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Toffee blogging

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but RAB’s post here has pricked me into action. I have loads of drafts but I can’t finish them. It’s a perverse form of writer’s block. It’s not that I’m not able to write but that I can’t stop which means I can’t finish.

I think of it as “toffee blogging”. It’s like you leave a bowl of toffees out and they coalesce so that you pick one up and the whole rest comes too.

It doesn’t work. I want to write snappy posts about topical stuff but wind-up turning them into interminable treatises about… Well, everything which means of course writing nothing. And of course they are also abandoned due to their winding-up out of date…

Do any other bloggers have this problem?


  1. SadButMadLad says:


    Yep, start writing something, then realise it’s going to be longer than I planned, so needs researching, then train of thought goes or something more interesting crops up, result is a draft gathering dust.

    Should really feel OK about posting small articles but I always think I need an essay.

  2. Fred Thrung says:

    This is one of the best three or four blogs on the interwebs. Short articles are good because they tell us you are still there exercising the little grey cells. Please don’t stop.

  3. NickM says:

    Why thanks Fred!

    “Don’t stop”?

    I can’t! That’s the problem!!!

  4. John Galt says:

    Yup. Completely sympathise. I’ve had exactly this problem, but it comes down to the very holistic nature of what CCiZ covers. It’s unsurprising that you have boundary issues.

    Equally, when you are talking about such fundamental issues as state intrusion, some allied aspects such as ever increasing expansion of state payrolls or state deficit/debt levels are “sticky” (in the way that toffee’s are sticky) and it seems remiss not to talk about them or leave them out. However that’s the way to end up knitting scarves instead of socks.

    The only way that I’ve found to avoid the interminably relevant is to stick to a single topic and allow myself 3 or four points to get across before closing out. Maximum of 1½ of A4.

    You need to also recognize that there are some posts that don’t fit the length for a blog and break them down into multiple structured postings on different aspects of the same topic. An example of this was Gildas the Monk’s postings at Anna Raccoon’s blog on “The Black Death, past, present and future” which was broken down into 5 separate postings over 2 weeks.

    Obviously everyone has their own style…

  5. RAB says:

    As you all know, I have been writing articles for money for over 35 years now. But when I was handed the keys to the Kitty Kingdom, I found that it wasn’t the same thing at all.

    When I write an article for the MSM it is intended to inform and amuse. It is not intended to draw comments and discussion. It stands alone. But that is exactly what a Blogpost is all about… To encourage commenters to comment and discuss.

    Commenting is a piece of piss, as I had been doing on Samizdata, here, and various other sites for years. You are being reactionary in the proper sense of the word, reacting to what is in front of your face. But writing a blogpost is quite different. How far do you go? How much to tell? Lynne is our very best Fisker, she knows just how far to go, but sometimes when I try it I think perhaps I’m laying it on a bit thick and not leaving room for the commentariat to comment themselves, which after all is the basic point of a Blog, to stimulate others out there to formulate ideas and make their points too. It should be a conversation not a didactic newspaper.

    I’m still feeling my feet as yet, but I think I’m getting there slowly. And if all else fails, there is always the bloody anecdotes! :-) Yes… the Man who never was… will be appearing soon.

    So it took me a fair while to find my voice and style

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    Yep. I often find, in a similar way, that I start writing and my train of thought goes off in so many different directions that I lose touch with what I was trying to say, or end up arguing against myself. Which is actually rather good excercise in organizing one’s thoughts, but it doesn’t get the posts… posted.

    RAB’s right too; posting is a very different thing to commenting. Especially for a group blog like this which clearly has a theme of sorts, but no definite boundaries. It’s sometimes difficult to steer a line between banging on about the same things day after day and self-indulgently wandering into irrelevant waffle that nobody else is interested in. So you end up saying nothing at all.

    Mind you, having said both of those things, the posts I’m most satisfied with have often started out as comments for other blogs that started to ramble and got out of hand. That’s the beauty of blogging, I suppose: ideas bounce around. A post there prompts a post here, which prompts another post elsewhere, and things get discussed.

  7. NickM says:

    Lynne is our best fisker. But I have also fisked here with similar sometimes wish to again but… I just don’t. I’ve gone beyond that. That might sound arrogant. It is not. Partly it is just how many times can you grab George Monbiot by the shoulders and shriek truth and partly… I dunno. Lynne both does it so well (is that a reason for my shirking?) and I am just so tired of being angry. I’ve chucked enough mortar rounds at the enemy to start to think (esp. with youse* lot here) I have to re-jig my blogoself. Because it’s gotta be fun or what is the point? Of anything.

    It’s like e in mathematics (Euler’s number). It comes into almost everything but everything taken large-scale is pretty much nothing.

    And I dunno but in a related way it’s like, after a while, you go from “Woo! I can type what I like” to wishing perfection not just in what you type but how it is read and totally unrealistically you want Michelangelo’s David and not the enormous snow cock-and-balls you made in the garden to outrage the Methodists. I wish I’d done that just once though my brother and I did once create a simulacrum of a Holy Roman Emperor in snow. A Max I think.

    I’m like a ship without a rudder and I’ve all got to various for me.

    - And yes, as in the JG post there is a virtual cigar for the literary allusion there.

    Chrome picked up the worst but it is late…

    *A genuine Geordisim

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