Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

It’s NaNoWriMo!

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

I’ve been participating in National Novel Writing Month. There’s a theory that everyone has a novel in them, so I’m trying to get mine out, so I can get on with life. This does mean that I’m not posting here much this month, particularly as I’ve been traveling like crazy for a while and still have a normal job to do!

Don’t bury the idea

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

It’s very tempting to bury ideas in a lot of extra talk (or writing). If an idea is good, it’s not usually necessary to support it with lots of explanation of why it’s so great. The temptation for writers (particularly those paid by the word – or the 600 page novel) is to take a good idea, and bury it in prose.

Blogging, as a form of writing, needs to be pretty short and direct (of course, you can always find exceptions), and to hold people’s attention, you need to grab them early. I think a good rule is to state the core of your ‘story’ in the first paragraph, and if necessary to expand on it later. If the idea is good, then people will read that, and get the er…idea, which will determine whether they read more. The more interested reader might read further down into your expansion, the less might just abandon you part way, but neither reader will likely get there if you spend the first two paragraphs on preamble and introduction.

Journalists know this – a quick glance across any of the stories on will show you this technique at work. An attention grabbing headline, a first paragraph synopsis of the story, and then (often most importantly) the real detail below. Of course, in journalism, its that later expansion which is often the important part. Headlines are often deliberately sensationalized, and the real story is buried a bit deeper. However, it’s a good rule to follow for any sort  of writing. Get your idea out there, cut away the fat, and you’ll be more likely to be read.

If you want to be a writer, you need to write.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Some sage advice (as almost always) from Seth Godin – which can be summed up as “write, and continue to do so, until you write better”.

I’ve always dreamed of being a writer, and on occasion I’ve even done so successfully (I count being paid to write as being more of a successful writer than most aspiring writers), but I’ve never had the true commitment to it to as a career.

In fact, most of what I do daily is writing, but too much of it is unstructured and rushed – replies to email, quick jotted notes for things I need to do, ideas for the future etc. I’d like that to change, but the only way for that to happen is for me to write! To deliberately make time to actually sit and let the words flow onto the page (figuratively speaking, as what I really mean is for the words to form by me pressing little plastic keys on my laptop and them, in turn, being displayed on a backlit screen).

This is the challenge, for it is not really the words that are lacking – anyone can write, you just need to actually do it – but it’s the motivation. It’s all too easy to just sit back and do nothing – if you work hard, and end up tired every day, it’s easy to use tiredness as an excuse to just ‘veg out’ – rather than motivate yourself to do something that you believe you love doing.

If you don’t actually do x, then no matter how much you say it, you aren’t x. If you say you love climbing, but never go out and climb (and believe me, the motivation to keep doing that is sometimes really hard to come by), then you’ll never be a climber. If you say you love writing, but don’t motivate yourself to write, you’ll never be a writer.

So, I have two choices: I can accept that I won’t ever be a writer (or keep fooling myself that one day I’ll do it), or I can get on with it, and write, consistently and even when I don’t feel like it, even when I feel as if I have nothing to say.

So, this is me, writing. Let’s see if I can keep it up. As Seth Godin said here “Self motivation is and always will be the most important form of motivation.” Time is a commodity we can always find, but motivation can only come from within, and that’s a daily choice.

A new blog on technical writing

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

My colleague Fer has recently started blogging here. He’s an excellent writer and the blog looks great so fer er far.

Hold that thought

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

The difference between writing and being a writer is that when you write, you hold the pen and when you are a writer, the pen holds you.