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How to keep writing?

ardennl profile image Arden de Raaij ・1 min read

After a very enjoyable stint of traveling and not working at all, I dove back into web development head-first last year and had a great time doing some freelance work and writing tech/development related articles and tutorials.

When I took a new position as front-end developer, I hoped to keep up my blogging, but after 5 months I must say I've failed miserably! My blog is dying, my dev.to contributions are dwindling and my to-do list is filled with article ideas I want to finish one day. I'm just not sure how when working the ol' 9-5.

Tips, ideas and suggestions are welcome

PS, I'm an avid fan of 'GTD' but my article ideas keep on being shoved over to the 'long term' list πŸ˜…

Discussion

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Heya, I started blogging a year ago so am kinda newbie but want to share some thoughts.

First of all I write mainly for myself. Or at least to some extend. I write about a topic I'm deeply interested in right now. Keeping in mind I am writing for myself removes a bit of that mentioned "what I write is not important enought for anyone" feeling. It also helps with "is this good/polished enough?". I use writing as channel for reflection which is already worth and valuable in itself.

I also write for an (imaginary) audience. Most of the time, I write with one or two specific persons in mind. That helps me to set a tone and scope (beginner, expert, whatever).

Keeping in mind that I write a blog also removes some pressure of the kind "am I really skilled enough to have an opinion about that?"
The "worst" that can happen is that someone challenges my opinion and I have the possibility to change or adapt it. In that case I can update my blog article and let it grow. Blog posts are not static, I think remembering that is of great value.

Writing during office hours is in general not possible for me and I have a familiy, kids, pets and all that real life stuff. But I have my two evenings a week which are mine. Mostly I use them for writing, sometimes for Open Source or Gaming. It's a great thing to have reliable time spots. I set my pace according to the possibilities I have and so I was able to mostly write one article per month.

And one thing about unfinished articles: For me, I embraced the thought that the first draft of an article is always just the beginning. So I try to get there quickly. The rest is editing. Lots of editing.
I know there are different approaches and with this approach my articles tend to get longer and also need more effort, but I'm satisified with them which is the most important thing. Because: I write mainly for myself.

Hope that helps :)

 

You've already posted articles and tutorials, and even have a blog, gratz for that (I bet not even 10 % of developers went that far).
One of the great motivation is to post articles that are actually being read, and dev.to has a vibrant community for this. It's even possible to double post here and on your blog.

My advice to keep writing would be first and foremost to write something useful to you. To cement your knowledge while learning.
It takes time as you said, and if you don't feel its usefulness, then it's normal to quit.

About me, it's the opposite, I was on a 9 to 5 job before and couldn't block the time to write. Now that I am free, I'm starting to go for it.
By the way, I realize having a regular job should not stop us from learning and improving. Don't sell 10 hours of your daily life for a salary if you feel stuck and not growing.

Recently I discovered a minimalist management list tool, Workflowy, that is both light and easy to use. It works better than OneNote so far for me (to put down ideas, articles to be written, articles and books to read...). Probably thanks to its "infinite bullet indentation" features, that makes it unique to organize our thoughts.

I also recommend using a timer app like Toggl. It helps to become more mindful of what we are currently doing, and how much time we put into it.

 

Thanks for the kind words, to be honest, this is v129 of me trying to blog, haha. I always create myself a new blog, start writing for a few months and then it slowly dies down, good intentions and all.

I have been slightly more consistent with Dev.to, as I know things are being read a lot more and it generates traffic to my own site as well.

And no a regular job shouldn't stop you from writing, but more often than not my 'off-time' is better defined when I work for an employer than when I freelance, resulting in less time working on side-projects, etc. Ideally I'd write these articles during worktime and have the rest of the team benefit from them as well. Unfortunately that's not always possible though.

I use Todoist and it has been stellar for organizing this kind of stuff, but I'll have a look at Workflowy as well (I'll put it on my to-do list πŸ˜…). Oh and I already use toggl, it has helped me greatly with prioritising the things I actually want to do.

Thank you for all your suggestions!

 

For a few years now, I have had the ritual to post good music (and a short overview over the news) in my blog every Monday morning. I only took a general "blog break" of several weeks once. That keeps me posting even between the Mondays, because I wouldn't want to read my own blog if there's just "some weird music" once a week.

Sometimes I even manage to work on long-term articles.

 

That's a really good idea, at least posting something interesting that doesn't cost a ton of energy and time to create. I tried to make weekly roundups of articles I wanted to share, but digesting all of those was way too much effort.

I might think of something feasible and informative to post, just to keep things going. Thanks!

 

I can recommend to use OneNote (or Pocket or a text file or something) to collect articles over the week, maybe write one additional sentence or two for all of them. :-)

Thanks, I use Todoist for that! Works perfect, but I've got a hard time writing something superficial, I always try to get to the nitty gritty which might be part of my problem!

 

I've been thinking the same way about myself here in dev.to.

Other than time constraints, what mostly keeps me from posting more often is that I tend to criticize what I'm about to post before doing it, to the point I end up either deleting or never finishing an article. Which I believe comes from thinking that maybe what I might be writing about isn't really that important to others.

So I recently decided to write about small things I learn along the way during my work hours and weekends to sort of "solidify" my knowledge about them.

 

That feels very close to home! Like I mentioned in my previous reply, I always tend to go in to deep. I start rubber ducking my problems and before you know it I'm writing a damn book while I just wanted to show-off how to do some fun stuff. Maybe I should keep things smaller and more precise indeed. Thanks for your suggestion!

 

One mindset I think really helps in this situation is realizing that we're not actually trading time for money but we're trading energy for it. Surely there is time between when you come back from home and you go to sleep for you to post something, but you don't. Why? because you are missing a key element: energy. You are exhausted after a full day of work.

How about working on your own blog before going to work, when you have the most amount of energy, in the morning? It's the same amount of time as if you were to do it after work, except you are now allocating much more energy for the blog and less for work.

 

This is so very true and such a great idea!

I already wake up fairly early (05:45 - 06:00am) but I mostly use that time to work on my health (running, working out) as I find that the most important thing I don't want to skip on (and like you said, after work I've got so much less energy for it, or excuses not to go).

But I think I could make some more/extra time in the morning. I've got the luck that my starting times are flexible as well, so I could just start work a little later to spend some more time on things I actually want to have done.

Thank you for the great suggestion, this is super useful!

 

Writing has to be fun. If you don't have fun then stop thinking of that and do something fun instead.

Also, you don't owe anybody anything, so don't worry about not being here for a while. I had stopped blogging for more than a year before resuming with new ideas. My articles are better now because I focus on the solutions I needed for my problems.

 

Thanks for the wise words!

 

This is the main reason why I still haven't launched my own blog, it's really hard to find the time and the energy to be productive after a day of work. Not to mention all the other projects.

 

That's it exactly. When I do have the time I rather work on my sideprojects so postpone writing. Of course I could write about my side projects but I tend to go very deep when I write and probably create an entire tutorial series out of it..which turns out to be too much work and I abandon the plan..rinse, repeat.

 

Something I'll try (at first with projects, then with a blog if it works) is having a fixed time (or even two) in the week that I will dedicate to one specific thing no matter what, with no exceptions.

 

I think if your writing can get feedback from your reader. It would much encourage you to continue writing.