9 votes

[Rant] The Great Wall Of Text #1

From today, I've decided to write at least something every day until the writer's block frees me of its hold. I face this from time to time and don't really understand what to do, there is no cure really except hoping that something will happen or some inspiration will strike at some point causing me to write something.

One of the reasons could be that I'm a computer programmer and mostly blog about technology topics. But programming isn't really a topic or subject on which you can keep churning out rivers of literature, can you? It's a very exact and precise science just like mathematics and I feel most things that must be written about it are already written. In fact, I pretty much feel the same way about any kind of topic, we are literally swimming in oceans of information already! That's probably one of the reasons that keeps me from writing. I don't want to unnecessarily add my useless pennies to great literature contributed by people who are wiser and smarter than me.

But then the question arises what should I write about or blog about? I can write about nothing in particular and whatever that comes to mind (like I'm doing now) or I can write a research or news article or something. But I don't know how exactly people go about that. Most articles today are opinion pieces anyway and mine will probably be the same. But where do these "opinion writers" get their information from? There have to be some primary or base level sources. What are they? Can you recommend some good ones?

Another thing that keeps me from writing freely is all the environment you see on the interwebs these days which is just so toxic and discouraging, isn't it? It's not just about having a thick skin anymore but you live in a constant fear of getting canceled for something as trivial as your mere mentioning of some individual (about whom you may not even be fully aware of). I have to think a million times before writing something if this will offend any netizen or not, my guess is that many other writers must be going through the same thing and this is what results in the infamous contemporary expression, Self-Censorship!

If you're going to constantly self-censor yourself and kill many great ideas when they're just in their infancy, I don't think you'll be left with a lot of creative stuff to write and you may not even feel like writing anymore. Self-Censorship beyond a basic extent (like filtering of abusive words and phrases, etc.) is counter-productive and should be highly discouraged in my humble opinion.

Other natural antagonists like lethargy, laziness, procrastination, etc. also need to be blamed, of course! Sometimes, I don't find the motivation to read or do further research on a topic. Without reading, you can't get enough material to write, a good writer must be an avid book worm also. I feel sure I can contribute a lot to the literary world some day and I've decided to keep battling with my proverbial pen (actually the keyboard!) until the day it happens.

I think that's enough for today, might come up with another great wall of text tomorrow! Sorry if I wasted your time.

14 comments

  1. [3]
    pocketry
    Link
    I'm not a programmer, and I love working with them. I'm a product manager and do my best to understand the technologies underlying the products I manage. I'm curious about your experience with...

    I'm not a programmer, and I love working with them. I'm a product manager and do my best to understand the technologies underlying the products I manage. I'm curious about your experience with product managers and how you think they could help enable you to do great work.

    If you want to get a better understanding of my view of what product management is, then read this and follow any links that seem interesting.
    https://www.svpg.com/value-and-viability/

    What are the flaws in the line of thinking in the article above? I've drunk the Kool aid and have a hard time seeing it from other perspectives.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      vord
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      As someone whom is not in the sphere, here's my two cents: I think you hit the nail more or less on the head, especially with this point: In particular, in the effort to dissolve a typical...

      As someone whom is not in the sphere, here's my two cents:

      I think you hit the nail more or less on the head, especially with this point:

      But who exactly is the CEO supposed to look to for that accountability? If it’s not the product manager, then who? Most designers and engineers certainly didn’t sign up for that (and haven’t been trained and coached for that).

      In particular, in the effort to dissolve a typical heirarchal organization with more of a flat one (ie co-ops and such), you've highlighted the value that a PM provides. In a flat org, engineers and designers probably should want/be coached on some of these, but that digresses into my thoughts on overspecialization these days.

      I think one of our biggest struggles in society stems from the fact that PMs (really all management to a degree) automatically equate their responsibility as being inherintly more valuable than the work their 'underlings' provide. From CEO to janitor, being the extreme example. A janitor's value is not 'an uneducated person can do this job,' the janitors value is equal to the time saved from the other employees to focus on their work instead of cleaning their spaces. The janitor is as valuable to the organization as the CEO, just in a very different (and more easily replaceable) way.

