Writing a blog turns out to be hard.
This blog has been around since 2007, but at most, I wrote something three or four times a year. In late 2014 I committed to one post a week, and did a pretty good job of keeping to that. The way I did it was to commit to writing 100 words a day. That’s not a lot, but it turns out to be enough. And really, 100 is a minimum, some days it’s a slog to get there, but often enough I get on a roll and go beyond than.
The idea behind the commitment is that you keep track of your streaks. If you’ve done something for 10 days, 20 days, 100 days in a row, it becomes hard to say “Screw it, I’ll do it tomorrow”. According to the Internet (so it must be true), this is the secret of Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity. He commits to write every day. Everyday he does, he puts a big red X on a calendar. After a while, it becomes painful to miss a day and break up that streak of red Xs.
I’ve used the Habit List iPhone app to track both my writing and my posting commitments. It’s a simple premise, you set up a list of habits you want to complete on a regular basis, and you check them off as you do them. The app tracks your current completion streak and your all time record. It can also pop up a daily reminder.
I like Habit List, but there are any number of app options for iOS and Android. There are even some cute ones that gamify the process by using an RPG style of “leveling up”.
And, of course, you can always use pen and paper or a giant chart on the wall.
The approach works pretty well, until it doesn’t. Breaking a streak is unpleasant, but once it’s broken, it becomes easy to ignore. That’s part of what happen.
The other part was that a I wrote myself into a corner. I tried something ambitious, a multi-part series on Client SSL Certs. It wasn’t a bad idea per se, the narrative I thought would develop instead fizzled out.
So, writing is hard. Turns out it’s also fun. I enjoy it. I hope I’m providing a useful service, but at the same time, I’m doing it for me. Digging in to a topic, even one you well, sharpens your understanding of it. Trying to explain something is a process of paring down your knowledge to the clear, understandable facts.
Beyond that, I believe that the process of writing helps organize you thoughts. There’s great advice in Getting Real
If you are trying to decide between a few people to fill a position, always hire the better writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a designer, programmer, marketer, salesperson, or whatever, the writing skills will pay off. Effective, concise writing and editing leads to effective, concise code, design, emails, instant messages, and more.
That’s because being a good writer is about more than words. Good writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit. They think clearly. And those are the qualities you need.
So, here I am reboot booting the process. I’m not sure I’ll finish the Client SSL Certs series, the more important thing is to get writing and again.
Watch this space.