Getting the blogging balance right

2023-10-19 14:19:00 +0700 by Mark Smith

I introduced a notes feature to the website several weeks ago. The big success has been that it has definitely made it easier to post, and I have been posting much more often than previously. The shorter and less formal structure of notes means that I don't agonize about getting everything perfect. I have a thought and if I deem it relevant, I can have it in a note pretty quickly. That's a big win, and worth remembering.

Having said that though it's becoming clear to me that I don't have the balance right. My links are too long, or to be precise, the text accompanying the links is often too long. I'm constantly thinking that the link I've created really should have been a note. Ironically notes are also often also too long. It happens so often after writing a note, that I realise it should really have been a blog post. I don’t write enough blog posts. The way I have things setup just isn't working.

There are several post types:

It's made somewhat more complicated by the fact that links can take different forms:

At the minute I seem to be favoring the title with comment form for links. For example here are today's links. That form is popular in various programming newsletters. As a reader, I like being able to see the original full title, but with a comment from the currator. That way you get a good sense for what's at the other end of the hyperlink before you click.

The downside is that I'm not convinced it's so well suited for my needs, because very often I find that the comment contains a fair bit of analysis, and could have probably been a note.

The other side of it is more practical. I like to have each post in it's own seperate markdown file. The problem with that is there is quite a lot of overhead. The time when ideas that form notes occurs at the beginning of the day, often as I'm gathering links, or listening to podcasts. They don't occur in order, fully formed. They tend to occur all at once, then they get fleshed out as the day progresses. The fact that I need to create a seperate file each time really gets in the way.

I'm finding that I've started keeping a daily scratchpad list, that I then later turn into notes and links. The scratchpad file then gets thrown away. It's kind of a waste. I want the scratchpad list to be the notes right from the outset. But like I said, I like them all to be in seperate files. Quite the cunundurum.

I'm starting to think that I should create a specialised markdown file format for daily notes. It would be some sort of list. Each item in the list would be a note, but would also include a timestamp. That way each day I would only create 1 file, and all notes would be written to that file. I would then have a custom renderer that would split the notes out into seperate files when the SSG builds the site.

I would also be able to easily include, links and blog posts into the daily notes file. I think such a setup might make it much easier to write unincumbered. It feels like I'm quite close, most of the pieces are there, they just aren't organised in a way that's very productive. I'm constantly triping over myself, and so I end up just not posting.

Having a good writting setup is incredibly nuanced and difficult to get right.

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