[Editor’s Note: I couldn’t make up my mind on where to publish this post. Taking the easy way out by first publishing it on uLaaR and now here.]

writers block jamiecarie com

Pic: courtesy jamiecarie.com

Years ago, during my days working at Yahoo, I had a manager (let’s call him “X”) who exhibited an interestingly annoying behavior. He would promptly respond to all my tactical emails but When it came to the less frequent (but potentially game-changing) missives of the Jerry Maguire mission statement kind, I was greeted with… silence. During one of our subsequent 1:1 meetings, X sheepishly admitted that since my strategy emails warranted focused attention, he would “mark” them for later processing.. and the ‘later time’ would never arrive.

As I introspected on my year of TechSangam blogging, I saw a striking parallel between X’s processing of tactical vs. strategic emails and my own decisions on which blog post would next be completed.

There are two reasons why some blog posts end up with a longer gestation period than others. Reason #1 (obvious one) is that the more interesting “today’s topic” tends to trump the ones in the Drafts folder. Reason #2 manifests itself less frequently though it’s more tragic. I’m talking about the “knock the socks off” feeling one gets after meeting some social entrepreneurs – either because the business model was incredibly powerful or the entrepreneur himself was highly inspiring or both.

Since I would want these stories to come out “just right” (or maybe “not wrong”), I would automatically allocate a higher time chunk for their completion. Add to this the constraint/pressure of needing to publish 4-5 posts per week, the easier posts get picked up (and finished) on most days perpetuating the procrastination cycle. And that’s why it’s a tragedy – the most news-worthy posts (according to my editorial judgement) get de-prioritized because of the “weekly post frequency” rule. I suppose there are advantages in the writer and editor being two separate people. 🙂

Here are just a few examples of protracted gestation periods…

  • I first met Dr. Trilochan Sastry in Aug 2011 but it took 4 months before I completed The many lives of Trilochan Sastry – academic, social activist, social entrepreneur.
  • I met V. Ravichandar in Oct 2011 but the corresponding post (A time to ISR) saw the light of day in Mar 2012.
  • I met one of India’s most fascinating social entrepreneurs, Naandi Foundation’s Manoj Kumar, in late Aug 2011. I’m yet to complete that very interesting story.
  • I met Samhita Academy‘s Aparna Goenka in late Oct 2011 but the post still languishes in “Drafts” folder. Recent developments on the Right To Education (RTE) front have increased the urgency so hopefully.. I’ll have this wrapped up before month-end. [Update: this post finally got published on Jun 17, 2012]

An exception to this trend is Murali Vullaganti’s Rural Shores story — an inspiring social entrepreneur and an impressive business model but I managed to turn the post around with a mere 1-day gestation period.

(silent pledge to reduce gestation period of impactful posts)