On Writing

I want to be a writer.

This is a thought still not fully formed, but is a constant lost goal.

Writing is something many people are bad at. It’s a skill I know I should have and one that I always want to get better at, but rarely do. I rarely do because there hasn’t been an actual goal associated with it. Just, get better.

Currently, I go through writing spurts. I will write a lot in one week and nothing for months. Often what I write is short. Writing more for getting ideas out of my head than expressing them to someone else (which is very helpful in it’s own way). There are lots of examples of this on my blog. Most posts are 2-3 paragraphs and consists more of ideas than complete thoughts.

Writing is a necessary skill that I have had on the back burner for far too long.

Why Writing

There are a few reasons that writing is a constant goal of mine.

It’s out of my comfort zone and something I’m not good at. Anytime I can leave my usual skill set and try something new is usually a good thing. You learn a new skill which causes a new way of thinking.

“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.” Robert Allen

The minimalist in me really likes the idea of sitting at a desk with just an iPad and a keyboard and typing. Just writing what comes to mind.

I’m not naive. I understand a lot more goes into it than that, but it can also be as simple as that. Just sit, and write.

Writing is a big shift from how I work now. I code, I manage projects, and I build systems. I don’t have to do in depth documentation or explanation for a lot of what I do, I just need to deliver something that works.

Writing is a way to fully understand my own ideas and make my current work better. I see it as a bonus to what I already do.

“Writing crystallizes ideas in ways thinking on its own will never accomplish.” Morgan Housel

And as Warren Buffett put it;

Some of the things I think I think, I find don’t make any sense when I start trying to write them down. You ought to be able to explain why you’re taking the job you’re taking, why you’re making the investment you’re making, or whatever it may be. And if it can’t stand applying pencil to paper, you’d better think it through some more.

I should note that I want to be a writer as a necessary skill. I don’t want it to be my career. I don’t have an illusion (or goal) of writing an amazing novel over the next year and completely changing careers. I enjoy what I do now, but understand that writing will help me do it better.

What I’m Doing About It

Writing is a skill just like anything else. A skill that requires practice to get better. Want to get better at soccer? Play soccer. Want to get better at graphic design? Open an app and start designing. Want to become a better writer? Write. It’s simple, but takes a commitment and a persistence.

So, I decided to put some actionable steps and analytics in place to make myself get better.

It started with quantity and habit. I needed to develop a habit of writing and get over how daunting a blank page seemed. I chose a month span and wrote every weekday. Every weekday I had to publish something.

This idea was inspired by, and mostly copied from, Seth Godin.

It could be a short blog posts, a long opinion piece, or a random post about my new favorite YouTube video. It just had to be something and it had to be every weekday. It usually took my 10-20 minutes. I used the app Coach.me to help keep track.

A few changes happened over the month.

Like anything you do repetitively, it became easier. I could get a couple paragraphs done pretty quickly. I even had to edit it less. I started writing more in full sentences than my usual short hand and bullet points.

I can’t speak much to the quality of what I was writing, but it was much easier for me to take a random idea in my head, and turn it into something on paper (so to speak).

I also developed the habit. Opening a blank document and writing wasn’t daunting. It was just habit. I didn’t overthink what I was doing. I didn’t waste lots of time editing and rethinking. Hitting that publish button was part of the habit.

I have many drafts and half finished writings that have built up of over the years. Developing the habit to publish everyday was just as important as writing everyday.

I am now building quantity and habit, next comes quality and form. This hopefully comes with writing longer pieces. Writing pieces that have complete thoughts, that can show a complete idea.

It requires me to think more about what I am writing, and gives me more of a challenge with editing.

My goal is to write a longer form piece regularly. From all the short posts I’ve written, I have a lot of ideas I can expand on and complete. This post is the first of longer form pieces.

If you wish to follow along, most of what I write (if not everything) will be on swoicik.com. If you have any tips or suggestions, you can also start a conversation on Twitter.

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