Category: Writing

Ethan Marcotte’s Career Advice

Ethan Marcotte with some succinct, evergreen advice:

Set up a blog somewhere, anywhere, and write as much as you can. If I’m in a position to hire you, I don’t just want to see the quality of your final mockup, your finished set of templates: I want to learn how you got there. I want to read what worked, what didn’t, and the decisions you made along the way.

Ethan said in three-ish sentences what took me an entire column to say.

Robin Rendle on RSS

Robin Rendle has a nice piece on RSS, reading, and writing on the web1. Robin covers some of the ways RSS helped writers find community, and writes about the current state of the RSS ecosystem. He also writes about the benefits to publishing on your own site instead of a platform:

Folks now seem to recognize the value of having your own little plot of land on the web and, although it’s still pretty complex to make your own website and control all that content, it’s worth it in the long run. No one can run ads against your thing. No one can mess with the styles. No one can censor or sunset your writing.

That brought to mind a short blog post from a few years ago by Frank Chimero, “Homesteading”. The original is no longer linked on his site, but Internet Archive has a snapshot. Frank writes:

I’m returning to a personal site, which flips everything on its head. Rather than teasing things apart into silos, I can fuse together different kinds of content. Instead of having fewer sections to attend to distracted and busy individuals, I’ll add more (and hopefully introduce some friction, complexity, and depth) to reward those who want to invest their time. I won’t use analytics—actually, I won’t measure at all. What would I do with that data anyway? In this case, it’s just more noise. The singular thread that runs through everything is only “because I like it.”

I’ve found it useful to have a little of both as part of my daily reading: it’s nice to interact with folks on-the-fly via Twitter, but that’s a different mode than the leisurely exploration of a personal site that feels akin to browsing someone’s bookshelf and sensing the history behind each item. My own RSS habits took a dip a few years ago as my Twitter use peaked, but lately I find myself drawn more and more to RSS, a quieter space that seems to give a better return for my time.

  1. It seems wholly appropriate that I ended up reading Robin’s post because of RSS — I had missed it in the Twitter stream, but I subscribe to Susan J. Robertson’s RSS feed, and she linked to it a few days ago. (I realized that I only followed Robin on Twitter, not via RSS. That’s all fixed now.) 

Joshua Ginter on Developing a Journaling Habit

One of those necessities: altering — or perhaps recognizing — the real definition of “journaling”. Many people associate “journaling” with penning complete thoughts into a pen-and-paper diary. However, “journaling” is really just a synonym for “recording”. You can record thoughts, sure, but you can also record a daily log of events, or fitness regiments, or what you ate for breakfast.

I like a lot of what Joshua shared in terms of his journaling mindset/process. Like Joshua, I have a daily journal that I keep in Day One. I found that setting a schedule helped build momentum early on (I have a reminder set for 10:30 pm, but these days I’ve usually written something before that goes off). Another thing that was helpful was setting no limit on subject or length: an entry could be about anything, and as little as one word.

Clips iOS clipboard

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s post: I found Clips, which functions as a system-wide, multi-item clipboard system on iOS. It works pretty well once you activate it as an alternate keyboard. The only point of friction I’ve encountered is that there’s no keyboard shortcut to toggle from the regular keyboard to the Clips one when […]

Writing on the iPad

A few observations after writing every night on the iPad for the last week or so: The lack of multi-tasking is a blessing (even if it’s also a bit of a pain). I find that I pick a task, finish it, and move on to the next thing. Tonight I wrote two emails, then I […]

Nicely Said

Nicely Said is the new book on writing by Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee. It’s fantastic and you should go get it. Writing about writing is not an easy task, but Nicole and Kate have managed to craft a book that is practical, funny, and full of empathy, the kind that stands as a […]

Thank You, Editorially

Last week Editorially shut down. I kept using it until the bittersweet end, working on an article for A List Apart. A day before the shutdown I flipped that document’s status to “Final”, exported my data, and debated whether to delete my account or not. I left it alone, with the small hope that everything […]