writing

Writing tip: Just say what you mean

Somewhere around the year 2006, my writing style was influenced by the CIO of a company I was working with. When trying to get a new project started, a project manager gave me a very vague description of what he wanted, and as a result, the cost estimate and Statement of Work I wrote (so I would get paid) was vague as well.

The CIO called me to her office, and then told me that I didn’t have to write anything fancy, I just had to “say what I mean.” Since then, that simple approach has been a key to my writing style.

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement.

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

~ Winston Churchill

Writing at the beach alvin April 4, 2017 - 6:36pm

I’ve made some good progress on my new book on Scala and functional programming recently. For whatever reason I had been having writer’s block, so I came out to the beach for a little while to help clear out my brain, and today in particular was very productive. For a while now I’ve known how the book would end, but I was having a problem getting from where I was to the end, and I got through most of that today.

In a slightly related note, here’s a blurry photo of a military ship out on the ocean.

“Constipated thinking”

When editing my own writing I like to write “constipated thinking” or just “constipated” on some of my text that clearly deserves it (as an homage to the movie, Finding Forrester).

The “reduce, reduce, reduce” mantra applied to writing alvin February 23, 2017 - 3:31pm

One philosophy I have about writing technical material is that I want to condense the material as much as possible, to the point where I want people who use yellow highlighters to mark most of what I write. I am one of those people who use yellow highlighters, and I look for that property in books that I read.

This isn’t necessarily true for blog posts that I write, because for these I usually write them pretty fast. But for books, I take the time to review them and look for this quality. This follows the design mantra, “reduce, reduce, reduce.”

Do not fall in love with people like me

“Do not fall in love with people like me. I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments, and kiss you in every beautiful place, so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth. I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.”

~ Caitlyn Siehl

Leanpub

Leanpub is another way to publish books. From their website:

Leanpub is a powerful platform for serious authors. This platform is the combination of two things: a publishing workflow and a storefront. Leanpub is more than the sum of its parts, however – by combining a simple, elegant writing and publishing workflow with a store focused on selling in-progress ebooks, it’s something different. Leanpub is a magical typewriter for authors: just write in plain text, and to publish your ebook, just click a button.

The Hero’s Journey

If you’ve never heard of The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia states that it’s a “common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.” The concept was originally introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in 1949. This image comes from thewritersjourney.com.