Why I write long posts

In case you hadn’t noticed, yes, I do tend to write long posts.

Sorry…

There are folks around who are real masters of succinct writing. Seth Godin, for example.

And I’ll have to admit I’m not good at writing succinct summaries. There’s a lot of craft and skill that goes into Seth’s pithy phrasings: and I just ain’t got that kind of craft or skill. (Or time, for that matter: it takes a long time to write that short.)

Sorry…

Yet even Seth writes long sometimes. (Or long-ish, anyway.) He writes long when the content needs to be long. When the content needs context, background, argument, explanation.

And there’s nothing to be sorry about there.

Most of what I write about is in that second category: it needs to be long. It’s exploratory, uncertain; a lot of it is ‘thinking out loud’ about some knotty, gnarly problem where the answer would pop out on its own, without any trouble at all, if only we could find the right way to phrase the question.

That’s the core of it, right there: answers are easy – finding the question is what’s hard.

So yes, I ramble at times (too often?). I look at things from many different angles (too many?). I search for subtleties (too subtle?) that hide somewhere (where?) in the spaces (what spaces?) between the building-blocks of the narrative. Sure, I often have an egregiously alliterative attitude to grammar, but the carelessness is actually a lot more careful than it looks: I’m searching for the knowledge behind the narrative, where the only tool I have is narrative itself. Right down the rabbit-hole, if I’m not darn careful… with a real risk of taking others down the rabbit-hole in all that rabbiting-on, too.

It’s what I do, though; part of who I am. Sorry…

Yet that long writing does get somewhere, even if somewhat slowly, in its long-winded way. There’s a lot here on this website, including ideas and tools and techniques that you won’t find anywhere else: SCAN and Enterprise Canvas, to give just two examples. Yet because I do write long, what you’ll also find here is all of the thinking behind those tools and techniques – which makes it easier for you to work out how to use them (or not-use them) in your own context. That matters: it matters a lot, in real-world practice.

That’s why I write long. There are plenty of other places where you can go for short, succinct, prepackaged answers: and if that’s what you need, you’d be better off there than here. But if those predefined answers don’t work for you, and what you need is a better understanding of the questions, then that’s what this space is about.

And that’s something I don’t need to apologise for.

Hope it helps, anyway: let me know, perhaps?

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7 comments on “Why I write long posts
  1. “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”, George Washington.

    Having quoted that: You add your value to the community which is great and I personally find a lot of input in the way you look at things (not that I am able to adapt to all of it, and I am not even supposed to as you write), because it allows me to explore your way of thinking and therefore get another point of view to add to my knowledge and I also find a lot of value in shorter more marketing like statement, because it forces me to think myself and search myself for an answer.

    And I know myself that I speak and write longer than the typical short sentence marketing statements (and i know I have excused for it, but I know I did it to provoke reactions).

    So keep going, you add value and I like it a lot.

    KR,
    Kai Schlüter

  2. Ondrej Galik says:

    Tom, you do bring a lot of value to the community and you’re “sorry” for that??? World’s gone crazy today!:) Come on, nobody’s forced to read it (except my subordinates, if I had any;), and people still do. Keep it up, please!

  3. Tom G says:

    Kai, Ondrej – many thanks!

    I’m glad to know I provide value for you: I do always struggle with self-doubt on that point…

    Yet I’m not actually apologising as such (though it probably doesn’t help in this that I have an English upbringing that all but demands we apologise endlessly even for existing…). It’s more that people do complain that I write ‘too long’ – such as a Tweet yesterday, about the post on ‘The meaning of purpose’, that “That’s a big post for a 6 letter word lol”. And I do have to respect that: hence a (probably-too-long?) explanation of why I tend to write long.

    Oh well.

    But thanks again, anyway – much appreciated!

  4. Pat says:

    Speaking of Seth Godin … He wrote one just for you … you have a voice, a soapbox, and you have earned the right to be heard because your community keeps on coming back to read more.

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/09/the-soapbox-and-the-city.html

  5. Hi Tom, I’m not bothered by long posts. They are usually more interesting and provide more value and food for thought. Keep it up.
    Adrian

  6. pradeep says:

    I come to this site everyday out of curiosity that what Tom would have written today(Its almost like drinking my coffee in the morning before i start my work).There is a wealth of knowledge available here which helps people like me tremendously.
    I kind of like the long posts because it helps me understand the thought process or should I Say say “thinking about thinking” (I guess thats what EA should do).I read sometimes your long post more than once so eventhough they are long they are very intriguing,insightful and thought provoking. Keep doing what you do. Dont change your style of writing. Please!!!

  7. Tom G says:

    Pat, Adrian, Pradeep – again, many thanks. It does help me to know that the long-form posts do provide real value for you, certainly.

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