A question I've been getting asked a lot is: "Have you always written that much? How do you approach writing? How do you get into the mode?" Usually, when I get this question, I answer it straight away with a direct message; But I figured: Why not make this question the content of a post?
I want to start with the most fundamental principle of becoming a productive writer: publishing. It's probably the only true secret behind my myriad articles to date: Daring to seek an achievable scope and hitting the submit button, exposing my thoughts to the world and feeling vulnerable. Now, can you be a successful writer without ever publishing? Absolutely: Franz Kafka, maybe the greatest author of all time, seldomly published his work, and much of it was actually released posthumously by a close friend of his.
However, from my point of view: you'll have to dare publish your thoughts somehow. It's because you'll only do the hard work of committing to scope when you truly post and hence feel a little embarrassed.
Look: The hard part of writing isn't stringing words together or coming up with a good-sounding paragraph or two. Like in other creative mediums, writing is about better understanding yourself, how you can work with language and how much work you can handle without going crazy.
See, if I were suddenly gifted the entire world's time to focus on writing, I'd totally want to dostoyevsky myself into a new universe. I'd start grand - epic with no end in sight. But from my experience as a blogger, I also know that this is as unrealistic as it is foolish. I'd go crazy because if you practice the craft, you know how unhappy one can be with a formerly written paragraph read with fresh eyes. Editing cannot go on forever.
So writing, as I'd like to teach it in this post: It's achievable through regular publishing, and it's why this website's called "Proof in Progress," as I've accepted my incapability of ever publishing anything definitive or comprehensive. "Proof in Progress" that's a website filled with articles mostly written in one sitting, with little time spent editing - it shows, but that's OK because I'm productive.
The second principle of writing I'd like to point out is its potency: Its power to transfer thought and ideas. It's permanence. Writing; that's daring to expose some intrinsic state of your brain into the atoms of the universe for everyone to observe.
It's a ridiculous thing to communicate but speaking your mind; telling others how you see the world is so fundamental to our social existence: you'll doubt its effects at first.
One such inspiring encounter I had roughly a year ago when starting to work with Hito Steyerl, a renowned essayist and filmmaker. Working as the software engineer on one of her projects, as with other customers, we had regular calls to sync up on our work's status. But there was an additional, and what people now call a "parasocial" relationship that I curiously developed through working with her.
It started with Youtube recommending me her previous talks on other topics, and it is probably the closest I've come to an actual "brain dump" - ingesting many of her ideas and her viewpoint without ever having a bilateral conversation with her.
While this is somewhat awkward to admit, and maybe it's also not an exactly attractive proposition for becoming a productive writer - having been working at the forefront of technology, feeling lonely about the challenges I face is a defacto existential threat to my career and well-being. Either I can make myself understood clearly, or there's a good chance others think I'm just crazy. Hence, once the words are out and you've managed to express yourself - not only is there power in the permanent availability of your prior argument; but you may also feel more at peace with the world.
For once, because you can always reference back to your text, but secondly, because there's a fair chance your friends and colleagues are actually reading what you're saying and so they won't confront you on past arguments anymore.
But you won't become a renowned writer overnight, and for me, there are always idols to look up to: Today, it's those that can write much more verbosely and those that have arguably more patience and trust in themselves to commit to more. In fact, it's probably foolish to suggest that I've become a "productive writer" and that this article can teach you to reach that final form. But looking at the texts I published, the feedback I got, and the self-confidence I observed, I can safely say that I've improved and that I've found a process that puts me on an interesting trajectory.
Writing, as running, coding, working, and self-care: It's a habit that needs to be established through frequent practice. I identify as a writer because I purposefully write and because I've made it a craft of personal self-improvement. I don't necessarily write for you, the audience. I couldn't because, sorry, not sorry; you can't make me happy enough. When you disagree with me, when you call me a fool, or you poke holes into my theories - I feel terrible, and I certainly wouldn't want to serve you more. So I fundamentally don't write for others: I write for myself and because I like committing to the process and the feelings it invokes. That's why I've committed to the process of writing.
And that's it for today: It's these three criteria that can make you a productive writer: (1) To publish, (2) Realizing the power that lies in writing, and (3) understanding why you're committing yourself to this process.
Certainly, in case you consider yourself a writer too, you may feel like these points don't represent your approach: And that's fine. I'm not here to describe the ideal writer or a definitive approach; rather, with this text, I've tried summarizing the principles that lead me to publish frequently as I trust in the reader's capability of transferring this knowledge onto their life, circumstances, and background.
So dear reader and potential future writer: I look forward to reading what you'll have to say!