Questions and answers

A close friend and loyal reader of this blog has asked me a question enough times that I thought I’d share it and take a stab at an answer:

“A number of your posts have questions without any answers, and you sometimes pose these to your readers as if THEY should have the answers.”

Implicit in the (paraphrased) question:

  1. Your job, Sasha, is to give or find answers for your readers
  2. If you don’t know the answers, how do you expect that your readers will?

Fair enough.

So here’s how I think about it.  When I started blogging a year and a half ago, I had no idea what I was getting in to or how big a step I was taking.   What does it take consistently to develop observations/thoughts/insights/questions and making them sharp enough that they’re worth sharing? This is the gift from readers to the blogs they follow, because without readers what you’d have is a journal (something I’m sure I would have abandoned long ago).   Without the audience, the thoughts won’t get completed; the ideas would lie there, undeveloped and fallow.  This is one of the many reasons I’m thankful to all of you for reading and for spreading the word.

Thank you.

The big unanswered question before you start blogging is: what’s “good enough” for a blog post?  At the outset, you can share all the totally-unique-this-one’s-really-important thoughts you’ve been storing up for a while.  But then you run out of those.  And, for me and for this blog (which isn’t a “I read this blog/article, and here’s my take on it” kind of blog) I know that if I thought each post had to contain a world-changing insight, I’d never post anything.

For me, blogging is the discipline of continuing the conversation I’ve begun with my readers and fellow bloggers, constrained by the time I’ve allotted to blogging given my already too-full plate. So when it’s time to post I am where I am: sometimes I have an insight, sometimes I have an observation, sometimes I have a reaction, and sometimes what I have is a question I think is worth asking.

And here’s the secret: when I ask the question and I don’t share the answer, it’s because I don’t KNOW the answer.  But forming the question and honing it into something worth posting requires refinement, it requires getting to the heart of something that’s I think is worth exploring.

And my hope is that you agree that figuring out which questions are worth asking is as important – maybe more important – as my take on answers.  If I can help you discover a question worth asking, you’re confronted (and I’m confronted) with thorny issues you (and I) would rather run away from.  By sifting through and distilling a good question, I hope to offer up something worth answering, a direction for focusing your (and my) energies.

So on the days I don’t have answers, success is a tough question that readers decide is worth sitting with, worth grappling with, worth sharing with a friend, and worth resolving.

(And when you come up with a great answer, by all means, let us know.)

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2 Responses to Questions and answers

  1. Seth Godin says:

    I guess for me, answers aren’t nearly as important as the process of finding one.

  2. Jim Lord says:

    In the sea of posts in my reader, this one hit me like a bolt: Questions, rather than answers.

    You see, Sasha, I’ve found that the forming of questions — and the assumptions embedded within them — is one of the most powerful capacities we have. As we go about finding answers, those hidden assumptions can liberate us or restrict us.

    Bravo, Sasha!

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