Our world of rampant over-sharing could use a little more self-editing.
Self-editing isn’t about censoring yourself, or reducing yourself or your work to some narrow, unrepresentative slice. Self-editing is about only sharing the best of what you have to put out there.
Yet our approach is all too often one of spray and pray. There’s plenty of space on the internet for you throw whatever your want out there in whatever volume you want throw it. It’s also very fast and very easy to do—whether we’re talking about status updates or a scantily curated portfolio site. Any why not take this approach? From a personal perspective, it’s great to feel like people are paying attention to you and care about what you have to say (come on, we’re all human right?), and from a professional perspective, how do you begin to guess what piece of work may sway a future employer or client to hire you? Look at how prolific you are! Let the people decide for themselves!
If only. For obvious reasons, self-editing is essential and luckily comes down basic questions. Is whatever you’re putting out there the best representation of a smaller piece of a more cohesive you? Will your audience be moved or delighted or spurred to action by what they see? Does it have value given its (current) context?
Answering these questions is the hard part, and the answers are invariably audience-dependent. Self-editing can be particularly tricky because of the closeness of the subject matter to you—it may all seem relevant and important. It’s not. I went through this process recently as I culled 50% of the content on this blog. Blasphemous in some web content-makers’ circles? Yes. Is that of any consequence to me? Not really. Any argument that failure to immortalize every shred of anything ever published here (or anywhere) is somehow “inauthentic” doesn’t hold water for me. Further, and perhaps more importantly, I don’t think anyone will desperately miss the stale content I retired.
In the end, cohesiveness and timeliness will always tell a more compelling story than comprehensiveness.