Do You Ever Delete Your Thoughts?

OK, I’m not thinking Men in Black where Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones come in with hip black sunglasses and flash a silver probe that erases any memory you have of them or mutating aliens.

It relates more to our writingsmeninblack on our blogs. Getting down on paper/text our thoughts and ideas about social media or technology or whatever focus our blog is designed for. Sometimes ideas come in a snap (like this one), while others take some time to develop. Regardless of our methods, there comes a moment where you’ve written an entire post but then ask yourself this:

Should I even publish this post?

What stops us from hitting that one button that will send our thoughts into the digital world for everyone to see? Did we not believe in our writing? Was it not engaging enough? Was it off base given our blog’s target audience?

I know I’ve hit this rut before but I want to hear from you. What makes you reconsider your thoughts and whether you should publish them or not? Can we ever stay away from second-guessing our writings? Sound off.

11 comments On Do You Ever Delete Your Thoughts?

  • This is an interesting topic, and for me at least, different when done on paper v. digital.

    On paper whatever you’ve written in permanent. If it’s to be published there’s a chance to edit, etc. The actual physical process also somewhat self-limits since you know ‘editing’ will be more difficult.

    On screen it can go completely stream of consciousness and you can end up somewhere other than you intended, or somewhere not even on your map.

    For me right now the dividing line is who I’m writing for. If it’s a PR Breakfast Club post I try harder to stay on topic and not follow my tangents no matter how interesting they may be at the time (if it’s that interesting I’ll start over with the tangent as the goal or make a separate post). At least that way if the original idea was sound I should be fine hitting ‘publish.’

    For my personal blog (prcog.wordpress.com) it’s less of an issue. I’ve had some bombs and some others that got great feedback. I leave that area as my little playground/soap box to pursue whatever stray thought pops into my head. Editing consists of making sure I didn’t make any errors, rarely do I correct my path. If the readers like it, great, if not, then not. They’re free to make their own mistakes =D

    • You make a good comparison between written form and digital. The ability to edit, re-write and even delete has great benefits of course, but also creates an adverse effect to our thoughts at that moment. I’ve had great thoughts starting out a post but come 75% through, they’ve fleeted a bit as I edit and re-read my ideas.

      A good way I’ve slowly learned is to write down the main topics of interest for your post. Everything that pops into your head. And then head over to the digital side and put it all together. Helps in structure but also keeps your thoughts on paper, without the ability to edit them.

  • Awesome question. Gah, the blog world is full of ’em today. 🙂

    Have I dealt with this before? Absolutely. Heck, I’ve addressed my struggle on my blog. I think the hesitation to publish content is comprised of a few different aspects: reputation management, social acceptance, fear of failure and attention to strategy.

    This place is public and all we do here is available for the world to see. If we screw up, if we make no sense, how does that affect the reputation we’ve developed here? Could one post hurt that bad?

    Of course, the social acceptance side of things plays a big role. The Internet is a social space and, if you get right down to the human heart of things, we play here because it’s another place we can find acceptance. There is a niche community somewhere that’ll love us — and, more importantly, our blog is a niche community WE’VE created, so we can’t drop the ball and alienate our loyal community members.

    Fear of failure? Don’t really need to go into that much, we get it. And when it comes to strategy, those of us here who use these tools for professional purposes understand how important it is to remain focused. I think infrequent off-topic posts are great, but there’s a difference between a focused off-topic post and a post that just…fell off its true path.

    Being in public = second guessing yourself on a regular basis. It’ll never stop. How do you combat the effects of self-doubt? Try to care less about what others think and find validation from within.

    • Damn – absolutely spot-on points, T! Not sure I can even add more to your comment…

      The point thing I question, which ties in really all of your main touchpoints, is whether my community will dig it or not.

      Will it hurt my reputation? 1 post certainly won’t, unless you blatantly attack someone for no good reason. But social acceptance, fear of failure and strategy all fall within the scope of that question. We all, for the most part, understand the focus and strategy of our blog – but getting over what others may say, or not say, is definitely important as we continue to grow as bloggers.

      Thanks for your killer input, as always 🙂

  • Sonny, I’ve had half a dozen half-written posts that I ended up deleting because I was interrupted while writing and never finished the posts. Biggest culprits: either I couldn’t remember my train of thought when I eventually stumbled back to writing or by the time I got back to it, the topic felt no longer newsworthy or interesting.

    I think by nature, blogs are designed to be less formal forms of writing, meant of course, for discussion to shape the final thought. I guess if we struggle with a post, it makes sense to write about the struggle. Maybe others feel the same too about a particular topic and it will inspire another round of discussion

    • As I mentioned to @PRCog, writing out my thoughts and ideas, before I even dive into WordPress, provides me with a decent backbone for the post and somewhere I can fall back on if I do get distracted or lose my train of thought.

      But even so, our passion for that particular topic can come and go in an instant, making us lose any desire we originally had for the post. Ebb and flow of it all, I suppose!

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Christina.

  • Great topic – I’m sure you’ll get plenty of feedback!

    I was only recently able to start my blog when I finally finished an entry that I was willing to post online, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. For me, it’s more ‘would anyone be interested in what I have to write?’ than anything else, but half-finished-when-interrupted posts as Christina described above are a close second!

  • Sonny,

    Excellent observation.

    The most common reason for deletion in length, with some thoughts being rifled away for another place and time. I deleted three graphs just today for that reason.

    Other times, a post or portion of a post just might not feel right. Sometimes it might be too snarky or sharp or just too prone to being taken out of context. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit the intent in the first place.

    As communicators or writers, I don’t think most of us will ever get away from second guessing the sentence, paragraph, or post. Maybe that’s a good thing. Not everything needs to shared in the moment.

    All my best,
    Rich

  • I actually do this more with tweets than blog posts. At least a few times a week I’ll tap out a tweet that I think is clever/witty/interesting and in that split second before I hit the enter key, I’ll think, “Gosh, that’s so banal or stupid.” It’s saved me on at least one instance from typing out an emotional reaction to something that might have landed me in hot water!

  • How did we all end up writing about variations of the same topic on the same day? Seriously.

    Anyway, it’s crazy when you think about it! Everything we post online will be available to future generations for an indefinite amount of time. When you step back and think about all the people that will consume your content tomorrow, next week, during the next Olympics, when we land on Mars….it’s sorta mind blowing.

    • Interesting angle to think about as well, Tim. On one hand, we’re thinking of what our readers/community will think and whether it’s touching on enough points to build a solid conversation around. Then you have that community we call family. Loved ones that will be pointed back to your place in this digital world, years from now.

      It’s definitely a lot to think about, especially for those like Chris Brogan, who has brought us into certain aspects of his life w/his kids.

      Thanks for the additional thoughts, Tim!

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