“Sidedish” Writing

Technology goes hand in hand with content.  Lots of content.  And that content has to be written, and I’ve got to write it – at least some of it.  So where can I find inspiration? 

I would suggest that rather than looking to outside sources for topics, I start with myself – my “sidedish” writing.  That would be all the writing I do incidentally – updates to social media websites, e-mails to colleagues in the relevant field, chats with geeky friends.  I use the term “sidedish” because I think of it as analogous to the sidedish you eat along with your lunch – you didn’t go there to eat it but you do because you’re there.  Tidbits from these casual conversations can be channeled into “main dish” writing , which I would characterize as whatever you’ve committed yourself to write on a regular basis that you hope will impress someone else.

Accordingly, a favor I can do for myself is to increase the quality and quantity of my sidedish writing.  Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

find sites that encourage frequent updates:  I find that Twitter is useful in this regard for the simple reason that it generates a log of all the updates I’ve made.  Since I’m on Twitter, I can go back to that clever update I posted two weeks ago and use it to seed a post.  Any site would work that encouraged me to return to it frequently and write quick notes about what’s on my mind.

make friends with people who like to geek out: I want to write about technology, so I seek out friends who enjoy talking about technology.  Not only are they great resources for answering questions, they bring out my geeky side, and I generate higher quality content when I’m communicating with them.

take advantage of any passionate interest:  When I am passionately interested in something, regardless of whether it is related to my main topic, I research it and write about it.  Writing will come more easily to me if I do it more often.  If I’m already in the habit of following up on my passionate interest, I will be more likely to do the same when I am writing about my main topic and less likely to keep going with something that’s actually boring me.

tag content – email conversations, chats, etc: If I properly archive my materials, it will make finding relevant clips of content that much easier to find.  Gmail allows tagging of email conversations rather than placing them in folders.  I provide myself with an index to my own thoughts so I can draw on them when I need them.

Improving the quality of these incidental conversations is valuable in and of itself.  Properly archived, they will be a source of self-generated leads.  When I am looking for a seed for my serious writing, that can turn my “sidedish” into a satisfying main “meal.”

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