A blog about blogging

Today’s blog is about as meta as you can get. Yesterday my friend asked me for tips on how to write good. I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer, but I did and I sounded clever, so I thought I’d share some tips.

Write a lot

By that I don’t mean write a 10 page blog because chances are, it’ll be rubbish and no one will read it. What I mean is set yourself a meaningful target for how often you’re going to write, and stick to it. This really is the best way to find your writing style and get used to writing whenever you want to.

Admirably my former lecturer Rob Miles blogs every day because in his words, “if I don’t I won’t write again”. This probably sounds daunting, hence find a target which is right for you.

Find a topic you know something about

For me I find it easiest to write about new side projects I’m working on, a new language or toolkit I’ve picked up, or something I’ve had friends ask me questions about. Like I said when reflecting on my final year project, you need to be passionate or knowledgeable enough about the subject or the writing won’t be as interesting and you won’t enjoy it.

Stop caring

I’ve never really cared whether anyone’s reading what I’m writing. Or at least I pretend to myself that I don’t care - it comes as a bit of a shock when people mention they’ve read it or found it interesting and I get moderately worried/self conscious about what I’ve written, hence avoiding thinking about it. I like getting feedback, I like hearing people say that my blog has been of use to them and being recommended to other people (thanks @whaleygeek), but ultimately, I write because:

  • I like it
  • It’s useful to be able to go back and review technical information
  • It helps me think

Anything beyond that is a bonus, so as long as you’re not writing about something offensive, stop caring about whether people will read it, whether it’s boring, whether people will disagree and try to focus on why you want to write instead of what other people will think.

Avoid writing about work (without their permission)

This depends on the size of your company and your manager, but even as a courtesy, mentioning it to your manager before writing about work is important. Most places should be over the moon you’re writing about them because it’s good PR, but larger companies might need to fully review the blog before anything goes live, and you obviously shouldn’t write about any confidential or business sensitive information. Generally I find this gives me a bit less flexibility so I tend to stick to avoiding talking about it.