      I posit that the work the managememt provides is equal to engineers and designers at an equivalent experience level. Paying management more is why we end up getting people ill-suited for management into management, because it ultimately ends up being the only way past the "worker ceiling."

      2 votes
      1. pocketry
        Link Parent
        I think the term manager gets over used a bit and leads to the situation you describe. Because of this, I love the term individual contributer. That's what I am. I don't have anyone that reports...

        I think the term manager gets over used a bit and leads to the situation you describe. Because of this, I love the term individual contributer. That's what I am. I don't have anyone that reports to me, so manager in my title is misleading.

        For a programmer with similar years of experience, I actually expect them to be paid more than me. I also love the idea of a promotion and pay ladder for individual contributors to allow people to become experts and not have to go into that management track.

        3 votes
  2. skybrian
    Link
    You don’t have to compete with all the great content out there. You can use it. You can link and quote, and you can add context, and show relationships. There is value in taking what you’ve read...

    You don’t have to compete with all the great content out there. You can use it. You can link and quote, and you can add context, and show relationships. There is value in taking what you’ve read and sharing it with others.

    For example, writing a book review seems like a good way to practice writing? Sure, the book is already written, but most people won’t read it. That’s where you come in.

    It’s a pretty flexible format since often writers will use the book as a starting point to talk about their own ideas, but you don’t necessarily have to do that. You can write about more than one book, or talk about what other people have said about the subject, or whatever.

    It can be as short or as long as you like, so if you don’t have more to say, you can wrap it up.

    5 votes
  3. [2]
    Bearskin
    Link
    Let me preface this by stating that I'm not a tech person, and in every respect a horrible writer. The first thing that came to mind was a dialogue between two fictional characters. "Becky &...

    Let me preface this by stating that I'm not a tech person, and in every respect a horrible writer. The first thing that came to mind was a dialogue between two fictional characters.

    "Becky & Thaddeus fix a printer."

    "Becky & Thaddeus: Cloud Storage Hiccups"

    Presenting the same information without the dry format. Throwing in a joke or having the characters take jabs at one another might keep the reader engaged enough to reach the end. One taking shortcuts and suggesting common mistakes—the other, representing your knowledge on the subject, calling them out and explaining why they're an idiot.

    It worked for Plato as a means to break down philosophy. Maybe it could help stand out in a crowded market of tech articles. Again, I have no business weighing in here and just decided to spitball a random idea.

    4 votes
    1. Grendel
      Link Parent
      I'm a developer and you've brought to mind a relevant piece of comp Sci lore I haven't thought about in a long time. Over 40 years ago a paper on a newly invented (and immensely important)...

      I'm a developer and you've brought to mind a relevant piece of comp Sci lore I haven't thought about in a long time.

      Over 40 years ago a paper on a newly invented (and immensely important) encryption method was written. To make the concepts easier to understand they used the names of people in a very simple scenario. Alice wants to send Bob a message, but Eve is trying to eavesdrop on it. There wasn't any context for these "characters" as that wasn't relevant to the paper.

      Over the years though nerd culture has built up a mythos surrounding these names; stories about Alice and Bob being in n a relationship while Eve is a jilted ex lover.

      There were other characters added through the years for genuine technical reasons and the legends continued to grow around them, like Mallory, Trudy, and Trent.

      Thanks for bringing that to mind, the memory definitely brought a smile to my face.

      2 votes
  4. stu2b50
    Link
    I think this is what Twitter really figured out. I definitely feel the urge when blogging that yknow it’s mildly formal and it should be coherent and worth saying. On the other hand, there’s much...

    I think this is what Twitter really figured out. I definitely feel the urge when blogging that yknow it’s mildly formal and it should be coherent and worth saying.

    On the other hand, there’s much more the urge to just spill things out on Twitter and to a lesser extent Reddit. I don’t think Insta or FB or snap have that kind of attribute.

    Its really made Twitter the de facto place for what would have been bloggers. And why people write multiparagraph blog like things across 10 tweets to get around the character limit.

    It coulda been a blog, but it probably would have been self censored because the author felt it wasn’t good enough.

