I have written blog posts on Medium once or twice a year for the past decade. I have posted 14 times from 2011 to 2018. Every few years I would start blogging with renewed passion, and after 1 or 2 posts my enthusiasm would run out and I wouldn't post for another year or so.
I realize now that I could not blog consistently because I was trying to blog for the wrong reasons:
- Becoming visible in the community.
- Because all the cool kids have blogs.
- To build a portfolio site to show my knowledge as a software developer.
I was blogging for external reasons. My motivation for blogging was to either fit some mold that I thought others wanted me to fit, or to gain recognition from others. I've found over time that anything I do for external reasons doesn't tend to last long and I loose motivation pretty quickly.
But when I do things for myself, for internal reasons, I tend to stick with them longer. To be clear, I'm not saying that writing for external reasons is wrong or doesn't work. It works for a very large number of people. Just not for me.
I have decided that I'd like to start writing again. I'm doing it in public because that's the best way to gather feedback and improve myself, but I'm no longer doing it for visibility or internet brownie points. While visibility is something that may come out of it, it's not my primary goal.
I want to write because that's the best way to:
- Refine my ideas.
- Share and get feedback on my ideas.
- Understand what I consume.
Understand what I consume
I think this is the most important benefit, and why I decided to start writing again. I decided this after watching a couple of videos by Shu Omi, a YouTuber focusing on productivity and writing. One video which really inspired me to start writing again is this one.
It's not new information that writing about and summarizing content that you consume is a great way to judge how well you understand it. This is similar to the Richard Feynman technique of learning. If you can't explain something in your own words, you don't understand it yet.
Writing about a topic or some content doesn't make you understand it better. Instead, it highlights the parts which you don't fully understand yet. It's difficult to write about something you don't understand. Writing notes about it helps you to identify those weak points and work on it.
How much will I blog
I'm not sure yet. I'm trying to get in the habit of taking notes of any article I read that I feel has useful information. There are many articles or books which I read just for fun or to waste some time. I don't make notes for those articles.
But for ones that have information which I feel is relevant & useful to me, I plan to make notes on. I'm using Roam Research to keep my notes, because the idea of having notes linked with each other really resonates with me. I might write about this in a future blog post.
I don't plan to share all my notes on this blog. Instead, I plan to use this as a space to explore, refine, and share my ideas on various topics. My notes in Roam will become the source of ideas for my blog.
Blogging will hopefully force me to think deeper, and refine my thoughts on the different things I take notes on. I don't plan to regurgitate my notes on here. That would not be useful to you or me.
Increasing my luck surface area
Becoming more visible is another benefit of blogging. While it's no longer my primary goal, I am aware that it's a benefit that I could (and hope to) get out of my writing habit.
I've lately started believing in the concept of "Luck Surface Area". Luck is mostly being in the right place at the right time. If you have a lot of visibility in a community, your luck surface area tends to increase.
The more things you try out, the greater the chances of you getting lucky. Starting writing again should increase my luck surface area. Time will tell.
How I'm building my writing habit
Instead of just consuming content (articles, videos, books) and then moving on to the next one, I'm deliberately trying to make notes on all content that I feel is useful.
This blog post came from the notes I made on the video by Shu Omi.
I now put articles, videos, Twitter threads that I find can provide value in a "Consumption List". I then go through it in my downtime and pick something to consume and make notes on.
I've been doing this only for the past few days, but I've noticed that making notes has forced me to read more carefully, and pay attention to the content, as I know I'm going to have to summarize it.