From IndieWeb

Writing was a session at IndieWebCamp Brighton 2024.

Notes archived from: https://etherpad.indieweb.org/writing

IndieWebCamp Brighton 2024
Session: Writing
When: 2024-03-09 17:00



James: what writing means, how to get started writing. one thing I've learned when writing for myself/others: writing can be what you want it to be. calendar/word count. lots of advice comes from a good place but not applicable to web blogs.

Jeremy: to Terrence: how do you write so frequently? (every day)

Terrence: Buy my course! (jk). I don't write every day, usually 2-3 posts on Saturdays, published everyday. e.g. movie reviews, easier to do many in one day. write when you want, publish whenever. Also I have lots of free time! Don't compare yourself to other people. The more I write the more I want to write. 2yrs ago I did masters degree with lots of writing; dissertation writing vs 'I thought this, what do you think?'. I love some of the things I've written but get no hits, bad stuff gets loads of hits.

Jeremy: can corroborate. Hacker news likes 'pub posts'...

Terrence: don't set 1000-words goals. even if it's good chances are people won't see it. I get a buzz every time someone leave s a comment

Jeremy: I have a tip: the most dangerous writing app.com. choose a time limit (5/10/15 mins), start typing. if you stop writing, the words begin to fade(!) until you hit the time limit, then it gets saved. like bungee jumping initially

Fran: write that 'I'd like to write this thing, and explain this',

Jeremy: 'email friend 'I'd like to explain this topic'..

James: 'how to write a blog post when you can't write blog posts'. having any words on page helps you write more. when you start writing (diary, journal or blog) you start to think what other people find interesting. Re pageviews: What I care about more is if only one person finds it interesting/helpful.

Jeremy: recommend NOT having analytics on your site.

Terrence: academic writer: easier to delete bad words then write good words. Write everything, even if crap, delete then you'll be left with good stuff

Jeremy: Write drunk edit sober

Stream of consciousness (James Joyce style)

Jeremy: 'shitty first drafts' folder. doesn't have to be good. after time becomes 'good enough'

Terrence: external editor (i.e. someone else). you write something and think everyone understands it

  • easy to produce word salad. ELI5

Jeremy: you forget what you used to not know. when people self-censor: 2 reasons: 'I'm not qualified', but then people go and get qualified. 2: 'but then this is obvious, I don't need to write about that'.

  • Everest principle: the person of most use to you is the person three steps ahead.

James: think about how something is communicated. 1000 articles to explain e.g. B-trees in python, not all are helpful. one article with a use case (or whimsical, short, in-depth) helps. think about 'what did you struggle with when learning this thing'?

Terrence: Julia Evans makes zines, illustrations. dialogue is also good (e.g. cat, fox).

Jeremy: workshops: 'you have content/what you want to say; lots of ways to present it' (e.g. dialogue, flashbacks). think about film structures & narratives. Brian Eno prompt cards. Just being with other people writing helps (mutually egging each other on/good social pressure). Sunday hackathon could be writing!

Jon: what do people think about going back & rewriting old posts? feel like I need to produce something new all the time.

Jeremy: sounds like digital garden (Maddie).

Matthew: gardening is less about chronology - I want to edit old posts. e.g. old topics becoming current again - go back to the old one, review it in present day.

Jeremy: Syndicate to yourself? 'this was originally written in 2012; maybe edited'

Matthew: lots of great content stuck in old pages. not 'allowed' to edit?

Jon: just want to share stuff that interests me, keep iterating on.

Jeremy: keep making posts with the same tag helps?

Fran: Moving content around helps (moving off timeline into articles). moving para

  • started with websites that weren't chronological, but Facebook/others made it the norm

Jeremy: pain point: Titles. spent longer making title than the thing itself! some people don't have them at all. I tend to prefer it. Part of low barrier to entry is that you don't have to title thing.

Amar: if title is in slug, it has to be unique!

Fran: I put the title field at the bottom of the post :o but then I made the mistake of putting the description at the top, spent too much time on that.

