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Writing Is Thinking

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https://alistapart.com/article/writing-is-thinking

alistapart.com

Writing Is Thinking
When you write about your work, it makes all of us smarter for the effort, including you. Done well, this kind of sharing means you're contributing signal, instead of noise. But writers are made, not born. We often hear from people who say they'd love to write for A List Apart or start blogging, but don't know where to start.

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Writing is intimidating. There’s this expectation of artful precision, mercurial grammatical rules, and the weird angst that comes with writing for other people. You start with a tidy nu...

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Writing is Deliberate

Writing is Deliberate
Choosing the words to describe your work means you’re doing it on purpose. 

You’re going on the record as someone who thinks about why they do what they do, and understands how each deci...

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The first draft

The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.

The time you put into editing, reworking and re...

Common errors

Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:

  • Overuse of jargon and business-speak, like "utilize" or "endeavor" instead of "use" or "try."
  • Clichés are stale phrases that have lost their impact and novelty through overuse. If you are used to seeing it in print, don't use it.
  • The passive voice. The subject of the sentence should be the person or thing taking action, not the thing being acted on. "Harry wrote this article," is better than "This article was written by Harry."
  • Rambling. When you are not sure what you want to say, it is easy to phrase it in three or four different ways. A single concise sentence is generally better.

Give it some space

When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.

The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.

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Look Around

Great ideas can’t always be forced, but you can’t just wait for the right mood to write. Take advantage of the world around you for inspiration.

Develop interest in life as you see ...

Find Your Space

Instead of trying to force yourself to write in a specific location, try out a variety of different spaces until you find what works for you. Then, recreate that cozy, creative environment every time you need to write.

Write Now, Edit Later

You can be your worst critic. So, when you’re writing, avoid judging your writing at first. Even experienced writers don’t often crank out a perfect first draft, so setting your expectations too high from the outset is unrealistic (not to mention discouraging).

A good exercise in nonjudgmental writing is to set a timer for 10 minutes and just write down whatever’s on your mind with little regard to what and how it’s written. Even if you need to do research for your writing, build a skeleton that you can add to by writing what you know, and research later. 

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The value of solid writing skills

  • Being a good writer helps you stand out from the crowd.
  • Repeated writing mistakes affect your reputation and credibility in the future.
  • Your writing is ...

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

"Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing.

The “5 Ws + H” method

... for establishing what and how you will write:

  • Who: Who is my audience?
  • What: What do they need to know?
  • When: When does this apply, when did this happen, or when do they need to know it by?
  • Where: Where is this happening?
  • Why: Why do they need this information?
  • How: How should they use this information?

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