Long Live The #Shortread
Among its other accomplishments in 2013, Twitter ate this site. But now I’m taking it back.
What I mean by that: Last year, when I had a fun or interesting thought, I almost always just tweeted about it and moved on. Who could blame me? Twitter is unbelievably fast, the feedback is seamless, and with a more pressing job on my mind, why bother sitting at a computer and writing it out? (We’ll discuss WordPress’s better-but-still-not-good-enough mobile tools another time.)
But while some parts of Twitter are satisfying — getting retweets, faves, and especially, interesting new followers — others aren’t. It’s difficult to elaborate on ideas there. It’s hard to point to a permanent record of your thoughts, if you can even find them. And the character limit, while amazing for one-liners and solid for simple ideas, doesn’t leave much room for nuance. I probably wasted as many good ideas on Twitter than I got across well.
(Twitter is also amazingly distracting. So distracting that I’m going to force myself to have it open less this year. Which makes publishing there even trickier.)
Another problem I had with SplatF last year was the feeling that a good post needed to be a longish post. My current layout inadvertently champions the “longread” — big-ass headlines, a subhead, wide paragraphs, large photos, and lots of text. This creates even more pressure: If I can’t afford to put a couple hours into a post, I’ll end up putting it off until it’s no longer interesting.
But I’ve actually never really enjoyed reading or writing long posts. It’s ok if you do, but I just don’t. I’m at a point in my life where I’d rather spend an hour exploring ten new ideas, even if superficially, than one in great detail. So that’s how I’m going to write. (I don’t have time to tweak the layout now, but that’s up for consideration, too.)
My goal for 2014, which I’ve already wasted on Twitter, is to write 200 new posts. In theory, they will be published here. (I’ll reserve the right to write on a different site if things get too off-topic. Also, I’m not including the “quote” posts in the 200. Those are bonuses.) I will hold myself to a limit of 500 words. Unless something radical happens, that’s more than enough from me on a topic right now. Let’s move on with it. Thanks for sticking around.
Update: Looks like my pal and former news-chasing rival MG Siegler has already scooped me with a similar effort. Thanks to Jay Yarow for bringing his post to my attention. Great minds? One more before this becomes a NYT Sunday Styles-worthy trend? I guess we’ll have to keep each other in line now.
Check out my new site: The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.