Ask a DZone Editor: How Do I Write More?
No matter how great of a writer you are, writing more often will make you better. If you'd like to write more, but don't think you have the time, check out these tips.
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Lots of folks want to write more. Writing about the projects you're working on is a great learning tool, and blogging about them can help you grow your reputation as a developer. Not to mention, it's satisfying to teach others and to share what you know with your community.
Still, it can be really hard to sit down and commit a block of your day to writing — and really easy to tell yourself, "I have too much work to do," or "I'm too tired." The same is true whether you're writing a tutorial for a company blog, writing documentation, or even writing in a personal journal. I've collected a few tips here.
Write at the Same Time, Every Day
The force of habit is incredibly strong, and you can use it to your advantage. Figure out a time of day when you can afford to set aside a few minutes to write. When you sit down, decide what you're going to work on, then set a timer. Write for that amount of time (half an hour or forty-five minutes, for example), then get up, stretch, and move on to other things. Lots of writers choose to write in the early morning, before they start the day, but if you find yourself getting bursts of mental energy at night, you could try writing then. The important thing is to do it at the same time every day, and to build a habit for yourself.
Write in the Same Space
Part of establishing a habit is setting up an environment you enjoy. Whether it's a well-designed writing app or a beanbag under a window with lots of light, find a space that's clean, comfortable, and will minimize distractions. Experiment with different setups! The object is to condition yourself to write consistently.
Write With Others
As developer Elsa Gonsiorowski recommends, find a writing buddy! You can help each other stay accountable to your goals. Plus, having a buddy just makes writing more fun. To find and talk to like-minded folks in real life, try attending a local Meetup group. There may be a Women Who Code or TechBreakfast chapter in your area, for example.
You could also join a Slack group devoted to writing about tech. Slack groups are great places to share projects you're working on, ask for advice, and connect with other devs who are also trying to write more.
Keep Track of Your Streaks
"Writing more" isn't a trackable metric, but writing every day is. Track your writing time using a tool like 750words.com. 750words is a personal writing platform that records how many words you write per day, how often you get distracted, and how fast you write — giving you really cool data about yourself over time.
As Mattan Griffel writes on his blog, "Specificity matters. If you want to change your behavior, you have to know how to measure it."
Use Prompts When You Need Inspiration
Keep a running list of writing prompts that you can refer back to on those days when you just don't know what to write. Ask your writing buddy for topics they'd like to see you expand on (for example, your open source contributions, tutorials on your personal projects, thoughts on the latest language you're learning, a writeup of your experiences at a recent conference, and so on). Come up with a list of writing subjects for them, too.
And did you know DZone has a Bounty Board for writing prompts? The prompts are organized by Zones to make it easier for you to find the topics you like the most. Everyone is welcome to "claim a Bounty" and submit an article covering that subject. If it's published on DZone, you'll receive a prize. Here's how it works.
Good luck! Daily writing will almost certainly make you a better writer. The hardest part is keeping the habit going, but as you can see, there are hacks to make it easier.
Do you have other tips for starting and maintaining a daily writing habit? Let me know in the comments!
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