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A kind of modern desperation

When I started writing personal weeknotes (or sometimes fortnightnotes) it was a nice way to group lots of small things together that I wouldn’t bother writing individual posts about.

Originally “weeknotes” were a thing one wrote about work, which I did for a while, ages ago. But I realised that even when I had client work on I didn’t want to say anything about it; I always err on the side of caution with clients’ privacy.

But last year I realised weeknotes didn’t have to be about work and they might be a nice way to get back into writing briefly about what I’d been up to more generally. They felt a bit like the weekly email newsletters that I enjoyed receiving, like Warren Ellis’s and Adam Greenfield’s; I liked their weekly rhythm.

I also thought weeknotes might help wean me off using Twitter quite so much — all the stuff I’d probably chat to work colleagues about (if I left the flat) could be saved for a weekly post rather than spat into Twitter.

I also thought weeknotes might be a good intermediate stage towards a return to more frequent blogging. Once I’d got into the habit of writing inconsequential paragraphs for a weekly post, maybe it’d start feeling more natural to write inconsequential paragraphs during the week, in separate posts, instead. That’s what a lot of blogging used to be, before social media, so why not aim for that again? When you post rarely it’s difficult to do that because you feel you can’t start again with some brief, trivial thing… and so you never get back to that frequent(ish) pace again. Maybe weeknotes would help get me back into it.

I enjoyed writing weeknotes. Friends said they liked reading them. There was no pressure to actually write them. They could be any length. They could be about anything. I occasionally had a bit of a Sunday night “shit, I forgot to write weeknotes” feeling but it wasn’t a big deal.

And after a while I felt like I was at the point where they had the intended effect. The idea of writing individual brief posts any time, about things that would usually go in weeknotes, seemed fine. So I stopped weeknotes and… it was still a struggle to write individual posts.

It’s odd. It’s my personal site. It’s just a blog. Why should writing a post that’s only a single paragraph about having enjoyed the second season of This Country feel awkward? As if it should be more substantial and thoughtful?

One issue, I think, is that having to create a title for a blog post makes the task feel more onerous. While a brief thought on Twitter is like a moment of chat, a blog post with a title feels more like “publishing an article”. And a titled post feels a bit formal and weighty when I only want to say, “This album’s great!”.

For a lot of my non-weeknote blog posts I get around this by using the London Review of Books‘ tactic of using a nice phrase from within the post (or article, in their case). This must be terrible for SEO but I only care about that kind of modern desperation (there it is) for posts that might be of some practical use to googlers.

One benefit of having written my own weblog software (like a man from the past) should be that I could do away with post titles. But you still need something to be title-like… for lists, links, search results, meta tags, RSS feeds, etc. It would probably be more hassle than it’s worth.

I could, though, help myself by making a simpler interface for writing a blog post. At the moment I write them in a text editor, and paste them into a page in Django’s Admin site. Which is a useful thing, but laboriously functional. A form that makes writing a blog post more Tumblr-like, not much harder than writing a tweet, would help a lot. One day.

Until then, here we are. I’ve given myself a couple of months of no weeknotes to see if I can get into writing those brief posts instead, but no. It was worth a try. Normal weeknotes service will, probably, resume shortly.