It's meta blogging time, because this is my 200th post. Vanity metrics, I know, but sometimes you've got to celebrate milestones. Even the merely numerical ones. When I wrote my 150th post two years ago, I described why I blog and what about. This time, I want to focus on how I do it and look at the subjects of the last 50.
A lot of posts start on my phone
There are plenty of tools for writing. Fancy physical notebooks, favourite text editors, and what not. I do use both, but usually I start a post on my phone. It somehow is my least distracting device, and very portable. My setup is that I have iA Writer, which I love for its radical simplicity and advanced typography, on my phone and computers. I've got a couple of folders that are synced through iCloud, including for posts and talk ideas. They are literally folders—iA Writer just picks them up and displays them as folders in their UI. When I start a post, I create a file. Sometimes it stays around for days, weeks or months, sometimes I finish a draft in half an hour.
When the post is almost ready, I'll usually do another round on a computer. This is essential if the post needs images or code examples, sometimes I can skip it if a post is just text. This is usually also the time when I start adding it into my website and reach out to people for feedback, if it's the kind of post that very much needs review.
Having my posts exist in a cloud service has been a game changer, because it means I can blog when inspiration strikes. When I used to go swimming, I would sometimes think up a blog post while in the water and write up a quick structure of first draft in the changing room or the cafe nearby. Sometimes I revise a draft when I sit on a tram or bus, or add some more examples when I arrived early for an appointment. Sometimes I return to it on a computer, then a phone, then a tablet.
As for the format: I use Markdown processed by Eleventy. I am aware of the disadvantages, but this is a one-person-who is-a-developer-and-very-comfy-in-a-text-editor blog kind of use case. Still, I am pondering re-introducing a CMS so that it can manage images and history in a way that doesn't involve me committing into git (who needs commits for typos?) or compressing images by hand.
Getting the words flowing
A friend asked how I manage to write on this blog regularly, alongside other responsibilities. I don't know the secret, but I can offer two thoughts.
Firstly, my writing is usually a way to clarify my thinking, it sort of defragments thoughts, if that makes sense. It doesn't really add much to the time I would need for defragmenting thoughts anyway, if anything it speeds that process up. If I spiral in circles about a subject, jotting my thoughts down helps me get out of that spiral. Sometimes the result is I find out I was very wrong, sometimes I get to a post I deem worthy of publishing and often I end up somewhere in between.
Secondly, I try and add ideas to drafts when they come up. Like, I had a file with ‘200’ in it for a while that eventually got a few bullets and then became this post. When I feel like making a thread on social media, I force myself to make a draft post here instead. Occassionally, like when I haven't written for a while, I'll go through the drafts. There isn't really a magic trick here either, it's a habit if anything. And I guess it helps words come to me naturally, like numbers do for others.
Thirdly, a bonus one: it helps me to keep things very simple and stay away from tweaking too many things (eg I only switched tech stack once in 15 years and kept the design roughly the same). I won't say I'm not tempted, I mean it is fun to try out new things and this blog is definitely a playground for me to test new Web Platform features, but I try and focus on the posts.
My 50 most recent posts
The cool thing about having your own blog is that it doesn't need to have a theme per se. Mine follows some of my interests and things I care about: the web, components and accessibility.
A lot of my posts were also about web accessibility, like this primer on ATAG, two posts about low-hanging fruit issues (part 1, part 2) , what's new in WCAG 2.2 and the names section of ARIA. These posts usually start because I had to give some advice in an accessibility audit report I wrote, or because I couldn't find a blog post sized answer to a question I personally had.
I also covered some events, like dConstruct 2022, documentation talks at JSConf and JSNation, Beyond Tellerrand 2021 and an on-stage interview with Cecilia Kang on her fascinating book An Ugly Truth. These kinds of posts help me process what I learned at the event. While I write, I usually look up URLs speakers mentioned or try out features they discussed, so it's a bit of experiencing the whole thing twice.
This year, I hope to write more about CSS and other UI features in the browser. I did one post about using flex-grow for my book site, but want to dive deeper into subjects like scroll snapping, container queries and toggles. Even if Manuel has already covered every single CSS subject ever in the last few months (congrats, my friend!). I also want to cover design systems and Web Components more. I have some other subjects in mind too, and am open to suggestions too, just leave a comment or slide in my DMs. Thanks for reading my blog!