Thoughts on Writing

I don’t like writing

I don’t like writing.

Period.

I really don’t like it.

I like to think and reason about particular topics, but have often been unable to express these thoughts in written form. This has changed with Twitter – granted, but here I’m specifically talking about other media.

Why is that the case?

Writing feels too much like work

First, I guess I’m not particularly gifted with a rich vocabulary nor an eloquent writing style. My writing process therefore involves constantly switching between open browser tabs (dictionary, thesaurus, and the like).

I also often skim through lists of common English expressions and idioms in the hope of finding a better wording. This is often a frustrating and uninspiring experience that kills creativity and motivation.

Second, writing an article or blog post feels like work to me in particular the type of work that I don’t enjoy doing.

I think the latter point is the crux of the issue: it feels too much like work.

But wait a second: why do I enjoy spending more than an hour and half on a 50+ tweet thread, but can’t bother myself to sit down to write a 500-word blog post?

Simple – my Twitter interactions are spontaneous and unfiltered.

Why is Twitter different?

It usually starts with a simple thought that just occurs to me. The idea gets packaged in a tweet or two and immediately published without much further consideration.

Then the magic happens: the initial thought triggers further ideas that just seem to emerge spontaneously in my head. I just keep adding these thoughts to the original tweet(s), and – voil√†! – we’ve got an entire 2,000-word thread!

A simple tweet can thus trigger a spontaneous explosion of related ideas and thoughts that immediately get published in raw form. That means no filtering (“Can i publish this as is?”), no careful evaluation (“Should I post this at all?”), and no lengthy pursuit of fancy expressions (“Is there a way to make my argument sound smarter?”).

This doesn’t feel like work at all. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy this sudden eruption of creativity* that seems to naturally occur. Now, funnily enough, this would never have happened had I fancied writing a blog post on the very same topic. For the lack of motivation or perseverance, or, more likely, both.

Is there a magic solution?

So, how can this issue be overcome?

I think it’s actually pretty simple: applying the Twitter process to blog post writing.

1) Keep it short and simple: no fancy 5,000-word essays full of jargon and complex sentences that even academics would have trouble following. Instead, use simple language whenever possible and keep it short.

2) Keep it unfiltered (to a reasonable extent): just like Twitter, publish your thoughts in their original form – as much as possible, of course.** This means that you shouldn’t have to re-read and amend your post a dozen times, just to eventually throw it away out of dissatisfaction. Nothing is perfect, and your blog post is not competing with Pulitzer price candidates (or is it?!).

Of course this isn’t a magic bullet for everything. It’s a method to overcome the “innerer Schweinehund” (literal translation: “internal pig-dog”, effective meaning: one’s weaker self), as the Germans would say, and start enjoying the process of writing. Don’t get lost in endless questioning, self-doubt, and stubborn perfectionism, as this will rarely lead to a published post at all.

So, I guess you can expect me to pick up a more regular blogging habit in the coming weeks and months – short, simple, and (mostly) unfiltered!

Footnotes

*Beware: not all of my tweets and threads are creative!

**Proof-reading and a final check are obviously exempted. The resulting piece of “work” should still meet certain quality standards.

2 Replies to “Thoughts on Writing”

  1. Thanks for this, I suffer a similar schweinehund on writing. My hack is going to be to take emails I write and quickly convert them to public posts. Email is my equivalent to your twitter threads.

    Hopefully we each get a little more value out into the world.

    1. That’s an interesting approach as well!

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