How to write consistently, a guide for technical writers
So, do you have a blog?
In that case, this article is very relevant to you. As you have a blog, you must be writing articles already. But, are you writing
consistently? The only way to build an audience base and stay connected to your readers is,
I love this famous quote,
If you want to be taken seriously, be Consistent!
It is very true for any work field, including writing. In this article, I am going to take you through the ways of writing consistently. The rules and guidance mentioned in this article are applied to any sort of writing but, my experience is mostly on the
If you do not have a blog yet but aspire to be a Technical Writer, give these guidelines a chance to see how it impact you positively.
What does Consistent mean?
The act of behaving or happening in a
similar way over time.
Consistency is a characteristic one can build in life by setting and achieving specific goals. First, is to determine the goals to achieve and plan out the path to get to it. Consistency is the tool to help you with achieving it.
Consistency in Writing
If you are a technical writer(or a writer), what kind of goals you may have? Here are my goals as a technical writer,
- Share valuable learning using my blog articles.
- Reach out as many as technology enthusiasts possible through my writing.
- Build an audience base who would be looking forward to reading my articles.
- Grow my knowledge about technology, domain, and writing practices.
- I want to be taken seriously as a technical writer.
- Last but not least, I want to stay happy about what I am doing.
The How part
Alright, so how to be consistent in writing? Is there any set of rules and guidelines to follow? Yes, there are. I could come up with these 8 points that I follow directly or indirectly to make sure, I wrote consistently. Hope you enjoy reading it.
First step: You need to Write
No matter what, first you need to start writing to
write consistently. Do research on the topic you are interested to write about. Put your thoughts together to validate if your research was enough. Start writing, proofread your article, and finally publish.
As a beginner technical writer, you may have the imposter syndrome. It is not rare and you have it because you may not know your potential yet.
The best way I found to deal with it is, be part of a community like HashNode and get your work noticed by others. The more you write, share, read, and comment, the more you feel comfortable about your own writing. Please give it a try if you haven't done it, you will thank me for this advice!
Habit is hard to build until it is built
Habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is
hard to give up.
Have you noticed the word,
regular and the phrase,
hard to give up? Writing consistently means, to make the writing regular(daily, weekly, weekly twice, some frequency, etc.) such that, it is hard to give up. Make writing your habit, a good one.
Trigger: Do you Smoke?
Do you? Good for you, if you don't. In case you are(like how I was 7 years back), you probably know what does the
triggeris an event that will kick off that automatic urge to do a
When I used to smoke, it used to be after breakfast, lunch, snacks, tea, dinner, basically, the food used to be the trigger. There will be different triggers for different habits and different people.
Finding a trigger to sit for writing helps immensely to make it a habit. It could be your morning tea/coffee, a certain kind of music, or maybe a night walk after dinner, whatever works for you.
Celebrate Small Wins
Do you pat yourself on the back? It may sound a bit awkward but, I think, you should do it when you feel like an achiever. There are many equivalents of 'patting your own back', like, take yourself for a car ride, get chocolate, cake, or a movie?
These are the ways to celebrate your win and accomplishment. Reward yourself for publishing your first blog article, for getting visibility, likes, comments, etc. You truly deserve that. Celebrating a small win makes you ready for the next one, and for a major accomplishment.
Plan: You got to have it, in your own way
Planning is the process of thinking about the activities required to achieve the desired goal.
A plan not only helps in writing consistently but also, writing better articles. When you have a plan, you think ahead, considering possible distractions and limitations. You have a relaxed mind to work on your article on a planned day, time, and topic.
I would highly recommend a tool like Notion to plan out your articles. You can set reminders, make alterations, change status, and lots of other useful things.
Everyone needs Motivation
Motivationis the reason for people's actions, willingness, and goals.
It is hard to continue a habit if it is lacking motivation. Find what motivates you to write? What makes you think about your next article? Motivation is a great catalyst to make you consistent and sharp as a Technical Writer.
There is a small problem though and you should be mindful about it. At times, a motivation factor may stress you out and even can demotivate you. For example, if you get motivated with the number of
likes in your article, would you be demotivated if you do not get the same for three successive articles? Hence chose your motivation factor wisely.
If you do all that we have discussed so far, but not having fun or enjoying what you are doing as a technical writer, please take a pause and rethink. There must be something wrong. You need to enjoy your work. It is your creation and should feel very proud of it.
Share your work within a community, social media. Get into a discussion if you find people are commenting about it. Build a network with like-minded people and move on.
Health is Wealth
At times, hard work may come at a cost. Unfortunately, it could be stress, tension, not taking enough breaks, not understanding you are tired both mentally and physically. Be careful about it.
Health comes first. Do not break your exercise schedule for anything(again a habit). The more you take breaks, make your body responded to the workouts, the more your brain and mind work for anything creative.
As you know the 'how' part now, you should be aware of some of the possible distractors to stop you from writing consistently. Knowing them is equally important.
Who are you Comparing with?
Do you know, there are 600 million blogs world-wide(while writing this article)? Even if I take 1% of that number It will be 60k. Then who are you comparing with or maybe competing with?
