Blogging isn’t easy. You have to come up with a topic, write about it, and then release it for the world to see. That’s three kinds of pressure. Now most of us don’t have hundreds or thousands of readers, but the pressure is still there, and it can lead to the trap of not writing. Not writing because you don’t have any ideas, not writing because someone has already written about it, not writing because you don’t have time or energy to write it perfectly, maybe even not writing because no one reads the posts or comments on them. Here’s my Zen advice: write more. Write about things that interest you, that you learn about, that you care about. Posts don’t need to be an arbitrary length. Post a sentence, a paragraph, or more – whatever you feel like writing. Blogging is about writing. Just write.
Does writing more make you a better writer? Yes and no. Like most things in life if you do it enough you get past syntax, past the fear of saying “it’s done, you can look at it”. Writing more, especially quickly, isn’t going to magically improve your spelling and grammar. Work on it,or not, as you prefer. Writing more will make you better at taking thoughts from your head and getting them into a shareable format. That has value far beyond blogging. It will change how and when you communicate, especially via email.
How long does it take before it gets easier? It’s not 5 posts, it’s probably not 50. At 50 you’re making progress and somewhere between there and 500 you feel like you can at least write about a topic when needed and you’re a lot – a lot! – better at finding topics.
Want to take a break from writing? Absolutely! Just put a post up that says you’re on break. To me that looks so much better than a blog that is active, then abandoned. Which do you think looks better then the next client/employer happens across it?
I’ve written this in about 5 minutes and it probably shows. I’ve got an hours worth of thoughts on this, but I don’t know when I’ll find that hour, so I’d rather put this out now and maybe, just maybe, spur someone to start, or resume, writing.
12 thoughts on “Blogging-Write More”
I can’t remember where I read this – Hemingway or Steven King or the like, one of the prolific authors – but they basically said, when it’s time to write and you’re not in the zone, just sit down and start banging out words. You’re going to throw away several pages worth of stuff, but once you’ve settled back into the zone, you’ll be producing good work. The key is knowing the parts to throw away.
Brent, I think that’s right. I can’t say it’s what I do. There are things I write, let sit, edit, revise, but more often I don’t. In part I’m trying to get better at writing an idea cleanly in one pass. I’ll never get it perfect, but arguably can/have gotten better. The other part is sheer time boxing – I can only devote x amount of time or it just won’t get done, so I’m willing to release writing that is less than polished (and I know it shows) because I’ve opted for volume over quality. Not saying it’s right or that it works for anyone else or that I won’t change, but it’s been a useful approach.
Nice post. This inspires me to write something and so I am posting my comments on this post. You are right about finding excuses not to write.
Aziz, I’m glad it inspired! Post a link here when you do, Im looking forward to reading it.
There are two things that are helping me out a lot right now, and they both go back to “I’ve explained this before”. First, if I don’t have a post on something that I need to help someone understand and I’ve explained it several times before, it’s on my list to write. I know that writing a post can be a lot more detailed and complete than an on-the-fly explanation, which makes it better for them. Also, I know that writing the post once is quicker than explaining it in detail to 5 different people, so it’s actually a time saver for me.
Then the second way that “I’ve explained this before” helps me. When someone asks me how PLE works I used to give incomplete answers of which some were a disservice and others just didn’t go far enough for someone hoping to do this as their career. Now I point them to my post and I know they’re going to get a more complete (perhaps too complete) answer that was well thought out. I know what I gave them, I know what that level of knowledge would have done for me a couple years ago, and I know the next time I say “I’ve explained that before” on a topic I haven’t blogged about that it will make it onto my to-do list.
Steve, I think writing is also a good way to cement what you know and find gaps. Funny the things we take for granted until we really dig in.
You’re absolutely right. You start a quick post on something that should be in writing, and having that immortal copy out there means you want to do it right. Knowing that you start thinking “it could be done this way, too” and “they would need to know about this as well”.
The best thing I ever did to accelerate how fast I learn was to teach.
Nice post! It’s interesting, some posts seem to just flow. I’ll write a post in 5 minutes and it will be ready to go. Others take me weeks of research and half a dozen re-writes. Some I just can’t seem to get right.
Practice does seem to help though. I decided a bit over a year ago to force myself to post 2ce a week. And it’s certainly been a struggle at times. But after awhile I realized that some weeks I could get out 3 posts in a week. I still only post 2 a week and now I have a small backlog (3-4 posts) so if I need to take a week off all I have to do is schedule them and then catch up when I can.
Kenneth, I’m a big fan of scheduling posts and never getting behind. Makes me feel organized! I also try to schedule time to write and try to keep a list of topics to write about handy. 2 a week is a really decent pace. If you think about practice, think about 1 a month, 1 a week, 2 a week. You get there a lot faster at 2 a week. It’s not all just a matter of repetition, but some of it is. Thanks for commenting!
As a recovering Perfectionist, I always find it hard to strike a balance between “doing it right” and “doing it perfectly”. I have a lot of unfinished content and scripts that I haven’t published because I think they’re not “good enough” (i.e., perfect) yet.
The problem is I rarely have the time to go back and make them perfect when they’re probably good enough (hopefully) to be of use to someone. Maybe I need to take an agile approach by just getting it out there and make refinements along the way.
Jim, I can understand that, and I think it depends on where you publish. A front page article on SSC needs/demands more polish than a blog post does, same for scripts. I’m bad about not posting code I write, I should – need to think on why I don’t. Why not just trying letting go a little bit for a little while, see how it feels?
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