Geeks With Blogs

Joe Mayo

Responding to a tweet I received, asking if I found it hard to write a blog and keep it interesting. This is one of the situations where a 140 character response doesn’t do a question justice. There’s a lot to think about between the subjects of writing, subject matter, and entertainment.  Here’s my take on each of these three topics:

There’s all types of writing you can do with various degrees of difficulty. If you’re writing a book and you have a gazillion editors bleeding over your every utterance, then the task becomes harder because you’re second-guessing yourself, not knowing whose opinion will be violated. However, if you’re communicating in a public forum, not too many people care about the grammar as much as whether what you have to say is correct.  For a blog, I would say it’s somewhere in-between.  Right now, I’m using Windows Live Writer, which gives me a few advantages to just typing into the blog editor, such as spelling correction and the ability to save my work and resume later.  Overall, writing is one of those things that you just need to get used to.  It’s an essential skill for developers because you need to document your work, depending on what your definition of proper documentation is, and communicate with other developers via various communications mediums. Not beign good (or not thinking that you’re good) shouldn’t hold you back.  Like most things in life, practice will improve your skill.  So, push away that inner voice that keeps you from moving forward and just do it.

A good grasp on the subject matter you’re writing about helps.  However, don’t let a lack of knowledge stop you from writing about something. I recall reading something a while back by a developer who didn’t know a technology but wrote about their experience in learning it. They ended up learning more by expressing their thoughts in writing. If you look around at many blogs today, there are some items written by developers learning what they’re writing about.  So, whether you are sure or unsure, you can still write – just be honest with yourself and your readers about what you’re writing. Also, don’t be afraid to have a different opinion or worry if someone will disagree.  I’ll freely admit that it took a while for me to become accustomed to being criticized. Take the good with the bad and use the bad to make yourself better. Guaranteed, someone will disagree with one or more parts of what I’ve written here or think they have a better approach. No problem, more power to them, and whatever constructive comments they have will be a benefit to me in the future; Otherwise, to h*ll with them. :)  Every time you get knocked down, get right back up, dust the dirt off your backside, and keep moving forward.  You’ll learn in time how to align a subject with your own presentation of the material.

Entertainment could be hard or could be natural, depending on the personality of yourself and your target audience. It’s even more challenging because you can say something you think is funny and someone will be offended. In fact, there are a lot of things that you shouldn’t say in the name of a joke, but I won’t mention any of them here for want of not offending anyone. Of course, I probably offended someone by saying that and there is probably an organization somewhere in the world out to get me now. I’m probably not the best person to be giving you advice on entertaining an audience.  I mean, every time I try to tell a joke on Twitter 10 people unfriend me. Okay, maybe 15, but you get my point. One thing you might be interested in knowing is that it’s not too hard for one technical person to entertain other technical people, especially when the subject is of interest.  It’s the excitement in each sentence and passion in each paragraph that will keep another developer entertained and interested in what you have to say. Not everyone will like what you’ve written, but the important part is to find your own voice and it’s likely that there is one person in some corner of the world that likes what you have to say, even if it’s your mom and she doesn’t understand a single word you write. :)

If I could leave you with one final thought; Just do it and don’t let anyone or anything hold you back.


Posted on Friday, March 12, 2010 2:17 PM Blogging | Back to top

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