Why I Blog


I think blogging is massively undervalued.

What I get out of blogging

I can write whatever I want. Few spaces on the Internet are just for you anymore, especially if you don't own the platform. There's something delightfully freeing about having my own space and being able to write about whatever I want.

It improves my writing. Consistent deliberate practice on a schedule will do that. The public nature of blogging helps, since I'm forced to think through each word and ask whether it's clear enough for the general reader.

It improves my thinking. Writing is a thinking tool. It forces murky ideas into the sun where I can see and reshape them. Clearer writing means clearer thinking.

It flushes out old ideas. Paul Graham puts it well: "Writing doesn't just communicate ideas; it generates them." I've stumbled on spaces I wouldn't have seriously considered otherwise.

I get feedback. I can share what I'm thinking about with friends and give them time to think about it. Conversation is too fast for that, and maybe someone's not in the mood to talk about Gmail workflows or my topic du jour.

Maybe it'll be wildly successful. Who knows? I get enough out of it anyway. But for many people, blogging has led to job offers, friendships, business partners, relationships, and wonderful opportunities. The only way to find out what I might get is to try.

Why I stayed away until now

  • I felt I had nothing new to say. I mainly blog for me, so I don't worry about it. Also, I now think that the idea of having nothing new to say is self-defeating. Maybe I have nothing to say now, but who knows what the future will bring? And when I do have something to say, I want to be ready.

  • I don't like being so public-facing. I still don't. But if that's the price of influence and feedback, so be it. I don't like the idea of being data-mined, but if I speak up for my values, maybe I can help change the conversation.

  • I felt I had to be perfect. I still have that lingering feeling, but if what I care about is outstanding work, iterating repeatedly is the better way to go.

  • I didn't set enough time aside to start. It was only when I timed myself writing that I realized how long it takes me to write something.

  • "Blogging" sounds so goofy. Yes.

The social benefits (yes, really)

  • Anyone can read it. Why write an email that a handful of friends would read when I can create something public that anyone could share and enjoy? Even if I'm talking about something basic, maybe I'll write about it in just the right way that it clicks with somebody else.

  • I encourage others to post too. Habits are social, and I like the idea of a world where we all sharpen our thinking, own our own spaces, and share our ideas with each other.

Credit where credit is due

Here are successful people who first put the seed of writing/blogging into my head:

Process and writing principles

Here are the process principles I try to follow:

  • Write every day. The discipline of it is part of having a professional mindset.

  • Publish. If I think a post didn't turn out well, too bad — it's going out. Not every result will be great, but I'm sure I'll hit on some gems with enough practice.

Here are the writing principles I try to follow:

  • The reader is busy and wants information. Get to the point. Make it scannable.

  • Write for someone specific. If it's an idea I find pretty, I write for me. Otherwise, I visualize talking to one of my friends, which helps me clarify the style and presentation.

  • Set a timer. I've noticed I tend to take a while when writing a post. So from now on I'll try writing to a timer. This post took 46 minutes.