As a reader of technical blogs, I see value in all manner of posts. The encyclopedic posts, with hours of research and experimentation behind them are of course fantastic. Or those posts with those beautiful new pearls of ideas, crystallizing years of experience into a phrase upon which businesses can be formed.
All of these are a joy to read and greatly enhance the value of the internet. So how does one start writing things of such value?
My answer: Don’t. I don’t expect to start writing brilliant posts of great value right off the bat. I expect to write shallow, hacky posts for a long time before anything of worth comes out of these fingers. Like a freshman in art school, I have a lot of terrible drawings to make before I’ll put out something worth looking at.
My approach is very much like that of a novice artist:
1. Have an audience.
I plan to write as if I am speaking to a good friend of mine. He is patient, intelligent and analytical. He is familiar with the domains of which I write, but isn't fully immersed in it. Imagining my audience this way should help me write clearly, provide enough examples, and assume (however incorrectly) that what I have to write about is somewhat novel.
2. Keep lists.
I'm keeping a backlog of outlines or ideas. Not only is this a good buffer of things to write when ideas dry up, the act of writing at all fosters thought in general, hopefully leading to those coveted a-ha moments in the shower. Not to mention the simple pride of having my own curated menagery, a stable of ideas that have excited me in the past and may excite me again.
3. Have a rhythm
This is perhaps the most common advice given to writers, and there's no reason not to include it here. I plan to write one post a week. It's a modest goal, but should be attainable in the face of this complex and varied life we all live.
This is my bootstrap list, and yes, in order to improve, feedback will become crucial to improving. That will be the subject of another post.