Can you learn something new just by writing?
In case you haven't been aware, I did a writing challenge last week in which I had to write a new post every day for 5 days straight.
I posted about it on Twitter and in other online communities to have that "public accountability" and not just do things on my own.
In this post, I'll share the most important lessons I got while taking that challenge (spoiler alert: I actually completed the 5 days of writing, just so you know 😜)
With that said... Let's get on with those!
Giving yourself constraints works unexpectedly well
I've come to the conclusion that most of our procrastination comes mainly from one thing. That is, having too much flexibility when it comes to writing and publishing posts.
Not having a concrete time to regularly publish can lead to things like:
- Putting lots of extra work into an article.
- Spending too much time editing here and there.
- Letting perfectionism creep in.
- Starting to doubt if the original idea was good.
- Getting overly critical about how the topic was approached, the images or code examples, and several other details.
This can happen when we are the only ones sitting on the idea for prolonged periods of time.
In my case, having a few hours each day to write (like 2 or 3), forced me to cut out all that could be fluff. Trying to focus and develop more the idea I had for the post.
But I'm not saying that you should have really tight deadlines or do other things that can put extra pressure on you.
The idea is to have a more structured process for writing, reviewing, and publishing that doesn't allow you to get too complacent.
See what works best for you in this case. Calibrate that publishing routine to avoid falling into extremes. Find what's doable but still challenging to help keep up your edge.
Doing experiments or challenges help "writing outside the box"
This is especially true if you haven't found topics you're totally comfortable about and you dabble into different ideas in all your posts.
You may already be aware of the concept of "thinking outside the box". In this case, it's not only thinking but also writing about those things that come to mind.
The time constraint doesn't allow for the traditional things we would do to develop ideas. Like finding other resources out there and see what's missing or doing some research on the topic before providing our take on it.
Still, experimenting with these types of challenges can spark several different ideas. Also, it can help coming up with ways to go about topics that you already know and feel confident about.
In my case, I found topics that I enjoy writing about and come more easily to me due to my background and previous knowledge.
For this, change up your writing workflow. Push yourself to do things you would normally never do. Do things once in a while that stretch your comfort zone and makes you try other alternatives.
Posts work better when focused on a central idea
For many people, I think is the case that they try to tackle too many topics at once.
They either end up with a weird disjointed post or end up in "writer's block". This is because there a ton of ways they could go about writing what they have in their minds.
Making the post about just one main idea not only helps to make a better outline. It also helps with the scope of the whole thing. In some cases, getting the outline done helps to better 'see' the finished product.
The goal then becomes presenting the idea.
Saying why it's important or why should people care about it.
Developing the whole point you're trying to make.
And lastly, giving some conclusion or takeaways for the readers that finish the post.
You can do some sort of 'race to the end' exercise.
Writing down all the content first and then, with a different state of mind, do the editing part and add the extra features like images, gifs, emojis, and such.
Writing is best done at the edges of the day
By this, I mean not in the middle of the day (although for many professional writers they do that work after lunch). But here we're mostly devs and people working in tech so writing is not our main thing.
With that in mind, put your writing time either at the beginning of the day or at the end of it.
I know most of the advice out there is along the lines of "do the most important thing first time in the day".
Thing is, not everyone is a "morning person". I know several people who do their important stuff at night. After everyone else is asleep and they have that uninterrupted, noiseless time for themselves.
I find it much easier to wake up early and do the writing as the last thing in my morning routine before starting the workday.
In your case, it might be different so choose what can work better in the long run.
Whether you're an "early bird' or a "night owl', do your writing when you have more time and are able to focus more on the task.
That will allow you to be more consistent and at the same time produce better work.
Public accountability really does work when wanting to get something done
This has been talked about a lot already but it's worth repeating again.
When all else fails and you can't seem to get 'motivated', put yourself out there. Set your intention, your stakes, and have someone to keep you accountable.
If it's not a friend or a group of friends then use the internet. Use Twitter or other online communities to help you stay on top of your game.
Some people would do things more for others than for themselves. Others will simply find the fear of looking like a fool in public more motivating than anything else.
Not only accountability is useful in helping you follow through with your goal. It can also bring you people with similar ideas, intentions, and goals.
In my case, someone commented on the first tweet I made talking about the challenge. Someone I have no previous contact with. That person offered me to be a part of a group where others are "writing daily in small chunks towards their goals".
So I got the accountability to keep up with the challenge and an opportunity to be part of a group of people doing things similar to what I was going to do.
Talk about a win-win scenario.
With these short lessons, I think you can have a better experience while going about your writing. Whether that's talking about front-end, back-end, DevOps, UX, JS, Python, or anything else.
That writing can be as short or long as you like, provided that you're giving value to people in some way and not just turning posts into personal rants about different topics.
(That's an extra lesson there for ya 😜)
So, there you have it. Those are some of the lessons I got by shaking things up, having an added pressure, going against the convention for a bit, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone for a moment.
Thanks for reading so far. I hope you got something out of this that will help you in your own writing journey.
If you have something else to add, I'm open to know about it. Let's talk 'bout it on Twitter.
Until next time...