Several months ago I was talking to my fiancé about a course she was taking. She’d set up a Facebook group for herself and her peers. It ended up being a really valuable resource for everyone to talk over assignments, and chat about that one creepy lecturer behind their back.
She had been struggling with a particular question, and eventually she solved it. I asked if she would share it with the group but she was reluctant, “but everyone already knows the answer”. Do they? The idea seemed bizarre — if you struggled, is it so likely everybody else breezed through the problem? It could end up helping at least one person.
This got me thinking, I’ve always wanted to write, but I don’t. I’d think “but everyone already knows the answer” too, or “somebody else has already written about that”. Adding to the vast amounts of redundant information online always seemed like a good enough reason to allow myself to procrastinate.
But how redundant is that information really? Of all the millions of websites out there, how many can their be about that very specific SASS problem you’ve been working on? Even if there is an article out there, how often do you research a problem from a single source? Somebody might find this useful.
Writing can also be a completely selfish act. I talked to a friend about wanting to write more. He asked “why writing, why not video blogging or podcasting?”. It took me a while to think of an answer.
Writing gives me time to be mindful of my thoughts, to slow down and air my ideas. This process often opens up further lines of enquiry and allow me to speak confidently about those ideas later. Writing also allows my ideas to stand on their own merits, I don’t want to conflate success or failure with any other factors, at least not at present.
Ultimately I really enjoy hearing and reading about people and their process, so I love it when people share their approaches to work. It’s easy to forget how these articles, podcasts, videos etc. get online, people have to be willing to put something out there. This is something I want to contribute to.
With that said, I will finally urge any other reluctant writers to have a stab at it. You can write for yourself, to be more mindful on your own thoughts and feelings. Or you can write for all, everyone always has their on take on a subject — their own process. Your ideas are not redundant, write them down.
Originally posted on williamthomas.io on January 23 2015.