From IndieWeb

How to stop rewriting your site and write more was a session at IndieWebCamp Nuremberg 2023.

Notes archived from: write


Session Notes

  • reasons why people are here/what stops them:
    • perfectionism
    • how to make site more helping towards writing
    • lots of "I have this technical issue"

Observation: people don't mind talking about the tech things, but don't like writing/are slow about it

Writing text vs code:

    • code not public
    • ease/familarity for workflow

is being ignored or widely shared more scary?

Blog posts vs "digital garden"/wiki/... - mental expectation that a blog post with a "release date" is finished vs more fluent things. have things marked as "drafts" publicly?

why care about that distinction?

private writing/journaling replaced motivation to put things out there.

Why even publish?

  • Writing about things done makes things more real
  • Thereapeutic
  • technical stuff to share knowledge, get gained knowledge out to others and be able to look it up again yourself
  • community aspects/similar topics/contacts
  • be somewhat known under "own identity"
  • "I made this website with all these cool features, I should use it"
  • reference for students

After session Additional Notes

There seems to be three main problems, when it comes to the reason, why people (present) do not write a lot: perfectionism, not knowing what to write and having the time, and code being more fun.

Reasons for writing

There can be many reasons of why the people would want to write. There can range from simply being the expression of their own creativity, to pump their ego, to prove the world wrong/to educate the world, the raise awareness, to improve the writing/communicating skills, to keep a record for the future self (or somebody else), for the sense of community, for therapeutic purposes, to control the emotions, to help with the thinking process and so on.

Here I want to concentrate on the two of them, since they are not usually discussed as the writing reasons.

Writing helps with thinking. The concept behind is the Extended Mind, which says, that the mind is not only inside the brain or the body, but also in the outside world. By putting the words on the outside medium (like the screen or the paper), the words can be out-loaded outside of the brain, and can therefore be manipulated easier. This would have the same effect, as increasing the working space capacity (or RAM for the more technical example).

This can also help with the problem solving. By having the pieces on the outside, there is more capacity to make connections between them. The same is true for documenting solution one found. This way, the solution is there for future use cases, and one does not need to rely on the memory for this.

The writing is used in the therapy to help with their emotions and trauma. It is the similar principle as above. But putting the words on the paper or screen, they can be looked from the outside and manipulated on a different way. Also, since language and emotional modules are not the same, this can allow the topic to become less emotionally charged.

What to write about

What to write about is usually connected to the reasons for writing.

But in case you need prompts to write about, one way to do this would be looking at the blogging carnival. They are monthly events with prompts on the specific topic, that people can write about on their blog. The hosts change, so the topic can therefore be quite varies. Most keep the prompts of the previous months.

The second case is anything you spend a lot of time resolving or thinking about. Writing is a good way, to record the current thinking on the subject or to record the solution to the specific problem.

The third case could be the exchanges. I am stealing this from the fanfiction community. In these, there are events, when people request, what they want to read, and people offer specific topics they want to write about. And then people are paired.

So maybe, if somebody asks you a question, you can record the answer in the text.

Getting yourself to write

One of the reasons people don't write is because code is more fun and easier. Since the IndieWeb community still have a lot of tech people, and these people do code for the living, code is just a more natural way of expressing itself (or, the opposite, they don't want to see the code, after looking at it all day).

One group of people, that every year forces themselves to write are the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write a novel draft of 50.000 words during November. The 50.000 words is a very short novel or a bit longer novella, so reaching this number of words does mean, that it is a book.

In order to reach that number for non-professional writers, they take the principle of separating the writing from the editing. The month of November is for writing, and editing happens in the months afterwards - assuming you do it in a way it is intended.

Now once can imagine, even for somebody that attempts this, there are days, that people are not that inspired to write. They are using different strategies, to motivate themselves:

  • The first is writing sprints competitions. Get yourself a writing buddy (or compete with the past version of yourself). Set a clock to the 5 or 10 minutes and try to write as many words as possible. Whoever writes the most words wins.
  • If you are stuck on the particular point, then add additional constrains. The easiest constrain to add is to force yourself to use a specific word in the next paragraph. You can find these words in any major online dictionary. Some examples for English are Cambridge, Merriam Webster, or Oxford. There are other constrains, like for example using the metaphor, using as many colors as possible. Using at least 10 jargon words in the next paragraph. Writing as Dr. McCoy from Star Trek or Barbie from the new Barbie movie.
  • Sometimes, having a specific place to write in can also help. The Written Kitten and Write or Die were popular with writers a couple of years ago. Another one I heard about on this IndieWeb Camp is The Most Dangerous Writing App, which will delete all your writing, if you stop for too long. Depends on what motivates a person. Having a cute pictures every X number of words? Something that will delete the words, if you do not continue writing? Something that will not allow you to edit words in that program.
  • Finding a group of people, that write at the same place can also help. This is why the quiet hour at the start of the Homebrew website club can be helpful.

You can also read about other people blogging process to get an inspiration:


The first is perfectionism. People don't write, because they think it needs to be perfect, and that is why they continue tinkering with it. This applies to both the code/design and the writing.

Let me first attempt to deal with the coding / design one. There are at least two main reasons, why people would tinker with the code instead of writing. The first is, that they are having more fun with the code / find the code more important. This is perfectly valid decision, and it this case - good job. I think you are already doing what you want, and don't let anybody convince you otherwise.

The second could be a way of dealing with procrastination. The examples from the session were moving to a different content management system or adjusting the template. In this case I would ask, if the design distract from the writing? Because in reality, all one needs to publish on the web is to host a txt files. Even the HTML can be made optional. If the main goal is the spread of the information, having just a text files is perfectly valid way. Think about what do you want to achieve with this changes and are they more important then the showing content.

Procrastination because of the perfectionism is also another one. I asked the people there, if they are alright with reading a non-perfect writing on the internet. There was a mention of annoyance, that if they are looking for specific solution, and it is promised and not delivered. Otherwise, people were generally alright with it.

Also, only by writing can the writing be improved. We can talk about the best method of how to improve writing, they will all involve writing. And just doing it will improve it up to a certain level.

Feel free to ask somebody to be the beta reader. This are the people, that one shows the writing first and they give their opinion on. This can be a good indicator, if it is perfectionism, or if the writing still needs work because it is unclear. Outsource the perfectionism to somebody, who's opinion you trust.

Some people use digital gardens for the same purpose. Not categorizing it as the finished piece makes it easier to write for them. There are many other strategies.

Having the time

People that say, that they do not have the time to write, usually have the priorities, that are more important than that. IndieWeb has the life happens policy, which says, that it is perfectly alright to drop out of community - and there should be no guilt-tripping and shaming for this.

It is the same for writing. It is perfectly fine, you somebody does not write. There are many other ways to participate in the IndieWeb community or on the internet.

Though sometimes we allow ourselves to get distracted by things, that are less important to use. In this case, it makes sense to mindfully notice this and then have a way to try and either eliminate the distraction or make the important thing easier to do.

Some of the community members have been writing about their attempts in doing this:

See Also