Saturday, February 17, 2007



Anyone who closely monitors my blog (and I'm sure there are many who do) will notice that I revise entries many, many times in the hours after they are first posted. I don't spend much time revising my initial drafts before posting to the web, so I do a lot of polishing after posting.

There are a set of quirks to my writing style that I know I need to watch closely. I like to start sentences with and and but, which grammarians find objectionable but which is, I think, acceptable if not overused. After a few re-readings, I am usually comfortable with deleting most of those initial ands and buts.

I like semicolons and dashes, but I overuse them. I've had to adopt a rule limiting myself to no more than one usage of each of these punctuation symbols per entry. I also overuse parentheses. I use a lot of bullet lists; I don't know whether I overuse them.

I write "I think" or "in my opinion" a lot. I usually delete these, because they are wishy-washy and everything in my blog is obviously what I think.

I write a lot of stuff in the form of "on the one hand . . ., but on the other hand . . . ." I tend to accept both sides of any non-trivial argument as being valid, and I try to understand each side well enough to make the case. However, after re-reading I sometimes decide that I need to adopt one side as my own. Choosing a side has never been my strength—I am a compromiser by nature—so I like to force myself to do it once in a while.

There are a few entries that I have deleted entirely. Most of these were written after having a glass or two of bourbon.

If there is anything about my writing style that drives you nuts, let me know and I'll add them to my list of bad habits.

(And to anyone who wants to point out that I broke my own rules in this entry: I know.)

_I_ think it comes from your stint as a wiki author (and to a lesser extent your mindset as a coder). If text on a computer is fluid, then why shouldn't we change it as time goes by.

Many authors claim that writing a book is easy, it's rewriting that's hard. My favorite story is of an author (I can't remember who he is now) that taped up his pages around his room. When he was happy with a page, he taped it higher to the wall, when he was unhappy, he taped it lower to the wall. He didn't think a story was 'done' until all the pages were at least midway up the wall.

Now, if only we could revise/delete embarassing entries on Usenet that Google Groups have kept for posterity.
Hell, I do the same thing - every now and then I'll go back and read an old blog entry of my own and think to myself how poorly worded or terribly written something is.

....and I'll frequently edit it, even if said post is a year or two old and there's little to no chance anyone will ever read it again.

A few months back, having realized I was doing that quite often I decided to let posts languish in my drafts folder for a few days before publishing them now. Usually by the time I publish now the result is something I'm happy with.
I tried letting drafts linger, but I couldn't stand it. The programmer in me just screams "Ship it!"
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