This post was prompted by reading A Time To Write by Wadds, open it in a new tab on your browser and give it a read.
Given Wadds’ post I thought I would reflect briefly on my own process.
Why I write?
Wadds describes his writing as a kind of mindfulness. For me writing serves a number of purposes:
- It cements things in my memory, a bit like revision at school
- It helps me work out ideas and my stance on them
- Its a good platform for experiments. I started off my blogging to work out how it could help clients that I couldn’t get media coverage for. This was back before social media was a thing. At the moment I am using this blog as part of an experiment on LinkedIn Pulse as a source of traffic. More on that when I have a decent set of data
- Occasionally decent conversations spark of these posts, some of my good friends are online
- There is a more talented fighter than I, also called Ged Carroll. I like to have a clear differentiator from him
- My blog is also a marketing calling card, I have got jobs from it over the years.
Wadds talks about why people don’t write, he describes it as effort and bravery. I suspect its a bit more complex. Yes life does get in the way for many people, but many of my friends have their own creative outlets: painting, photography, the art of social conversation, mastering video games to name but three. For me writing extends out of curiosity, it is a natural progression – otherwise ideas would vanish into the ether.
In terms of bravery, Wadds talks about the willingness to share private or personal subjects. I generally don’t, the reason is quite simple. Growing up in an Irish household, my time was predominantly spent in the UK during The Troubles, I grew up with the idea of the pervasive, invasive surveillance state. I grew up with a personal perception of what could be called ‘operational security’ (Op-Sec). The future has finally caught up.
You can break my workflow down into four sections:
- Ideation. Ideas broadly come from reading something or the world around me. If it is something on the world around me, I will make some bullets in the notes application of my iPhone. If it is a talk I will have likely recorded it using Olympus’ free dictation app for the iPhone. If it is from reading a book, I am likely to put post-it notes on the relevant pages with some notes and then flick back through this as I write a post. I have aversion to writing on the books themselves. I have found that I don’t get much out of reading on a Kindle, so only use that for leisure reading now. If I am inspired by something I have seen, there will be a picture on Flickr, which also serves as the image hosting platform for this blog. I have about 46 GB of images in my Flickr account – it would take a major tectonic event to persuade me to move to another platform like 500px. I have a Twitter account with a set of lists that provide inspiration and use Newsblur as an RSS reader as well. Newsblur is invaluable. I am currently trying Breaking News, an app recommended by Richard Edelman and occasionally dip into Apple’s own News app. When I have online content that has spurred a writing idea I will notate it in my bookmark service pinboard.in
- Writing. My writing method varies based on two criteria; the regularity of the post and the length of the post. If you’ve read my blog for a length of time you will see that there are repeating themes. Every two days is a collection of interesting links from around the web. These posts are based on content that I bookmark. There is a post on Friday for interesting creative or useful things, again this pretty much writes itself based on my bookmarks as I ingest the web. At the moment I am publishing slides of data that I have collected on a monthly basis, I usually write a bit of analysis on the some of the data that I have surfaced. This just flows out easily. For short irregular posts they are often a stream of consciousness with minimal editing directly into WordPress. Longer posts are often mind-mapped onto engineering squared paper and then written into Hemingway
- Editing. Unlike Wadds, I don’t have an editor. I use Hemingway app as a machine-based editor. My fact-checking happens before words are committed to the posts in my reading around
- Syndication. I syndicate my content using plumbing that I have put int place using IFTTT and WordPress’ own JetPack plug-in. When I syndicate to Medium and LinkedIn this is done manually.
Wadds’ talks about mindfulness in writing. I don’t necessarily think that its the same for me. That feeling of being in the zone is something I get more from DJ’ing ironically, or focusing on a mundane task. Writing is more about making fleeting ideas permanent. It is also written with at least half an eye on my work.