My Writing Habits
During my PhD I wrote systematically. In my lab journal , later in my digital lab journal , plus papers , e-mail , etc. After my Ph.D. I started with Python for the Lab , which forced me to keep generating content, although in a completely different way. Writing became an end in itself and not just a manifestation of something else I was doing.
This all changed when I started Dispertech . Writing is not my main focus anymore, but is something that I still wanted to keep cultivating. After all, I do believe that writing may be the most undervalued skill of this decade. I always enjoyed putting things out there for other to find and make use of.
We all know how to write, but not everyone knows how to write well. And there is no deeper secret but to exercise it. I have seen people forcing (or claiming to) themselves to sit down to write 1 or 2 hours a day, while they still have plenty of other activities in their lives. Therefore, I would distrust any advice coming from them. For most of us, writing is something that happens next to all the important things of the day.
Sense of Purpose
What really helped me to develop writing habits is to have a sense of purpose . That is why the idea of a digital garden was instantaneously attractive to me. The things I write will be published and available to anyone. The things I think about, the books I read, podcasts I listen to, everything can be discovered by anyone. These were the guiding principles for how i built this website .
The crucial part of the writing exercise is to have a commitment . In my case, I chose to have a daily commitment. Every morning I write something down, even if small. I write down what podcast I've listened to, or if I thought about something the previous day. It does not really matter.
Sometimes ideas flow, and I can keep writing for several minutes, sometimes it ends up being a very small note. In any case I wrote something, there was progress. Especially with podcasts, it allows me to remember where I heard something, which creates not only a sense of purpose, but a sense of utility .
During the day, it may happen that I am exposed to some other ideas or topics. I may read something on the newspaper, or on a forum. I may even read a paper or book chapter for something work related. If anything triggers a thought, I try to write it down. Sometimes on the spot, sometimes in the margins of the page and I transfer it at a later stage.
This does not happen every day, not even every week. But I seize the opportunity when it does.