February 14, 2006
When I meet people that have something to say, and an interesting way of saying it, I encourage them to blog. But there's one big hurdle many people simply never get past: the actual writing.
I can respect that. Writing is hard. People spend their entire lives learning how to write effectively. It isn't something you can fake. It isn't something you can buy. You have to work at it.
That's exactly why people who are afraid they can't write should be blogging. It's exercise. No matter how out of shape you are, if you exercise a few times a week, you'll inevitably get fitter. Write a small blog entry a few times every week and you're bound to become a better writer. If you're not writing because you're intimidated by writing, well, you're likely to stay that way forever.
If you're still hesitant, I highly recommend John Scalzi's Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don't Want to Work at Writing, and Brian Marick's Hints for Revising. They're absolutely dead on with every point. Consider your writing a natural extension of your spoken conversations. If you aren't comfortable reading it out loud, rewrite it until you are. In the words of Elmore Leonard:
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Blogging isn't for everyone. But if you think it might be for you, don't let fear of writing keep you from doing it.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
That's funny, I just read John Scalzi's article. I have been blogging to try and become a better writer. Even though I have seen some improvement, I still get teased about my writing skills. Damn English majors.
I don't know about anyone else, but it takes me absolutely ages to write anything (throwaway blog comments excepted :). I'm constantly revising, checking for readability, spelling, correct semantics and agonising in general. I think blogging has helped in this respect, but the payoff is that I've been able to write more, not write more productively.
Recommended for improving writing: a href="http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2006/01/01/swear_a_bit.html"http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2006/01/01/swear_a_bit.html/a
Joel Spolsky talks about practicing writing. He said he even takes some course just to force himself to write...
I know I dislike writing, only because it is still in the "it hurts to do it" phase... and it isn't yet into "habit". I am working on that though!
Brian's hints for revising are superb;
i would take issue with only one of his recommendations, that "bullet lists" should be turned into paragraphs. i find bullet lists to be great at conveying information and believe them to be underused.
Nice post! I agree, avoidance is not an excuse, it does not give permission. And thank you for the quick peek at my post, too! Heather
Hmmm, i have the _exact_opposite_ problem: I can't speak as well as I write.
The benefit to writing is one is given _time_ to think through, reflect, review, re-evaluate before finalising. Spoken words, once departed from the mouth, cannot return.
Well, i have been blogging for three years now, just to improve my writing style. With English not being my mother tongue, I realized that one should know how to express his thoughts in this Universal Language :)
I also realized that, If you want to write well, READ WELL. I read a lot of blogs like Jeff's which helps me improve.
Thank you Jeff, for writing this blog :)
I have a great idea for a first blog article. It's about the debate over implicit typing, particularly the VAR keyword in C#. Although it's been over three years since it was introduced, people are still arguing about it, namely the development team at the company I work at. So stay tuned for my thoughts.