I Will Not Strive to be 100% Correct

Why I won’t even aim for 99% correct in my articles No article can be perfect so we should not strive for perfection. Write what you love and the rest will come.

I Will Not Strive to be 100% Correct
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3 Reasons Why I Will Not Strive to be 100% Correct

Why I won’t even aim for 99% correct in my articles

As a new technical writer, I thoroughly enjoy Medium. It makes it easy to stay up-to-date with current events and to learn new concepts. Recently, I was challenged on why I am writing. Someone shared that unless my articles are 100% correct they are utterly useless. That really got me thinking — why am I writing? I came to the decision I should never be 100% correct. I won't even strive to be at 99% and here is why:

1. It’s not why I write


My goal with every article I write is to learn. If I am not learning while I am creating an article, I eventually lose interest and it will sit in my drafts queue. That is until I work up the courage to delete all the articles I am no longer pursuing.

For a while, I thought it’s selfish to write articles only on things I want to learn about. I mean, why does it have to be all about me? What about the concerns of the people who read my articles? Thankfully, a friend was able to set me straight by pointing me to the definition of selfish.

Selfish: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

As I was reading over that, it hit me: writing about things that I have a use for is in my readers' best interest. If I can’t apply something, then I shouldn’t be writing about it. This also mirrors advice a mentor of mine gave me:

Only give advice on things you have experience with. If you don't have any applicable experience with something, should you really be advising people on it?

From these two things, I get my recipe for making articles. First, I learn through a project of some sort. Then, I reflect on what I learned by creating an article. The benefit of learning and then writing is that I know what pieces are needed to learn a topic. The downfall is there may be gaps in what I have learned that will only be filled in later as I learn more.

2. It stops readers from thinking critically

This one is more of a soft reason. If I write articles with all of the details then my readers won’t have to critically think about the problem. I don't want passive readers! Most of my articles only ever contain snippets of code. This helps prevent readers from using my articles like stack overflow.

The errors left in my code aren’t there intentionally. Often they are there as I am manually transposing them. The beautiful thing about this is people fact check me all the time and I love it! Here is one example from Alexandre Sapet, where my code was not running as I described in my article:

Still, your first gist about memoization has a few incoherences:
- funcCalls vs funcRuns
- you say that the list comprehension calls f 2 times, whereas it calls f 5 times

I was thrilled that people weren’t taking my code at face value and were putting it to the test! This allowed me to correct a technical error and see where I could add clarity. Meaningful engagement really excites me as it allows for everyone to learn a little more and share their experience.

3. It's not worth my time


This is one area where I will say I am selfish. Writing an article for me can take anywhere from 2–20 hours. Here is the typical writing process I go through:

  1. Find a problem or topic to dive into (10 - 15 min)
  2. Learn the topic or what it will take to solve the problem (10 min - 4 hours)
  3. Apply what I have learned (10 min - 4 hours)
  4. Write about the topic (1 - 2 hours)
  5. Edit the article for grammar and SEO (10 - 20 min)
  6. Submit to publication and if denied submit to another publication (5 - 10 min)

For the mathletes, you will notice my times from my list don't add up to the 2–20 hour range. This is mostly because it can really vary. For example, with one of my recent articles about logging in Python, I spent closer to 40 hours as I struggled to understand the underlying concepts. These are just the best estimates I could come up with for what a typical article takes.

For some articles, this effort really pays off, such as “Advanced Python List Methods and Techniques — Python Like a Pro”. At the time I am writing, this article has been viewed by 7.3k people. The logging in Python article that I mentioned earlier, despite all the time, ended up being a huge flop with only 270 views.

I would have to double the amount of time easily on each article to be 100% correct on everything. With a baby girl on the way, a full-time job, and side projects galore it doesn't make sense to put even more time into my articles. I write to learn, share, and because I enjoy it. Killing myself to be 100% or even 99% correct would rob me of the joy I feel from writing the articles and that would show in the quality.