Creating a habit: Writing

What do I mean by Writing?

First things first, by writing I don’t mean to write a book or become proficient in any specific language. Although that can also be the by-product of writing.

In this blog context, by writing, I mean putting down your thoughts on paper in an organized manner. It does not need to be well versed, but simple enough to be understood either by you or your audience.

Writing is one of the skills which has transformed me as a professional.

And I will be honest with you, it’s not that easy and takes huge time and effort.

In my opinion, writing will be one of the most required and demanded skills in upcoming years.

So here in this blog, I will be sharing some of my ideas on why writing is important and how you can make it into a habit.

So let’s get started.

Why is writing important?

1. Clear thinking

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Our thoughts are random and not organized. So putting them on physical or digital paper will help us to think clearly.

It’s a cycle, if we write better we think better, and if we think better we write better.

In this era of information overload, it’s hard to think clearly. We consume a lot and think little.

Clear thinking will improve your analytical and decision-making skills.

2. Removing clutter from your head

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Writing down our thoughts on paper also helps remove unnecessary things from our heads.

Doing it regularly magically starts to improve the way you think over time. We start to observe that some of our thoughts are just cluttered and not worthy of our time.

For example, The first draft of this blog was too long. I need to keep refining it by removing unnecessary things.

Most of the time the first draft is 50% cluttered.

3. Organize thoughts

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Once we have everything on paper. It’s time to organize your thoughts.

Organized thoughts help when we are writing for an audience. Because now we have to structure and organize our writing in a way that other people can consume it easily.

4. Choice of words

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One of the ways to improve our vocabulary is by reading more books and blogs. However, I understood the true meaning of words when I started using them in my writing.

Initially, I was frustrated with the fact that we have so many words to describe the same thing. Why can’t we just use one word? So here’s the thing…

Words are contextual. They acquire meaning by the way they are used.

So by writing, we will understand which word to use where and in what context. Be cautious, this won’t work all the time, because people being people they interpret things differently all the time.
Also, If you are a programmer these will help you to name your class and function better. 😂

5. Async Communication: Remote Work.

After the pandemic, we have opened a new pandora box of remote work. The number of job openings for remote work is growing like a wildfire.

And one of the important skills required to be a remote worker is to have async communication. i.e Most things do not happen in real-time. The majority of the time will be spent on communicating in the form of writing.

So if you want to improve yourself as a remote worker. Focus on improving your writing.

There are tons of blogs out there on how to do this effectively. Checkout the resources section.

6. Good for your health

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Writing is also a form of meditation.

Ancient people were doing it for so many years in the form of writing books, poems, and stories. This helps them to clear their mind. Just like meditation.

Writing also helps people to have Peace of Mind. Obviously, if we are writing about controversial issues then it won’t be that Peaceful 😃.

From my personal experience, this holds true. Once I publish my idea as a blog post then it no longer stays in my head.

How to create a habit?

1. Writing is hard

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The hardest part about writing is just sitting on a chair and doing the work. Most people procrastinate on writing because they don’t get a clear sentence on their first attempt. It takes a lot of iterations and edits.

And sometimes we are so busy thinking of our awesome responsibility to finish the writing that we can’t even start.

If you are having a hard time focusing on writing, I highly recommend the book War of Art.

2. The 300 seconds rule

One of the best productivity tips that worked for me is to get past the first 300 seconds.

There is no other way. Just sit and write. Consistency is key here.

3. Blogging

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The most effective way to improve writing is to blog regularly. This also gives us a teaching opportunity and reflection on how well we can explain a concept.

If you don’t know what to blog then think about something which you solved recently or learned something new.

Doing blogging over a period of time will help us to reflect on our previous blogs to see the mistakes, improvements and directly apply those learning to new pieces.

4. Book or Product review

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If you are not into blogging then the second-best way to improve writing is to write short reviews.

If you are a reader then try to summarize a book or just write short reviews for the product you used recently.

5. Explain by typing

I don’t like voice messages for a few reasons. One, it’s hard to know the chat context from a glance.

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and it’s not searchable (Maybe soon we will be able to search through audios effectively ).

So try to explain by typing. It will also help in your async communication remote job.

Writing Process

Following is the writing process that I’ve learned from various people, books, podcasts, and videos. It’s not perfect. I keep iterating all the time.

1. Write Outline first

Put the headlines first on blank paper. It does not have to be perfect but just good enough to give an idea of what you want to write.

Sometimes I also try to divide the headlines into sub-headlines and keep doing it until I don’t have any further way to break them down.

Headlines and subheadlines also help us to give the initial structure of our article which can be edited later if needed.

2. Dump your thoughts

This is my favorite part. Just write whatever comes to your mind about the headline. This is where we detail out the headlines.

This part will have a lot of spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and sentences that are not formed correctly, and that’s ok because at this point it doesn’t have to look clean yet.

Don’t worry if it’s getting too big. Remember, this is your first draft and most of the first draft is terrible and can be reduced to 50%.

The goal here is to put your thoughts on paper, we organize them in the editing phase.

3. Editing: The unsung hero

One of the underrated and misunderstood things about writing is Editing.

Initially, I wanted to make every sentence perfect in my head before I wrote it down.

The problem is, we think too much about getting sentences right in the first attempt which most of the time does not happen.

Also, a lot of content is thrown out in the editing process.

We keep editing until it makes sense for us or others to read. Because of this, we spent a lot of time in this phase. And this is the phase where most people quit.

4. Get reviewed

After editing, get it reviewed by someone. You will be surprised to know how other people understand your writing or misinterpret it.

Also, be open to criticism. This is a sign that you are making progress.

After getting the feedback, go back to the editing phase to make things clear.

And thanks to Swapnil Agarwal and Nicolaas Spijker for proofreading.

5. Publish it

Put your work out there. That’s where the real learning comes from. The audience out there will give you the real feedback.

Don’t worry if very few people read it. Putting something out there in public in itself is a big achievement and a way to grow.

Tips of writing

  1. Edit it as much as you can until you are satisfied with it.
  2. Use grammar and spelling check tools like Grammarly
  3. Remove filler words. Especially don’t use active/passive in the same sentence.
  4. Add necessary space in paragraphs. People scan pages first. So if you have big paragraphs, most people won’t read them.
  5. Try to use small paragraphs and if any sentence makes a different point then add necessary space
  6. Reading more books is the fastest way to learn new words and learn from other people’s writing.
  7. You can also use or reference other people’s material: Just give them a credit.
  8. Keep learning. Even after knowing all this. I make mistakes all the time. Even in this blog, you can find grammar and typos. And it’s fine until I learn to fix it and improve it.

Conclusion

Write, Dump, Edit, and Publish. Clear your thoughts, record your learning, reach out to people for review, get feedback from readers and keep writing.

Treat writing as an investment. You won’t see returns right away, but once we put it out in public it will compound over a period of time and will pay off.

Writing publically will put your name out there and do marketing for you.

Three years of writing on the Internet has done more for my career than four years of college education did.


Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments or you can reach me on Twitter or Email me.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Resources

  1. https://blog.rock.so/communicating-effectively-with-your-remote-team-dos-donts/
  2. https://www.nityesh.com/writing-for-programmers/
  3. https://stackoverflow.blog/2021/08/09/how-writing-can-advance-your-career-as-a-developer/

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