  • Arrival the film - title card is the final frame.

Matthew: I've been reinventing the way we should write. thinking about newspapers: title, 'stand first' (opening paragraph), body. BBC: if you've read the title you've read the story. repeating works well. Tl;dr being used a lot these days, they work well. Can I write a title that is the story? Can every post have a tl;dr? Write your post in a line, then a paragraph, then the post. Don't try to be clever/avoid mistakes too much.

Terrence: like an abstract in academic papers. Tip from academia: move conclusion to the top, then give reasoning. Hackernews will link to very literature-style posts; sometimes you just want a short summary at the top. do you want to take the reader on a journey, or give information? people have different thresholds to 'long'

Jeremy: At work, 100 days exercise, one thing new every day, (e.g. sketch a monster). mine was about words (100 words a day). I made it fun by writing exactly 100 words (not 99/101). Helped that I didn't need to think of a title ('100 words day 1')

Terrence: helps to have limitations/constraints.

James: I've done 3 'series' of posts on my blog: that I have things to say, but need motivation. e.g. for 25 days, wrote about other people's blogs. pretty stressful, haven't since done it. then did 24 days of technical writing. I didn't do it one year cause I didn't know what to write about - have to have a topic. re. titles: I can't write anything without a title, helps me to avoid going off a tangent (Fran: guardrails). e.g. writing styles in technical writing: titled 'Style' (TS reference!). Without that prompt I would have struggled. I can change the title, means I've found out what I want to say.

Jeremy: before: you have ideas/opinions, you write them. now: I write to find out my opinion on things.

Terrence: a form of self-therapy. Beatles documentary: Paul McCartney try to write 'get back' - why doesn't he know what the next line should be??? I'm not like paul but watching other creators do things helps. With 'yesterday' the original lyrics were bad, but once you have structure you can fill in the rest. 'This is a paragraph that will explain the thing'

Veronica: curious to know: do people feel satisfied with what they write? can split into 2 people: the technical writer - have 0 problems writing this. vs writing personal stuff: always bad. I never revisit/re-read book reviews - I erase the previous review - the person who wrote that isn't me.

  • do you mean writing or publishing? I write every day in a diary, the world doesn't need to know that! who needs another hot take?

Jeremy: true of anything we've ever written. I'm writing for myself. the reader in mind is 'me who hasn't yet had that idea'. if I thought about other people reading this I couldn't do it.

Veronica: I think personal stuff has to be perfect

Sam: ephemeral websites, delete personal stuff you no longer agree with

Amar: who do you write for? client, family friends? how do you avoid thinking about people reading your stuff?

Fran: took a long time to stop caring about what you put 'out there'. I made it a point not to delete them...

Jeremy/Jon: stop caring about what other people think. however structure, ease of reading is also true!

James: took a lot of writing to be able to read what I've written. people started to be really nice! now, esp for technical writing, I'm used to constructive feedback. only sometimes I ask friend to proofread it.

Terrence: depends on what you're writing about. 'vote for XXX' - you'll get some angry people. 'why I don't like JavaScript' - you get some angry people but not dangerous/wrong

Jeremy: if I'm only writing about me, how can anyone say it's incorrect?

Veronica: my fear of putting out personal stuff comes from school. I liked to put out stories but high school teachers criticized my work. need to get over that voice in my head.

Jeremy: everyone has an inner critic, just need to quieten it

Veronica: inner critic is useful to avoid writing BS but needs to be constructive. Instagram helps my mum avoid reading it!

Jeremy: you should really email people to say you liked that post. be that person.

Matthew: draft post: personal terms & conditions ('manuals of me'). we need our own. 'this is what a like from me means'. 'if you send a text I might not reply'. I've started only commenting to say thanks! it's a nice process.

Terrence: don't sent voice notes haha

Fran: women on the web more likely to get negative comments/mansplaining. bar is higher for then.

Matthew: Dan Hon: 'do not mansplain' cards

(end of session)

James: happy to review written work tomorrow!

See Also