Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deliberate practice of writing

Writing is hard.

I'm always coming up with concepts of things to write about but hardly ever do I find the time (and/or desire) to sit down and flesh out those ideas. Some ideas are really strong, or well timed and they eventually make it but most linger as notes in Evernote / a Moleskin / Word / or even as a scribble on some papers and are discarded later. Knowing a life-long period of deliberate effort is necessary to improve performance (skills) in a specific area I’m deliberately trying to practice writing.

Committing to deliberate practice is hard and but the follow-through can be even harder. In order to commit I’ve created a daily goal of writing 1,000 words. I might get to it a few times per week at most but I hope at some point I’ll get over the hump where the ideas and words start flowing and things start to make sense. Whether or not I publish what I write doesn’t matter at this point.

I often start with some scratch notes or ideas from something I read, those become an incoherent story until I start moving the pieces around, filling in areas and eventually (hopefully) it turns into a pretty decent story. Most of the time anyways. Tools are abundant but don’t much matter until I know where I’m going to, if at all, publish and formatting comes into play. Minimalist writing tools like Ulysses seem to be my preferred platform at this point.

I think writing has intrinsic value. If you publish your writing it might one day have extrinsic value and help you build a readership, brand, or help someone else. When I need help I look to those who’ve published and when I can I acknowledge their work. Yet as much as I like helping others, my priority and joy in writing is in clarifying and distilling my thoughts and practices.

I greatly respect people who write well and whom take a first principles approach to their work. That’s an even more difficult goal - once you’ve begun to write well, can you analyze the subjects of your writing through the contrarian lens of thinking for yourself? Writing is hard but I will push forth and try to write for myself and hopefully be able to share some of that writing in the future. Who knows, maybe someone else will find some value in it as well?