Trying Something Different With the Schedule

When we first started Wait But Why, we put a note at the top of the site that read:

New post every Monday and Thursday

Seemed like a reasonable plan. Two posts a week was challenging but manageable, and for a brand new blog with zero readers, we felt that a clear and consistent schedule was key.

It worked nicely for a while. But then something started to happen that we hadn’t anticipated at the beginning—I started writing really long posts. My natural inclination was to be pretty thorough about everything, but I never planned to dig into each topic to such an extreme level.

As the posts became longer and longer, twice a week was putting me on the verge of death at all times, so we shifted to once a week and changed the tagline to:

New post every Tuesday

Problem solved, almost. The issue is, with more time for each post, my perfectionism kicked up a notch and the posts quickly became even more thorough. I found myself in a weekly battle with my own head, one which I explained a few months ago here. Due to both the behemoth each post had become and a slew of my own vices, I pulled an all-nighter (or two) almost every single week, posts were never ever done on time, and I soon changed the tagline to:

New post every Tuesday(ish)

And that was cute when the posts would go up on Wednesday morning. But in the last six months, things have gone to yet another level, and the posts have become such beasts that many of them have ended up being 2-3 week projects.

It’s not that that’s bad—the two AI posts, for example, took a combined six weeks and over 400 hours of work, but that’s what that topic called for, and it would have been a mistake to shortchange it by forcing myself to do it in one week—but it’s clear that after over a year of Wait But Why being a supposedly weekly blog, another tagline change is in order.

A few thoughts on where we are now and why this change is happening:

1) Right now, I feel guilty doing super-thorough posts that take two or three weeks to do, because we tell people at the top of the site to expect a new post every week. AI was an exception, but for the most part, I’ve avoided topics that seem too big for this reason.

2) There are a bunch of post ideas I have that would make a great two-day project and short post, but right now, that doesn’t feel like enough to warrant being “the big weekly post,” so I end up avoiding those posts too.

3) Even for the topics that do satisfy my weekly posting criteria, given the erratic and variable amount of work each post requires (an amount which is often unpredictable when I choose a post topic), it’s very hard to consistently hit the “week long project” sweet spot, and the schedule has become totally unpredictable anyway.

So A) the current schedule puts me into a bit of a rigid box when choosing post topics, and B) the benefit of it is supposed to be predictability and reliability for the reader, and clearly it has not been delivering on this benefit. Time for a change.

Since “New post every sometimes would confuse the shit out of new readers who discover the site and haven’t been privy to the ongoing drama of my insanity, we’re going to try leaving the tagline off altogether for now. [Update: New readers can just deal with it.]

Posting will happen sometimes. The goal is for this to open up more possibilities for what I can do on the site, without a decrease in productivity. It will be erratic—after a post goes up, the next one might go up two days later or three weeks later—but I don’t expect the overall level of productivity to decrease at all.

And as before, this is a test. If it works well and solves problems, we’ll keep it. If it causes new, unforeseen problems, we’ll change things up again.

Two final notes for you:

1) We love your feedback. Emails from readers consistently make our day (even when it’s not possible for us to respond), and this site is a relationship between us and you. Like any good relationship, communication is key, so make sure to tell us about your experience as a reader—we pay close attention to everything we hear from you. This schedule change is happening partially because of reader feedback.

2) If you want an easy way to know when a new post goes up, sign up for the email list. We don’t send emails very often—about once a week (we sent 40 total in 2014)—and it’s almost always to send you the new post right when it goes up.

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