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So long, and thanks for all the unwriting

This unwriting thing has been an interesting little experiment. It started with a backlog of iffy ideas that I wasn’t sure about, but also couldn’t bring myself to toss, so I decided to throw them up here as quick-and-dirty as possible. I didn’t have grand intentions, nor did I expect much from the results. If I got them out of my head, that would be enough.

That’s how it started, at least. If you’re reading this, you know they ended up a bit more than quick-and-dirty. I didn’t put quite as much effort into them as usual, but I came close. They’re a good impression of my normal posts. The main difference was that I wrote them a lot faster.

Looking back on it, I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I’m happy with some of them, not so happy with others, and at least one probably doesn’t deserve to be here at all. Measured against similar posts from before, I’m pretty sure the unwriting posts came in below average. Not unacceptably so – I really am happy with some of them – but overall, meh.

Still, I’m glad I wrote them. I write mostly for myself, using this site like an overblown diary. I post in public more for the discipline it forces on me, and as an obligatory nod to public discourse and sharing information, than for readership or acknowledgment. Sure, I get that endorphin boost from comments and likes, just like everyone, but it’s secondary at best. Otherwise, I’d spend a lot less time waxing philosophical and a lot more time posting crazy pictures of myself.

Did I learn any valuable lessons from unwriting? I’m not sure. I could claim that it reinforced the value of practice, a la Malcolm Gladwell, but practice only helps when it’s paired with evaluation, feedback, and adjustment. I didn’t do much of that while I was unwriting.

Maybe the only benefit is that I enjoyed the process, and I’m happy with the results, if not as writing I’m proud of then as a personal account of things I’m currently thinking about. Measured against that yardstick, the unwriting posts definitely make this a better, more complete diary. Maybe that’s enough.

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One thought on “So long, and thanks for all the unwriting

  1. I think it was a worthwhile effort. It’s always good to see whether you’re good enough at something to do it faster (writing, running, solving crossword puzzles, choosing a restaurant, playing scales), and it ties in nicely with the theme of prioritization: if you have only 20 minutes, and a carefully written piece takes an hour but an unwriting exercise takes 15 minutes, then it might bubble up in the priority list and serve many of the same goals: a record of what you did/thought (which may be interesting to your friends now, or to you a year from now), and a device for thinking through some issue. Most blogs serve far lesser goals, to put it mildly.

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