100 Posts

Posted on December 6, 2020
Tags: writing blogging habits 100DaysToOffload

Tim Lavoie

Writing: A useful habit, that everyone should have

Writing is one of those things that I believe many people appreciate, both in general and in the workplace. For instance, my career has been largely focused on technical, computer-based tasks. When it comes to making a point however, it is likely to fall to what some call “soft skills” to make it stick. That is, it’s not necessarily what I see as some elegant insight into software that makes a difference, but how it is communicated.

I’ve known this for ages, and even mulled upon it on occasion when reading the likes of Paul Graham or Steve Yegge. That is, these are people who have things to say that resonate with me, but it’s their writing that brings it to life and makes it interesting.

While Yegge is known for his long posts about mostly technical things, Graham is prone to musing about a variety of topics, some of which he may have metaphorical thoughts, rather than direct experience in. In my humble opinion, that’s fine; you can certainly learn from aspects of other fields, and use those lessons to make whatever you actually do somehow better.

One of Graham’s posts, titled “Writing, Briefly” makes what I have long considered to be excellent points. To start though, I think he writes elsewhere about the importance of writing at all, e.g., that it should be done often first, and well later. Since I don’t have a link for that off-hand, I may be mis-remembering, but I like the idea nonetheless. In any case, read his essay above too, because it’s full of good points on writing.

On that note, I read a blog post from Kev Quirk the other day that made me think about this sort of thing again. I’ll paraphrase some more, on the theory that digesting and emitting something might help us both understand.

  • The idea is that doing it often is more important than pretty much anything else. Even if it’s short, full of errors, and incomplete, it’s better than not having done it at all.
  • Try to do 100 posts to a personal blog, in a year, and include the hashtag #100DaysToOffload to help support the idea and provide cross-links with others working on this. After all, the idea is not just to improve my writing, but to encourage others to think and express themselves well and often also.
  • Graham’s post above recommends bouncing your writing off others, while Quirk’s is that you should involve others in your quest to do this often, and encourage them to do the same. In other words, we’re most likely to follow through if we tell others that we’re trying to accomplish something, while Graham suggests that we use others as sounding boards to refine and revise that writing. Both are great, and complimentary concepts.

I’ll note up-front that while I have known for ages that I should do this more, I have not. Even with a wealth of tech, and tools, and things to talk about, it’s been over a year.

I think what tends to happen is that I keep my regular chat to Twitter, and bit of Mastodon, while only making a bit more of an effort if I really have a bee in my bonnet about something. By attempting to make this a habit, I can keep my regular snark, while perhaps being a bit more thoughtful here, and use one to direct eyeballs to the other.

Really, it’s twenty-fucking-twenty, there is no shortage of things to discuss. There will be for 2021 too, as the world will not have its problems solved in the next three weeks.

A couple pithy bits of encouragement:

As for the task of flogging this on others, I’ll do that via Twitter and Mastodon for now, and update this to reflect some of those post threads once they exist.

Cheers, and happy writing!

Update(s):

  • Twitter post
  • Oh, I should note this is intended to be post #1 of (at least) 100 of #100DaysToOffload.

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