“Most of the rules that apply to writing long-form documents like Tech Narratives, Blog Posts or Papers hold up for writing short documents like E-Mails or issue tickets. Use this documents to practice your writing skills, by make them well structured, usable and polished.-Heinrich Hartmann, “Writing for Engineers.” HeinrichHartmann.com. April 15, 2022.
If I were to break down what I think of as important in writing.
- Write more frequently, less long. These are the building blocks for longer pieces. Make a daily habit of it if you can. My monthly Zuihitsu and my favorites from this blog are good examples.
- Use the Minto Pyramid Principle. It provides a good structure. Try this summary one sheet.
- Simplify your text using tools like The Hemingway Editor, which I have thoughts on. Eighth grade or below is a good level for a general audience.
- Know your audience.
- Using different tools, like the Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) to give your writing a different flavor.
I’ll add more to this as it occurs to me.
5 thoughts on “My Writing Advice”
Thanks for taking the time to walk me through this, I am not on twitter or Facebook…..I had never heard of AO3, I also like “Don’t Like, Don’t Read” there is so much that seems to be spinning out of control these days, not that we ever did have much control over anything…it was a comforting illusion.
Change it, live with it or leave it… good advice.
For some reason, the WordPress app won’t let me like your comment. I also liked this comment: https://www.robinsloan.com/lab/lost-thread/
Thanks for this…..what are your thoughts on the Twitter situation? I thought of what you told me about 4chan/8chan way back when….can there ever be a totally open free speech social media platform without finally hitting a “line” that even the most open minded free speech advocate “owner” cannot cross? I am feeling very apprehensive about where this will take us all, would like to hear your thoughts.
Philosophically, I think you should try to own your own platform. Most people don’t want to run a server, so I think it’s acceptable to outsource server management to a company, like WordPress, just so long as you can export your content. If it is your platform, you can say whatever you want. From a speaker point of view, I think this a good guide:
“One should respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.” -Bertrand Russell, “The Conquest of Happiness”
From a reader point of view, I think writers have a responsibility to help readers know what they are getting into, if they are going to go far outside what is acceptable to the general public. But, ultimately, it’s the reader’s choice. AO3 has a concept of “Don’t Like, Don’t Read,” rather than trying to censor content.[1,2] I think, in the main, this is a good idea.
That said, I pretty much agree with this bit I got from Ernie Smith in his MidRange newsletter today:
“The debate about free speech on the internet seems like it’s about politics. But I’d argue it’s really about decorum. Because there are no standards or rules as to how people act on the broader internet, there is nothing requiring you to be a good person, or a jerk, or a sockpuppet, or an edgelord. You can be any of those things. Or, depending on how you utilize anonymity, all of them.
I think back to what it was like for a lot of people, being 10 years old and just trying to make it through the day at school. But one bad apple could ruin the whole day, one bully could turn living into a horror show. Twitter, at its worst, can feel like bullies coming in from all corners; but at its best, it can introduce you to new types of people and new ways of thinking. People want the latter, not the former.
The internet is full of spicy opinions, and we’re all going to have them. But the reason, ultimately, we’re not all using IRC or Usenet in 2022 is not because we wanted better experiences, but because we wanted safer ones. We don’t want an internet of jerks.”
Personally, I don’t care about Twitter. I’ve come to use it lately because I’m in the process of switching my RSS readers, and I get a lot of cryptocurrency news from Twitter. But, I mostly retweet tweets I find interesting, if I am tweeting at all.
If you want a good Internet experience, stick to small communities of like-minded people. Find the small Internet, or people that do the Internet differently. In the end, Twitter is not a fixable problem. I think Elon Musk will find a way to make money from it. But, why do I care?
In life, when we encounter something we don’t like we always have three choices: change it, live with it or leave it. For me, leave it (and on a smaller scale live with it) is the right answer.
Comments are closed.