📝 Writing Guide
This is a collection of notes and thoughts on my writing process that I’ve picked up on my own journey over the years. If there’s an area that you’d be curious to see me talk about or expand on, let me know!
A big part of writing is constantly fighting our own demons. We have to get past them in order to let our writing come through. Then we have to do it again, and again, and again. You must be prolific with your writing in order to really see its benefits. Focus on building and maintaining your momentum.
- Low Stakes, Strong Takes — Instead of dumping all of our work into the ocean of public social media, we can share it in controlled environments. We can let it swim in friendly waters—streams and bays, rivers and lakes. There is an entire spectrum of sharing between private and public—you might call it semi-public sharing.
- How to Generate Ideas — My process for generating ideas to write about: finding creative prompts, balancing my inputs and maintaining consistent outputs.
- Overcoming Writer's Block — How I unblocked myself to start writing my first short stories.
- Stop Waiting for the Ripe Idea — While you wait endlessly for that perfect idea to share, the ideas you have that area ready grow stale. Don’t wait.
- The Burden of Expectation — The biggest obstacle in creative work is the burden of expectation. In the ruthless game of self-criticism, our judgements are binary: everything we make is either perfect or garbage. This is a short post on overcoming creative blocks, and learning to let go.
- Overcoming Negativity — When a negative thought penetrates our mind, it can linger for days, weeks or more. Why does negativity hold so much power? How can we overcome it?
- Publishing Your First Post — Getting started is always challenging. This note shares some thoughts on setting up a blog and writing your very first posts.
Finding Your Why
It’s incredibly valuable to be prolific with your writing. It’s hard to do that unless you find and preserve your writing motivation. Without it, all the tools and tricks in the world won’t help you. You need to find your own why so that it can fuel you as you embark on your own writing journey.
- Peeling the Onion — I like to think of writing as peeling layers from the onion of my mind. Each layer is meaningful, but it is just one layer of many. If what I’m writing now is just the outer layers, what lies hidden beneath?
- Why You Should Stop Hesitating and Start Publishing - The fact that you worry is exactly why your work will be genuine, interesting, and unique. It’s because you care.
- Why Bother? — I found myself in a crisis of questioning: I was writing more than ever, but wasn’t sure exactly why. In this essay, I share the story of how I tackled this difficult question, and embraced the values of learning in public.
- Compound Benefits — Building a body of work to leverage the compound benefits of your writing.
- Flip the Script — I try not to think about audience growth when it comes to my writing. Instead, I look to do things that will help me engage more, learn more, and have more fun. This note is a comprehensive summary of the ideas so far.
- How to Ask for Feedback — Great feedback is a gift, but most feedback isn’t great. It takes a lot of intention, practice, and self-awareness to master the art of giving feedback. With a few adjustments to our approach, we can dramatically improve the effectiveness of the feedback we get, and protect our peace in the process.
- The Power of Feedback — Feedback has the power to inspire and energize us. But it can also lead us astray. We must handle feedback with care, and learn to look to our own instincts for guidance. Especially when we are first getting started, feedback can be an incredibly powerful gift that clarifies and guides our message.
- Art of Persuasion — How you can use Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion (Ethos, Pathos, Lagos) to make your writing connect with your audience.
- Science of Storytelling — Use timeless lessons of storytelling such as imagery and animism to bring your writing to life in the reader’s mind.
Choosing the right inputs to feed your thinking is a crucial part of good writing. Be mindful of what you read, and try to fully absorb the material that can fuel your writing. Quality over quantity is a good approach here.
- Bookshelf - Annual posts of my favorite books of the year, and a running thread of every book I’ve read this year.
- Resonance of Writing — What makes a book resonate? Beyond the typical factors (genre, author, etc.), I believe a major factor that is often ignored is timing. You need to be in a place in your life where you are ready to receive the message being presented by the author. If you’re not, it doesn’t matter how good the book is or how many weeks it’s been on the best seller list. The book won’t connect.
- Newsletter + RSS Workflow — My workflow for reading newsletters and RSS feeds, collecting highlights and taking notes from everything I read. This is a crucial part of how I fuel my writing with quality inputs.
I find that reading great books is the best way to learn to write. That said, there are some resources I’ve encountered which are just too full of wisdom to ignore. Here are some of my favorite books and resources on writing:
- Eliot Peper: Advice For Authors
- Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic
- Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird
- Dani Shapiro: Still Writing
- June Casagrande: It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences — I normally don’t enjoy books on syntax or grammar, as they are far too dry. But this one is excellent. In particular, the section on conjunctions is invaluable.