Permission to Fail

I have a problem.
When writing I over edit and I am often self-critical to the point of paralysis. This leads to spending too much time on short things, putting things off, and stressing about the quality being insufficient at the first attempt.1

At school I never enjoyed long form writing unless it was something I cared deeply about and often only on my terms. Yet I have chosen to do a PhD2 and I must do an awful lot more writing to finish it. In all probability this writing will not be great on first attempt. I need to break tradition and give myself permission to initially do badly. To draft content and be told that a large portion of it is crap and must be improved. Permission to sometimes fail at the first attempt and learn from it.

Now Dr. friends and many related books and websites advise similar to get into the habit of producing at volume. Just write something, anything, it does not matter the quality that can be improved later if necessary. What's important initially is getting into the habit and letting it flow.

The same applies to my blog. From a mixture of the above problem and often cited ‘time constraints’ I have published hardly anything while experimenting with various platforms3. I have ocassionaly started notes on things I would like to write about, usually technology related but not always. If I can apply the same writing freedom here, regardless of any readership, I expect both will benefit. I am not going to promise some new frequency, only more than zero and that it may not be perfect.

I think this post is partly inspired by recent posts and writing progress of Matt Gemmell.


1. I spent longer than I wish to admit writing this and could continue. I even looked up how others have used the phrase for the title while quite certain I still wanted to use it.

2. A decision I often question. To friends, yes I'm still doing it due to three valuable job experiences during my time.

3. Wordpress (before it took over), Tumblr (mixed amongst funny images and videos), Scriptogr.am (clever but possibly abandoned), and Ghost, amongst others.