✍️ Reflexions on writing - Doing the writing

β€” 5 minute read

So you have decided to write an article. Good! Below are my recommendations to make the intention become a reality and, even beyond, allow you to become a better writer with each passing day.

Write. Write. Write. permalink

Good news is that, as with many other activities, the more you write, the easier it becomes. Hence, there is no better activity to become a proficient writer than to write. For which, the best recommendation I can give you is to have your own blog and post constantly.

When I say blog, I mean your own blog site, under your own domain, and with a style that suits your personality. Yes, you can use Facebook, but Arrggh! It's so ugly and characterless! (As a side note, I don't use Facebook, and if somebody asks me to read their content on Facebook, they have already lost face with me.) Yes, you can use Twitter, but hopefully your write-up can be extensive and will need more than 280 characters. (And they are not mutually exclusive: the best deal is to publish your content on your own blog, and promote it through Twitter.) Yes, you can use Medium, but why would you freely give your content away to some platform to profit from it and be bound by their rules, when you can set-up your own WordPress site in minutes and own your own data?

Nothing really beats your own blog. There you set-up your own rules. You can write about anything you want, and with no constraints as how short or long it must be. You can publish an article today, update it in 1 week, pin it to the top again in 1 year. And if the article starts becoming serious enough, then you can decide to upgrade it even more and submit it to a respectable online magazine. If you need more reasons to write on your own site, here are many writers expressing why they do it.

Read (and Learn From) Other Writers permalink

As much as you need to write, you also need to read. In the realms of literature, good writers are known to be avid readers; that's how they incorporate the tools that makes their prose become great, even if it happens subliminally. Writing about tech is no different: reading articles from other writers will greatly help you gain better ways of expressing yourself.

Once again, when I say read, I don't mean to read tweets (even though there is certainly an art to tweeting, and writing a good tweet can be more difficult than a good long post), but to read articles on tech sites and visiting other writers' personal blogs. For instance, I read Smashing Magazine daily, and some of my favourite blogs are those by Jeremy Keith (from whom I learn how to build the foundations of a website), Tim Kadlec (from whom I learn about performance) and Jake Archibald (from whom I learn about API design and service workers, and he makes me laugh). And I follow other writers on and off as my interest on their topics (CSS, typography, accessibility, serverless, and others) increases and wanes.

Ask the Experts permalink

The wonderful thing about the internet is that the person who created the technology that you are describing, or wrote a tutorial on how to use it, or has spent countless hours contributing to the open source project, is just one email or direct message away from you. So don't be shy! If you need help, ask for it, and you may receive the assistance that you need. Of course that depends on each expert; some of them are humble and welcoming, some others make it very difficult to be contacted and don't reply, but there is no harm in trying.

In my case, I got stuck when writing my Smashing guide on using Composer with WordPress, and my article suffered as a consequence. So I contacted Andrey β€œRarst” Savchenko, who authored the documentation I was following, and asked him to review the article. Within two hours he told me what I had done wrong, and I could fix my article satisfactorily.

Disconnect permalink

Some of the best ideas to write about will not come to your head while you're stuck looking at your phone, browsing that endless Twitter feed. On the opposite, they will come when you completely disconnect, when your brain is not engaged on any activity. By disconnecting you can be yourself, and you can let your creativity flourish. If you are constantly consuming information on social media, your thoughts are being constantly shaped by what you are reading, and you become an extension of the system. It is only by truly spending time on your own and away from the screen, that your thoughts can become free and unrestrained, not being muddled with what everyone else is thinking or saying.

Hence, as superfluous as it may appear, taking breaks is an incredibly important task to get right. It is indeed so important, that you should slot time in your calendar to disconnect. In my case, some of my brightest insights came to me while hiking in the park (which I do without carrying my mobile phone on me) and swimming, and I try as much as possible to do at least one of these two activities on a daily basis.