Favourite posts from 2014

Another year is winding down. And, as is my custom, I’m taking time off over the holiday season to rest, recharge, and plan.

To fill the gap over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting roundups of my favourite posts from the last year. I hope you enjoy reading (or re-reading) them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

See you in 2015!

A few links for the end of the week

Don’t obsess – do it!

Obsessing It’s far too easy to sweat the small details of what you’re writing.

It’s far too easy to overthink your writing.

It’s far too easy to worry about choosing the right word, the perfect word when hammering out your first draft.

It’s far too easy to focus on the title of what you’re working on, or whether the lede or introduction is where you want it to be.

When you obsess about those details, you’re not doing what you should be doing: writing. You’re letting your idea spiral out of control, and you’re wasting time and mental and emotional energy. Time and energy that you could be pouring directly, rather than obliquely, into your work.

Don’t obsess. Write.

Get what’s in your head down now. Quickly, before you lose the moment. Build a foundation. Lay down the basic structure of what you’re writing. Then, obsess about the details.

Go back and dissect the lede or introduction. Go back and come up with the best word or phrase. Go back and concentrate on the title.

And remember that the secret to good writing is editing.

Obsessing doesn’t make you a better writer. Obsessing doesn’t help you do the work. Writing does that. Nothing else.

Thoughts? As always, your comments are welcome.

Photo credit: Alexander Egorin

Tips for rapid writing

Typing quickly There comes a time in the career of every writer when you’re looking at the wrong end of a looming deadline and don’t have anything close to being ready to send out. Or you might be working at a corporate job (either as a full-timer or as a contractor) and you’re asked to write something before the end of the day or in next couple of hours.

What do you do when that happens? Some writers will panic. Others will be frozen with fear. Others will scramble to get something, anything written. Regardless of the quality.

There’s no need to do any of that. Unless what you’ve been ask to write is several thousand words long, it’s possible to quickly write something to that deadline. And that something will be of good quality.

Curious? Then read on for some tips that can help you write quickly.


A few links for the end of the week

What does blogging do for you?

blogI can’t count how many times I’ve been asked that over the years. From people who don’t write, and eve n from a few writers.

They consistently bring up two points:

  • Why blog when you’re not making money from it?
  • Why not spend time doing paid work?

Both points are somewhat thought provoking. But they miss the mark. By a wide margin.

It’s true that I don’t make any money directly from this blog. That’s not the point, and never was. So what does blogging do for me?

Blogging is an opportunity for me to teach. To share what I know, both with experienced writers and writers who are just starting out. Not everything I post in this space appeals to everyone, but there are (and have been) a number of folks who’ve found it useful.

Blogging offers me a chance to learn. It gives me the opportunity and excuse to explore other forms of writing, to check out various tools and services for writers and share them with a wider audience.

Blogging lets me write about topics that I normally wouldn’t at a corporate gig or for a paying publication.

Blogging is a chance for me to experiment. I can write as long or as short as I want to, using any structure that I want. Many of those experiments lead nowhere, but they’re good for stretching my writing muscles.

My blogs are a portfolio demonstrating my knowledge and (for lack of a better word) expertise. Combined with my list of published writing, my blog represents a substantial body of work.

Finally, to a small degree, my blogs are a tool to promote my writing and technology coaching services, along with my ebooks. Yes, a little self promotion never hurts …

What does blogging do for you? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Writing is writing, no matter how you do it

Typing a draft The other day, I was mulling all I’ve seen and done in the 47 or so years I’ve been on this planet. And I came to the conclusion that I’ve seen a lot of history. Geopolitical changes, social upheavals, and the advancement of technology.

Being someone who works with, and writes about, technology I’m intrigued by the latter. While I’m not longer a tool fetishist, it’s still interesting to reflect on how the way in which we write, and in which I write, has developed and changed over the last few decades.

I went from writing by hand to using a simple Smith Corona electric typewriter. From there, I graduated to another Smith Corona electric (somehow having killed the first one), to SpeedScript on a VIC-20 computer to using a dedicated word processor. Eventually, I went all digital — various portable computers, desktops, and laptops with a tablet or two tossed in for good measure.

But there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years: the tool is not important. Tools don’t make you a better writer. They never have. They can make you a more efficient writer. But when it comes down to doing the actual work, it’s your brain. Your imagination. Your talent and skill that do the heavy lifting. No software, no device is going to do that for you.

No matter what you use to do the job, when you boil it down to the essentials writing is writing, no matter how you do it. Whether you’re writing by hand, using a typewriter or a computer or a smartphone, the act of writing is the same. You plan, you organize, you write a draft, you edit and rewrite, and finalize your work.

No matter what tools or techniques people are touting this week, no matter what you’re putting on the page, what’s important is the writing. Not the tool.

Focus on that and you’ll improve and grow as a writer.

Thoughts? As always, your comments are welcome.

A few links for the end of the week