read-only document just for my audience. However, inevitably after each post I publish, I think of something else, an addendum or a clarification, or I read something that feels related, that I want to integrate and expand on.

When some written piece is unpublished, the kinds of actions that I tend to allow myself are write, edit, expand on, restructure, proofread, get feedback, etc. An action I don't really think of is share publicly.

On the other hand, once something is published, I tend to narrow the set of available actions to share publicly and fix typos. The pre-published actions like expand on, get feedback, and continue writing take a back seat or stop altogether.

Why shouldn't I publicly share some writing that is still incomplete?

Why should I aim my writing toward publish-and-forget instead of write-to-expand?

What if my writing could evolve as I learn and discover new things?

The publish button, the idea of freezing my writing in time, is preventing me from expanding my knowledge and growing my writing. As a result I miss out on insights and connections that are right there just at the edge of what I've written, and just at the edge of my thinking. There is only a little bit further to go. If I forget about the publish button, I can get there. If I forget about the publish button, I can start writing for myself again.


Notes:

Maintaining a digital garden, mind-mapping, or using a tool like Roam seem like some of the best approaches to get at this kind of writing.

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Josh Branchaud

@jbranchaud

I'm a developer and consultant focused primarily on the web, specializing in React, Ruby on Rails, and PostgreSQL. Newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/jbranchaud

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