    4 votes
  5. [2]
    0d_billie
    Link
    I really feel this energy, impostor syndrome is a bitch. I don't have any pearls of wisdom for getting through it, other than to say if you enjoy writing, keep writing. Even if nobody reads it,...

    I feel most things that must be written about it are already written. In fact, I pretty much feel the same way about any kind of topic, we are literally swimming in oceans of information already! That's probably one of the reasons that keeps me from writing. I don't want to unnecessarily add my useless pennies to great literature contributed by people who are wiser and smarter than me.

    I really feel this energy, impostor syndrome is a bitch. I don't have any pearls of wisdom for getting through it, other than to say if you enjoy writing, keep writing. Even if nobody reads it, keep writing. I don't know if IS ever goes away, but the more you practice a thing, the better at it you get, and your benchmark for what you can produce vs what others are doing is changed, and suddenly they're not so much better or more insightful than you.

    3 votes
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      I feel much the same, but one reason I write comments on tildes at all is that it scratches the blogging itch whilst being noncommital and a bit lower effort to engage. I'm reminded of an old blog...

      I feel much the same, but one reason I write comments on tildes at all is that it scratches the blogging itch whilst being noncommital and a bit lower effort to engage.

      I'm reminded of an old blog article I can't find that said something like (badly paraphrased from memory):

      Even if you're not saying anything new, saying it in your own way might expose it to someone who hasn't heard of it, or connect with someone whom didn't relate to it from someone else.

      4 votes
  6. [4]
    DMBuce
    Link
    I feel you. Just speaking personally as a sysadmin, I put up a professional blog some years back, wrote a couple articles, and quickly realized that there is not much I have to say. I've put up...

    I feel you. Just speaking personally as a sysadmin, I put up a professional blog some years back, wrote a couple articles, and quickly realized that there is not much I have to say. I've put up maybe one or two posts since then showing how I solved a problem in a new-ish way, but beyond that I don't really see the point in writing a blog. So I don't perceive a lack of new articles on my blog as writer's block, it's simply that I have nothing new to share.

    But that's just me, I get my writing fix elsewhere. I have some open source personal projects with documentation that could always use improvement, and then there's the internal documentation I create for the company I work for. I write that documentation because I want to be able to refer back to it, or refer others to it. And also because I genuinely (and weirdly) enjoy writing documentation.

    Maybe you could consider writing in some other, non-blog format?

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Out of curiosity, have you ever considered a career in technical writing? One of my friends used to do that for the FAA, and he quite enjoyed it. It's a field that is heavily reliant on...

      Out of curiosity, have you ever considered a career in technical writing? One of my friends used to do that for the FAA, and he quite enjoyed it. It's a field that is heavily reliant on cross-disciplinary skill, but it's also apparently quite easy to transition into if you already have enough relevant experience in another field that employs technical writers, which system administration and software/network engineering does. And, from what I understand, it often pays quite well too. ;)

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        DMBuce
        Link Parent
        I haven't, I'll look into it. Thanks! It's interesting that your friend did that for the FAA. A friend of mine has been working on getting a noncommercial pilot's license (or something like that,...

        I haven't, I'll look into it. Thanks!

        It's interesting that your friend did that for the FAA. A friend of mine has been working on getting a noncommercial pilot's license (or something like that, not sure what it's called) and he's been talking about how good their documentation is a lot lately.

        3 votes
        1. cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          He told me the FAA employs an astronomical amount of technical writers, so it's honestly not surprising that their documentation for pilots is so good. His particular job mostly focused on...

          He told me the FAA employs an astronomical amount of technical writers, so it's honestly not surprising that their documentation for pilots is so good. His particular job mostly focused on translating flight manuals and engineering documents into something that the policy staff there could better understand and utilize, so I imagine there are technical writers working at nearly every level of the agency.

          3 votes
  7. lou
    Link
    Not exactly a response, but I wonder why most people defaults to nonfiction when they decide to write a blog. I mean, nothing wrong with that, but why's there generally no consideration whatsoever...

    Not exactly a response, but I wonder why most people defaults to nonfiction when they decide to write a blog. I mean, nothing wrong with that, but why's there generally no consideration whatsoever for something fiction (or non-nonfiction, if that makes sense)?

    1 vote