My Craft of Writing

My work has changed a lot over the last couple of years. I am no longer in front of a class teaching courses that are provided to me. Since 2015, my main work is writing, producing blog posts, analytical articles and training materials. I end up writing thousands of word per week and thought I’d share a little about my process.


First off, most of my writing is done in Word and the drafts are stored on Dropbox. I have an in-progress writing folder and I name files starting with their due date, where it is for and the title. This post is named “2016-02-08 D The Art of Writing.docx.” This naming standard lets me sort the folder by file name to see what is due when so I can prioritize work. Using Dropbox and Word means that I can edit on the Mac Air at home, the MacBook Pro at the office, my Windows 7 VDI desktop, or my iPad while I’m at the library. Word is overkill since I am really only editing plain text. But Word is ubiquitous and some of my work is submitted as Word documents.

I find that productive writing is all about my state of mind. I often don’t start writing if there are a lot of organization things or other issues in my head. These thoughts will take over and I won’t be productive writing. To take away distractions, I often go to my local public library to write. Library’s are quiet, fairly comfortable, and you can stay there for quite a while without obligation. Coffee shops are also good productive places, but personally, I am unable to sit for an hour on one cup of coffee.

One big surprise is that I have to use paper. When I have some content I will print it out and read it over. The printed copy is always 1.5 spaced, so there is space for me to write notes. I mark up changes with a red pen and I will write additional sentences or ideas on the printed copy. I’ve tried to do this on the iPad or laptop but always find I lose the flow of the article and get caught up in making changes. The only way I can make sure the whole articles flows and makes sense is with a paper copy.

The next thing is that I try to be a better writer. Getting the grammar and spelling right. I use two free services for this, the first is Grammarly. This is a web app that checks for a heap of common grammatical errors. I use the free tier but will probably buy the premium tier soon. The second service I use is Hemmingway which is all about readability. This one helps me with my tendency to write very long sentences. These two applications together help make my finished writing easier to read. Easier for my editors to get to publication.
There are many ways to write, this is what works for me. If you are starting out then don’t worry about the process too much. The most important thing is to have something to write about. Capturing and ordering your thoughts is the most important part, the rest can follow.

© 2016, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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