Writing has been my new job, at least part-time, since I joined Airbyte. So how to get better, and what about writing makes it so hard?
Approaches to how I write are in my Second Brain. I will write Fleeting Notes, collect Literature Notes mostly Readwise synced directly into Obsidian, write them out as Permanent Notes, and tag them as
#publish to move them to my public brain.
I was having this all accessible in one place, connecting and Linking Your Thinking (LYT) notes and ideas with each other, sparking many new ideas and inspirations I didn’t have before.
I like the quote from Writing Handbook by Julian Shapiro:
Writing is one of the most radical things you can do without money. Skilled writers change the world from their couches.
Writing is “scalable teaching”:
“Writing is the most scalable professional networking activity - stay home, don’t go to events/conferences, and just put ideas down.”
I always need to remind myself:
Writing is hard! It’s easy to start, hard to finish. You get stuck, you have a blockage, your creativity is low, you get interrupted, and you lose confidence in your writing. Reminding myself that the first 10 minutes are the hardest and envisioning the end product keeps me motivated.
- A story of now
- A story of us
- A story of self
This is what brought me to writing. To release my thoughts (brain dump), make my brain accessible for more, for being creative. I like to brainstorm, change, delete, add, research, and do the thinking while writing. When writing on a computer, I can do it almost at the speed of my thinking; I do not lose thoughts as I would when writing on paper (Journaling). I can stop at any given time and come back, as all the thinking is written down. As well, I love the editing part. Making it better, finding correlations, and things I wouldn’t have expected before.
But before getting into the editing phase, during the initial phase, when drafting or coming up with the content itself, I try to get into distraction-free Flow. Long chunks of uninterrupted time, Cal Newport talks about Deep Work in his book.
Usually, editing is when I learn the most, but at the same time, it’s also the most challenging step. I will get into a Writers Block and want to start a new thing instead. But by switching between Creativity vs Productivity or just going into nature with my thoughts and nothing else, usually one of them helps. Or if not, I leave it for a couple of days, weeks, months, and come back when another time. Keeping the Ultradian Rhythm in mind also helps overcome the initial hardest ten minutes.
When I let the writing stay for a while, that typically leads to better quality because when I come back, I have new insight and might delete or change existing thoughts. The longer the wait, the more insightful that note will get. Therefore I like keeping it slow. In the end, the reader will not mind if you spend one day or three months on an article; he appreciates it if the reader flow is good and he can learn. At least that is my goal as a writer, to give some learnings to the readers.
Writing doesn’t always need to be about an article. You can just put some thought, Journaling, or something you learned or find interesting, into a note. Save it for later. You mostly don’t need the thing you just knew at that moment. Something you find interesting today is doubtful to be of value right now. But maybe in two years from now.
Other things I’m pondering are Writing a good intro, How to Write (Titles, Heading, Bolding, etc.), Long vs Short Form Posts, Writing One Sentence Per Line Derek Sivers, Writing- Copy Work, How to Write Well, Learn in Public, or 1000 True Fans. As well as having found my writing voice was important. In short, I need to write from experience and cannot create a free story—more in My Writing Process and My Writing Voice.
On the other hand, as I write more, I also want to learn more and get better at it. That’s why one of my ⚽️ My Three to Five Year Vision is just that.
I started a long time ago with a blog back in 2005, and it was probably one of the best decisions for my writing portfolio or career. Besides loving to design and create websites for a long, it’s also felt that I could keep my content over time. Imagine only lately with platforms such as Medium and Substack; they come and go. Simon Willson says the same in his Tweets (Tweets From Simon Willison):
Start a blog! The best time to start one was twenty years ago. The second best time is today.