Quitting Project 52

31 January 2010, in Project 52 | 9 comments »

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had signed up for Project 52 — an effort to produce one article per week. I’ve found that it’s not going as I expected; it’s not that I don’t want to write the content, but the schedule of one post per week is just not working for me.

Writing when you feel like it

This may come as surprise, since I’ve been dutifully posting one post per week, haven’t failed a single week and have 3 other posts for the upcoming weeks already finished. But I feel the writing process shouldn’t be forced or constrained. I want to write when I’m in the mood for it, and I want to make the posts live immediately, before I regret anything I’ve written (which sometimes happens and posts are thrown in the trash).

Yesterday I stumbled across a post by Jeffrey Zeldman, “Write when inspired”, where he expresses the exact same feelings I have with regards to writing:

You are writing for readers, a duty as sacred, in its way, as parenting. (…) The world is already choking on half-considered, squeezed-out shit. There’s no need to add to the pile.

If you want to be great, or at least to be better, start by breathing, taking breaks, and working intensely when the mood is on.

I agree. I don’t want to write something because I have to, I want to write because I want to write. And I’m concerned that lots of “half-considered, squeezed-out shit” is going to be published because people feel they absolutely “have to”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people practicing the art of writing; it forces you to organise your thoughts, to make sense of what’s going on in your head. But not when you are not in the mood.

Too many ideas

My biggest problem with writing is that I have too many ideas in the pipeline — I feel I should be writing at all times.

By observing what goes on around me in a sort of analytical (some would probably say cold and indifferent…) way, it’s very easy for ideas to keep popping into my head. Sometimes I’ll leave those ideas for a while, until when I feel more comfortable or have the time to make them into a post; but other times I need to write them down right there and then.

That’s been happening quite frequently lately, and it happens more often with non-technical posts, with posts that may incite more discussion than actually provide an answer to a question. These types of posts are usually written in one go; there is no need for technical revisions — ideas are much more subjective, I can say whatever I want (sort of).

Not really quitting…

So I won’t actually “quit” Project 52, but I’ll do it on my own terms. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I’ll have around 52 posts published during 2010, but I may have published 3 articles in a week and then nothing for 2 months, if I didn’t feel like it.

I didn’t forget your suggestions for future posts, and I’ll make my best to make those posts happen, so thank you for sending those in.

Thank you for reading.

  • I’m right there with you. Having struggled for two weeks now to write a roundup of recent web typography developments for the ISTD journal Condensed, I know exactly how you feel.

    (I’m struggling to meet the deadline, indeed, I’ve now completely missed it. Why? The words just aren’t there; and there is no magical tap to turn to open the floodgates.)

    Often the best writing comes off-deadline. For me it’s the kind of writing I’m doing ‘when I really should be doing something else’, a kind of guilty pleasure.

    I’ve no doubt you’ll hit the magic 52, who knows, even exceed it, but being released from the shackles of an artificially imposed schedule, I’ve no doubt the writing will be better, from the heart.

    Good luck as you go off-piste; we’re all looking forward to reading, as you know.

  • I totally agree.

    I’ve only just started with my new site and missed the boat on Project52 which will most likely end up being a good thing.

    I’m still committed to writing quality content whenever I get the chance. Time will tell I guess…

  • I’m inclined to start feeling the same. There is definitely a benefit in deadlines driving forward writing and acting as a stick beating procrastination out of me. However I think that is the main problem. It is a stick rather than a carrot (even if without it the carrot is just pride in a good article).

  • Good call with deciding to write on your own terms.

    I was starting to think the same thing.

    Regardless I still think Project52 is a great thing and I hope everyone sticks with the principal of writing consistently throughout the year – which is something I’m still going to try and do.

  • Shame on you! ;-)

    I know what you mean though, it can feel like forced writing. Although lately I find myself not having as much time as I would like for blogging and the #p52 at least forces me to get the finger out.

    • Hey! 3 posts this week already! I’d say I’m doing better since I’ve quit ;)

  • I disagree, but it’s a matter of semantics.

    Of course you should write when you’re impassioned, but if you save all of your writing for those moments, then all of your writing will be emotional. And that’s not always a good thing.

    A writer should write constantly. Every word is an improvement.

    A great writer, however, is one who knows how (and has the courage) to edit. That is where you learn concision.

    So, in the blogosphere: yes, constantly write. But learn to edit, and only post the good stuff.

  • I thought you might be interested in the fact that I’ve rebooted Project 52 to start on March 17th. It’s not only a second chance to get people back on board (who might have felt like they were failing it), but it also helps us get a new system in place that will manage the data a little more accurately. There will also be a podcast coming. So hopefully we’ll be able to provide the resources and inspiration to keep people moving.

    But you should know, I’m not worried about people missing weeks. The 1 post a week is just a guideline to getting people to end up at 52 posts for a year. However you want to break that up is entirely up to you. You make your own schedule.


  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Project 52 which sounds like a good idea.

    I also share with you that too many ideas pop into my head but sometimes, it just doesn’t deem post-worthy. Or at times, I just do not elaborate more on the idea.

    Our blogs are meant to be an outlet for ourselves as well as being able to share with others who may feel how we do.

    I’m glad your honest with moving forward with the project and look forward to reading more of your writing.