Your comparison should be with yourself, with your own writing, between your current article and the old ones. You need to improve by doing that. You shouldn't be getting into a comparison mode such that, 'He/she is doing, I have to do'. This thought is evil and may lead you to many disappointments.
Rush vs No Rush
Here is a quick story. Once I wrote 3 articles back to back days and published them instantly over an extended weekend. But what happened in the following week is, I got very much occupied with things that, no trigger worked for me to write. I was so upset because I wanted to publish at least one article a week and couldn't.
That incident made me learn not to rush about my articles. I understood my frequency is at least an article a week and a max of two. I can work very well with that.
Do not rush on writing and publishing. You may find it joyful temporarily but, may not give you back much in the long run. As you have planned your frequency and mode, try to go by that as much as possible. That way, your readers also be aware of when to expect your article.
Procrastination & Exception
Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something.
If you have ever postponed your writing saying, I'll do it in the evening, tomorrow, or Sunday morning, you are Procrastinating! Don't do that. Tell yourself, if I get done with it at the scheduled time, I'll get to do something else later with a peaceful mind.
Procrastination doesn't give you peace, it gives you stress rather. So it is always wise to stay away from it as much as possible.
On the other hand,
exceptions can happen. You may not be able to write at your scheduled time always. It is ok to skip but with one condition. You must take note of why are you making an exception to skip and try your best to avoid that reason in the future.
Handling Feedback and Criticism
This is a tough one and I'm still learning! Not able to handle negative feedback or any pointed criticism may make you demotivated. As a writer, you need to understand that, you are a writer, not a mind reader.
Your job is to create a quality article that you think best as per your capacity. If that article gets many negative comments, take note of it and revisit them a few times. The more you read them, the more chances that, you will understand what is wrong on your part. Ignoring is not a solution.
When it comes to writing, the content is the king. We can follow some consistencies for your content and how to make it available to the readers.
Try maintaining a uniform content structure as much as possible. You are the best person to create that structure and stick to it. Here are a few things I do to make sure I have content consistency,
- Use the cover photo that relates to what the content is about.
- All of your blog visitors read at least the title of your articles. I try using the title structure as, "How to ...", "What is...", "Why should...", "10 ways...", etc. This may not be possible always though.
Always have an
introductionsection. I may or may not have an explicit heading for it but, I make sure to introduce the topic to my readers. Here are a few examples:
Consistency in how to end an article. This is important because you may want to let your readers know what to expect next. It is possible to do if writing is a habit already and you have planned it ahead.
Frequency & Timing
Decide a frequency to write and publish an article. Go with the pace that suits you. Do not rush unnecessarily. While frequency(daily, weekly, once in a week) important, the timing is also important.
Sit with writing when you find yourself fresh, relaxed, and undisturbed from the regular activities. In general, I write an article at a go and then, proofread it to edit multiple times before publishing. Go by the style that suits you the best.
Community & Social Media
Being part of a community and hooking yourself into the social media platforms(like Twitter, Linkedin, etc) helps you on growing the audience base. However, being consistent is the key here too.
Write and share your articles in a frequent manner within the community like HashNode. Most of the time, the community takes the extra mile to share your content over social media platforms. You enjoy visibility, feedback, etc.
Have some routine to share your articles(and others from the community) over a platform like twitter. At the same time, do not overdo it.
You Can Do It!
There is really not much to follow. It is all about to make writing part of your routine and enjoy it to write consistently. The more you write consistently, the more you become a good writer. The more you become a good writer who produces quality content, the more you are known by others.
You can do it. Give it a try, if you are not doing it already.
This article is the outcome of my talk in the
HashNode Bootcamp. I hope you have enjoyed our interaction if you were part of the bootcamp session. In case, you missed it, this article may help you to catch up on the points we have discussed.
Thank you very much for reading. You may also like,
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Feel free to @ me on twitter(@tapasadhikary) for any discussion or comment.
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Hey Tapas, Great piece here, I completely agree with your points especially with the one of celebrating small wins . I started writing blog a week ago , when I published my first blog which has around 30 view(which is not much) but it just gave a nudge to write my second article.
Thanks Tapas Adhikary, great article! I definitely feel more motivated to write. However, I can realistically probably publish an article once every two weeks. Do you have any advice for any other specific groups or communities to join for motivation and topics to continue writing after the Bootcamp?
Hello Julie Khov,
Thanks for reading this article, appreciate it.
I definitely feel more motivated to write.
That's great. As you have the urge to write, you will start well and then do well. Keep it up.
However, I can realistically probably publish an article once every two weeks.
I think that's fine to start with. A frequency of once in a week you can target later. If once in every two weeks suits your schedule now, please get started with that.
Do you have any advice for any other specific groups or communities to join for motivation and topics to continue writing after the Bootcamp?
I would suggest continuing to be part of the HashNode community as a learner and contributor. This is a great place to be in and many of us have that realization already.
You should follow the tags and writers of your interest. Build a habit of reading articles from them and participate in comments whenever you can. You would gradually feel comfortable about your own writing too.
Another place is twitter but to focus on the right thing as it may kill your valuable time. Follow people of your interest and learn from them.
I wish you all the best and looking forward to reading your future articles.