Bartek Witczak | Always be learning

I’m (re)starting (again) - what are my principles?

For the last year, I made a habit of journaling and taking notes from books. I moved to reading on the iPad. It allows me to take notes immediately while I’m reading. I observe that I remind similar stuff from different books, articles, and/or talks. That’s amazing and I want more of that.

Last week I’ve found an interesting blog - Pragmatic engineer. Going through the last articles, I’ve come across How I motivate myself to write. I was already thinking about blogging regularly, so I took a look. That was exactly what I needed. I’m coming back to writing and this time I’m going to succeed. Now I have a clear goal. I no longer want to impress anyone. My objective is to clarify thinking.

I’ve started with setting up principles & thinking about why I want to blog.

Principles

Why do I want to write?

There are 2 reasons:

Writing is thinking - tidy my thoughts

If I have an idea, I want to be clear. I want to think about different aspects. When I have to write it down, I need to think about the topic deeply.

I really like this analogy by David Perell:

Writing is like weightlifting for the brain. & Re-writing is re-thinking. It’s the single best way to sharpen your ideas.

Highlighting paragraphs in the books or rewriting quotes into the notebook is not enough. By rephrasing paragraphs, summarising chapters in my own words, I remember more. Writing down thoughts requires much more thought process & that’s exactly what I want.

The act of writing, forces the author to think through all the details and steps required to share the lesson.

- Steven Sinofsky

And few more resources about writing:

Why writing is an important skill?

Most communication is written ( even for engineers ):

When building a product, there are a lot of decisions to be made. By far the best meeting I had were those when someone had to prepare a short note / a memo or even a diagram.

Jeff Bezos introduced the no PowerPoint rule at Amazon. Instead of creating a presentation, people are “encouraged” to prepare a 4-page memo. At the beginning of the meeting, everyone is supposed to read the document. That way, everyone is on the same page and discussion can start. It seems counterintuitive, especially for startups. Preparing a written document takes much more time than preparing a bullet-point presentation.

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

- Blaise Pascal

To prepare a 4-page memo, one needs to write clearly. To write clearly, you need to write. Writing is a skill like any other. To put it simply, the more you write, the better you are. The easiest way to practice writing is by starting a blog.

How?

I no longer look for “the best advice” for how to start writing. I’ve already started blogging 2 times & failed. I’ve read numerous articles about writing, blogging & building a personal brand. Definitely, there are great pieces of advice This book will teach you to write better e.g.:

But there is one thing missing… I’m not writing. I’m reading about writing. As far as I know, I’m not the only one who wants to prepare first. But I’m lost in finding the best way to write. Perfectionism is killing me.

Thus I (re)start (again) with the single rule in mind.

Pick a schedule and stick to it.

Jeff Atwood has a great post about that:

When people ask me for advice on blogging, I always respond with yet another form of the same advice: pick a schedule you can live with, and stick to it. Until you do that, none of the other advice I could give you will matter. I don’t care if you suck at writing . I don’t care if nobody reads your blog . I don’t care if you have nothing interesting to say . If you can demonstrate a willingness to write, and a desire to keep continually improving your writing, you will eventually be successful.

For now, I go with an article every two weeks. I’ll stick to it for the next 3 months. 3 months is roughly 12 weeks and 12 weeks is my way of planning ( take a look at this book ). I find it valuable to experiment with habits/ideas/activities for 3 months. If it works for 3 months, then the “100 pieces” rule is my next goal ( like 100 podcast episodes / 100 blog posts / 100 YouTube videos )

Who am I writing to?

Building product, marketing, or writing, whatever you choose, one of the first steps is ” PICK A PERSONA ”. But if I need to pick one, I pick myself. I won’t be disappointed by the topic. I find it interesting already. If no one else wants to read, the target audience is always present. And probably for the first year, almost nobody will read that anyway. That’s a safe choice.

But why do I want to write in public? Why don’t I just create personal notes?

Writing in public is like inviting guests to your house for dinner. You have to clean and double-check everything. Just like when you cook a meal for your guests, you try harder when others are watching and your reputation is at stake.

- David Perell

I guess I’ve got all the pieces. The only one missing is writing regularly. So let’s get it started.

#principles #writing #content beast