I have been coming across several articles around writing recently.
- One was about how writing down before building helps and
- The other was about how writing is hard but good for you
I have also been writing a lot lately with the sole purpose of getting thoughts out of my head and onto paper. I have realized that writing clears the mind.
The primary purpose of my writing is leaving notes for my future self. I don't always remember things with the same clarity as I do when I am actively working on them. A typical day has me switching between React, Typescript, Webpack, Wordpress, PHP, GraphQL, Kotlin and Rails.
There are millions of minor gotchas with every piece that had to be figured out along the way. When switching contexts, I usually run into the same problems again. It’s great relying on memory but if you want to work on a wider variety of technologies, it’s easier to maintain a personal log of issues you run into and how you worked around them.
Think of it like a personal stack overflow
How do I maintain two SSH configs and switch between the profiles when working on different projects? Write it down after the first time you figure it out. Then you have it for eternity and it probably helps someone else too.
This super charges productivity because you can switch projects but pick up right where you dropped off. Without having to rely on your memory.
I sleep better now because some of these thoughts that were living rent free in my head have been captured and evicted from my mind. It gives me more head space. I am not making this up.
When I didn’t write blog posts, ideas and opinions (with varying degrees of passion) randomly pop up in my head. I’ll sometimes have a great idea (I think) and kick myself for not being able to remember it.
Worse yet, I’ll see someone else write a very similar thought and feel like an idiot for not jotting it down. Now I write thoughts down, even if they are not fully formed. What was once fleeting is now available for me to pick up on and ruminate when I have the time. It’s an endless supply of writings prompts and helps me focus with what I am doing because I know I can get back to my thought later.
Writing allows you to ruminate on ideas.
It allows you to think about a topic in great detail and gain clarity. You think you know a topic? Try to write an article about it and you will recognize how much gaps exist in your ability to explain it.
Writing helps fill those gaps. It gives me the same opportunity I would have if I were explaining the idea to someone else.
It's like rubber ducking but on steroids.
I hated my writing style (and still do). This shouldn't stop you from writing. You get better at the things you constantly keep practicing. Same goes for writing. You cannot look at well written, well researched, thoughtful article that was published on a reputable blog great editing and compare your writing to that. You can, but it will make you hate your writing.
The better thing to do is to write regularly and try to get better at it over time. Once you hit a state of flow, there's no stopping. Your quality usually improves over time and you won’t even realize it.
I was struggling with how to word this but this article captures it really well. The first draft is for you to write down a stream of consciousness and then figure out things like outline and what the focal point of the article is.
When writing for external publications, everyone wants you to provide an outline first. It makes perfect sense but I always struggled with it because writing to me was more stream of consciousness and an interconnected graph of tangential ideas rather than a neatly structured piece.
I have always heard people offer solutions to that but it only clicked when I started rewriting.
First draft is for you, the second is for others.
This works especially well for me because. I don't always know where I am going with a piece until I am done with it. That’s the first draft. The second draft adds structure, finds a thesis from the wall of text and starts to congregate around a central point. I have learned to embrace my “go with the flow” style which feels liberating. I also come back to a piece and rework it - most times it’s worthy of publishing but sometimes I also discard it. But it helps to have that ability to think on paper.
Rewriting is where the actual article takes shape.
- Write often – it is good for you
- Writing is hard but you have to power through
- Writing provides clarity of thought and exposes gaps in your understand
- It’s a great way to be productive and similar to having a personal stack overflow instance
- Capturing ideas as they pop up frees your mind and helps you focus
- First draft is for you. Second is for others
- Work with your quirks and find a routine that works for you