Abstracts Are Not Perfect


They leave outside a lot of information

Man holding a book by Machael Lewis.
Photo by Trần Toàn on Unsplash

I was researching for a paid article I am going to write on cognitive bias, when I remembered that I really dislike abstracts for researching my articles.

I get bored the same second I open an abstract. I just see an enumeration of concepts, empty of reasoning and content, and then I scroll, hoping to find something interesting.

I never do.

The reason is that it simply bores me to death, and I end scrolling to the end of the summary without reading a single word.

Those abstracts are empty of all emotion, they do not sound human, and when you want to deliver information to the public, you need to make it in a way that makes your reader resonate with it. It must be easy to read, not a technical manual. Anyone who looks for technical manuals will never look for an abstract. Trust me, I used to read those.

However, the main issue with abstracts is how to define what is filler content. You should be able to reduce everything you write to the minimum, but this does not mean that you should cut a text into little meaningless pieces, not only because you will lose some small nuances after the trimming. But also because we do not see the same parts as important and what might interest who reads the book in the first place might be irrelevant for the person reading the abstract.

Full books deliver you all the information unfiltered; They include every piece of information that the original author wanted to give you, delivered the way the author intended it to be, so the reader understands its meaning; and once you read it, it is up to you to decide what is useful and what is not, while they still allow you to scan them. Nowadays, with digital books, you even can type what you are looking for to jump there. And for the rest of the searches, there is Google.

If you have the time, and you like to read, you will profit more from reading the full book from start to finish to find later your own conclusions on the matter.


Abstract

To me, there is no simple way to learn things. Summaries are useful to learn a few random facts to spew at parties, but do not deliver beyond that because they do not dive deep into the topic.

It is always better to read the full text on everything, even if some books could be shorter, it is still better to have available every minor detail to understand the topic you are reading about.

Kanye West writing a blog

I Like to Write Too

I do not only translate texts or fix cars. I also enjoy writing about several topics, ranging from comedy to philosophy or even society. It is something that makes my brain work on new ideas and keeps it exercised. But you have already seen this in some of my previous posts.

Writing is exercise for the brain, as solving math exercises or playing music can be as well. With the advantage of allowing us to release on those sentences whatever we have in our heads. To me, my primary worry lately has been my inertia. Inertia matters, because it is what makes us focus on a single task. It helps us to excel at it, but I have lost it for some weeks. Now I am ready to write again.

I started this section to prove my English speaking and writing skills, but writing has proven to be a great way to keep being constant and productive. It takes most of those absurd thoughts out of the brain. Sometimes as absurd as a chicken playing piano, but way less futile.

My upcoming plans are to monetize this place. I have been writing on Medium for some time, and I have tried Vocal, but the best way to monetize my writing will be to add some advertisements on this blog section and keep the stories free to read for anyone interested in them.

I want to create a personal blog that makes enough money to pay its own hosting, so soon you will start seeing more original content in this section of my website.

Kanye West writing a blog

Formatting Like Crazy Will Not Save Your Story

Why you should not abuse of aesthetical resources when writing

I have been writing on Medium for some months now, enough to know that because I have mentioned them, they will not choose this story for further distribution — curation, for the newbies.

And I have been writing enough time to have learned from my mistakes in previous stories through experience, and through the advice of some people who have helped me.

When I arrived here, I read a lot of stories about how to be curated, and how to increase the number of reads. Most of their advice promised to provide lots of reads, and so, lots of money.

This is the worst advice I read ever. It does not work on any platform, not even in Vocal or Substack. If you expect to make obscene amounts of money with generic writing advice, you are wrong.

Format Like Kanye West

I cannot remember if that was the actual title, but this story advised its readers to use bold letters whenever they could, add lots of pictures, italics, and whatever could be added.

As an amateur writer, that surprised me, but at that point, I did not know what I know about writing on the internet. So, I took the advice seriously and implemented that advice.

I added lots of formatting and lots of pictures to everything. I had to spend hours looking for pictures in Unsplash. And it was a massive loss of time because placing many unrelated pictures distracts the reader, and it is even worse when those pictures are generic stock photos that everyone can easily use.

A picture must always be related to the story you are writing and be the most original possible. It must add value, not make the reader look away. In my personal case, I like to edit my own pictures to deliver the information in a funny way. They help the reader to understand better my content.

Image for post
Image by Anastasia Gepp. Modified by the author

Also, publications dislike seeing a ton of unrelated generic pictures, and if they see this, they will reject your pieces without reading them. It happened to me many times.

Then we have the bold letter abuse. I’m quitting on that right now, thanks to the advice of Amy J. Wall, and my recent experience writing on Vocal, where formatting has more limitations.

Bold letters are used to emphasize, they make your readers’ attention go directly towards a point in the page, but if you abuse them, you will make your readers lose their focus, and chances are they will close your story before finishing it, and the abuse of bold letters is another thing that will make a lot of good pieces be rejected.

Abusing cosmetics will never make-up for a poorly written story where there is no obvious outcome for the reader, so it is pointless to attempt to do that with serious publications.

Publish Something New Every Day

This one is another useless tip given by poor writers. It is repeated everywhere, and it does not work, because if your potential readers see invaluable content every time they visit your blog, they will eventually stop reading it.

When you write, you must deliver valuable content to your reader because that is what they expect, but creating decent content takes its time. You can finish a day having nothing good to publish, and that is perfectly fine too. You are a writer, not an AI writing machine.

Try instead to write a bit every day to keep practicing. It will relieve you from the pressure of the need for publishing, and when you liberate yourself from it, creativity flows better than when you spend your days typing without intention. And best-selling articles take time to be crafted.

Bonus Poor Advice: Just Hit Publish and Forget About It

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Image by ashish choudhary from Pixabay. Modified by the author

This one is the worst advice I have read to date.

Right today, I had to revise one of my old pieces here in Medium because it had some typos and mistakes. Why? Because when I wrote it, I hit Publish and forgot about it.

Here we are not only writers, but we also are editors. It is on us to deliver the final product to the reader, and that means it must meet quality standards. It is never enough to write the piece, it must also be edited carefully for it to be readable. This applies to every platform, specially, if you run your own independent blog.

Takeaway

Writing something takes time. Your work needs to be well written and formatted to keep a high-quality standard and an excellent reputation as a writer. Do not abuse visual effects to compensate a terrible story and focus on properly delivering your ideas.

And now, I’m going to wait two days, then I will edit this piece, and only then I will hit Publish.