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Losing Long Form Writing

Byword my current writing tool of choice

I talked a bit more yesterday about tech journalism being broken mainly (at least in my opinion) because of the quest for the almighty pageview for advertising dollars. Well PandoDaily takes my thoughts further.

Not only is current journalism broken, we’re going to lose all the writers that can truly produce long form writing since they’re getting old, and no one is mentoring the younger generation. I know that I often rush through writing, I’m not great at editing my work and I should be working harder to do that. Despite working hard to try and not get caught in the quest for content creation simply for creation sake, I’m running the race.

So let me step back and think about what I really enjoy reading.

  • Articles in ‘The Feature’ from Instapaper
  • Long form opinion pieces like I’m citing in PandoDaily
  • New entrant, ‘The Magazine’ (and I hope it does succeed)
  • The New Yorker
  • The Atlantic

What don’t I like?

  • most traditional magazines loaded down with images and small text
  • poorly written non-meaningful posts with sensational headlines
  • short posts that say nothing new in a conversation

What Am I writing then?

I have a feeling that I’m writing more content of the type I don’t bother to read myself, at the very least I’m not writing enough of the content I want to read. I’ve got a bunch of longer form articles I’m working on, but few that are ready regularly.

So why am I writing the shorter ‘link’ posts? Mostly I write them because I want to point the content out to my readers. I think that the article I’m linking to has some value for you. I try to skip articles where I have nothing to add in the conversation, but sometimes I’m looking for that last article of the week and let some garbage slip through.

Is There a Fix?

The first step in fixing a problem is admitting it. So I admit that I write some garbage and I need to edit more. Now I’ll try to do some more editing. It’s probably better overall if I miss a day, then if I add a crappy post.

Second, I need to get stricter on myself with editing. No more writing and publishing immediately. I need to let an article sit for an hour, then do a proper edit.

That still leaves me without a mentor though. I don’t have anyone around that can be a filter for good content, someone that can challenge me to dig a bit deeper. Someone that can tell me the content has no thread and is a waste of the reader’s time. So I need to be on the lookout for that.

I suppose I could whine about the lack of time I have to produce long form content. I work full time as a programmer, writing is not my job and pays almost nothing. The simple fact is, that isn’t going to change really quickly so I have to suck it up and choose not to watch TV and write well instead.

Here’s to better content.

3 thoughts on “Losing Long Form Writing

  1. This is precisely why I have a blog and tumblelog. I then don’t feel guilty about posting links, quotes and random media from the internet on my tumblelog.

    I keep my blog for longer articles. Opinion posts if you like.

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