Aaron Sumner


On writing (again)

My most productive stretch of writing, outside of the kind of writing they make you do in school, came from about 2008 through 2012. I wrote here. I wrote in Everyday Rails, my technical blog. I wrote the first iteration of my book. I wrote three to five times per week in a now-defunct work blog (Stratepedia, gone but not forgotten).

It was work, sometimes more than others. It was fun, sometimes less than others. There were some tricks that kept me going:

  1. Persistence (daily writing, or close to it)
  2. Accountability (people expected something daily from that work blog, every Monday through Friday)
  3. Support (I was luckily not the only one writing every one of those posts in the work blog)
  4. Patterns (like, writing lists may be good for clicks, but they're also easy to write when you're short on ideas or time)

My productive stretch came to an end. There were reasons–some self-inflicted, other not:

  1. The work blog came to an end, due to funding changes and other restructuring
  2. I left that job, for one that pushes me in new ways, but doesn't ask me to write (aside from a couple of posts early on)
  3. I came out of the gates too fast on Everyday Rails, and the pace was unsustainable (burnout, in retrospect)
  4. I let myself become content reading and writing things in 140 characters or less (unfortunately, I'm not alone there)

I'm working to right the ship, to start writing again. I've started scheduling weekly publication dates again (here on Sunday and Friday; Everyday Rails on Monday). I'm mixing think pieces with how-to code examples. And perhaps most importantly, I've cut out almost all social media activity–I'm write-only for the most part, though I do see and try to reply to mentions and direct messages. I'm also thinking about mixing media a bit–screencasts seem to make more sense for technical writing these days, so I'm hoping to get over my dislike of my voice, and maybe script some short video tutorials. Stay tuned.

This'll hopefully get me back to a maintainable routine. It'll be more work sometimes than others (this one was difficult to sit down and write), and less fun sometimes than others. But when I'm done, and published to whatever a piece is going to, I think I'll feel a lot better about myself than I would with a heavily-edited, 140-character string of words.

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