It’s hard to work up the mental energy to write a blog entry. Writing is like exercising, eating well, or going to the dentist for a root canal: you don’t want to do it, it’s a pain in the butt, you’d prefer to put it off, but it’s good for you.
Here are four things you can do to be a better writer:
1. Make the time. This is the hardest step: to schedule time in your day, plunk yourself in front of a computer and start typing. We all have busy lives; the trick is to start small and build yourself up.
Start with one five minute session a day. Bang away randomly at the keyboard. Get used to the feeling of writing. Then, when you’re ready, increase it to ten minutes a day, then fifteen, and on on. You’ll reach a point where you’re mental flow is so strong that time vanishes, and hours pass like minutes. If you can write one to two hours a week, that will be quite a lot writing over the months and years.
2. Write about what you know and like. For our programme, we have to blog about what we’re learning, but we’re learning a great deal. Write about the specific tools, subjects, and projects that you found interesting or challenging. Everyone has different interests and tastes. Write about your particular “fetishes”.
3. Make connections. I enjoy seeing the connections between very different things, for example, between philosophy and technology.
We’re all interested in webdev (website development), or we wouldn’t be in the programme, but what are your other interests or hobbies? How can you connect these with webdev? Even the act of trying to find a connection will get your mind in the creative zone.
For example, if you’re into politics, write about what makes an effective political website. If art is your thing, write about how to achieve an artistic balance in your design. If you like technology (and who doesn’t?), write about how technology is influencing webdev and vice versa. The combinations are limitless.
4. Know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Many people hesitate to start writing because they don’t want to create anything that is less than perfect. The reality is that perfection exists (at most) in two subjects: philosophy and mathematics. To wait until something is perfect is to wait forever.
Yes, you should schedule time to review and edit your work, but at some point, the writing has to stop, and you’ve just got to take a deep breath and click that Publish button. Remember that any article that is written is infinitely better than a superior article that is never written.
Here’s hoping that you have “The Write Stuff”.