David Nicholas Williams
I turn ideas into products

Tips for making writing more fun

Over time I've collected a bunch of self-discovered tips for how to make blog posts more fun to write and to read.

I thought I'd publish these mostly as a self-reminder to scan read before sitting down to write something, but also in the hope that it's useful for others too.

Don't caveat, just say it

You can so easily turn a one sentence point into a paragraph by caveating it. This is not fun to write nor read, especially if many would-be sentences are now paragraphs droning on and on about ifs and buts.

I think there are two common causes for caveating. The first is the point is bad and you want to protect yourself from looking foolish later. If this is the case, just delete the point. The second is the point is good and you want to protect it from would-be detractors or nitpickers by getting out in front of them. If this is the case, see the next point.

Write for the reader you want

When you post writing anywhere online with a comments section, you'll generally see most comments be disagreements or nitpicks. You'll sometimes see one or two comments saying something like "thanks, I needed to read this".

Always write for that reader. Make your writing snappy and fun for them. Get them that valuable information, don't dilute it with caveats and defensive writing. That is, never write to convince the former readers, because you cannot. The space of objections and nitpicks is infinite, and someone will always find one. So making your writing less fun to read by trying to get ahead of this is pointless - just don't even attempt it.

Assume readers know the basics or will look them up

Cut out explanations of stuff you're about to write about. The danger zone for these is introductory paragraphs. One of the beautiful things about reading on the internet is that google is just a click away. Readers know that and use it - you don't need to give them your own inferior primer or glossary. Using simple language is great, but knowledge of the basic concepts of what you're writing about should be assumed. It's incredibly boring to review them for the majority of readers.

Stay on-topic

When you're writing about something, write about it. Everything is full of interesting sidebars, but sidebars like caveats just make for boring reading for someone who's presumably there for the title topic.

Most sidebars in writing are ultimately you letting the audience know that you know the wider scope of what you're writing about so they don't nitpick you on it. Avoid that posturing, nobody gets anything out of it. You're here to write about a thing you find interesting, it's perfectly OK to mention something related or leave a point unexplored and just move on.

Publish incomplete posts

Sometimes blog post ideas are just bad and if you've banged your head against it for half an hour and nothing at all good is resulting, sure, trash it. But for everything else just hit publish even though it doesn't feel like a complete post yet.

For me personally the biggest blocker here is finishing. It's usually quite fun and easy to hammer out the main point of a post, but it can be surprisingly difficult to then neatly round it off. Instead of leaving posts as a boring todo chore in the drafts folder, it's perfectly fine to just stop cold and publish if a wrap up doesn't flow naturally.

Honestly, nobody cares. The fun part's done, and most readers will detect the wrap up section of a post and will usually stop reading there anyway.