Why I write

A bit about my personal philosophy

Writing is a bit of a pain in the arse.

Building a cohesive narrative out of a web of ideas, editing it down into something not terrible, researching and getting facts straight, putting it out there, and wondering what people will think and take away... it's a bit of effort. It's a bit uncomfortable.

It's very worthwhile.

In this article, I want to tell you a little bit about why I have decided to prioritize writing.

(I also want to remind myself why it's a priority because sometimes it does slip off the ol' todo list. Being human is hard sometimes.)

I write to to remember

I am a learner of things. I learn through reading, from others, and through experimentation, and first-hand experience. Memory is a wile thing. It's worthwhile building habits around hardening your own knowledge in different ways.

Connecting ideas with other ideas, categorizing ideas, and finding the links and commonalities between different fields is known to improve memory and understanding.

This is one way to apply a learning technique called "elaboration". Through writing, I am better able to integrate facts with my prior knowledge.

I write to refine my thinking

There's something magical about constructing a narrative/explanation/argument and writing it down. It forces you to make sure the ideas you are trying to get across cohere and follow each other, and it allows you to see your own thinking from a third-person point of view.

This is especially true if you know other people with differing opinions are going to read your stuff.

By writing, I can better spot the cracks in my logic. Where am I making leaps? Where do I expect the reader to have excessive prior knowledge? What is wishful thinking? What needs a reference?

I write to impact

When I was a wee queerling I was pretty depressed. I had to dig deep to find reasons to get up in the morning. The reason I found was impact.

If I know that I'm making some positive waves in the world then I can withstand quite a lot.

As I grew older I held onto that. Impact is just about everything to me.

I hope to make an impact through writing. I have a lot of niche knowledge at the intersection of tech and education. The people who learn through the systems I have built tend to do really well.

There are a lot of people in the world who are passionate about tech-ed but don't quite know where to start. There are a lot of wheels being reinvented and a lot of pitfalls being rediscovered the world over. Good people with good intentions and high potential are being set back.

I hope that I can help out by sharing some of what I know.

If you take the time and develop the expertise to teach the right things well then you can really change lives. It's a beautiful thing. Teaching the teachers and the system-builders is much higher leverage.

This is going to be a process.

I know that it'll take me a while to gain momentum on this, and there are all sorts of skills I still need to learn. But I'm here, and I'm doing this.

I write to get through hard times

Tim Ferris advises that you build a diverse identity. The idea is that if you have a bunch of things that you care about, and one of those things falls over, then you don't fall over.

For example, if you are good at your job, rock climbing, and being a great partner and you are having trouble with your job, you can still feel like you are doing alright in some ways. On the other hand, if your identity is all tied up in one thing, then if that one thing is going badly, you'll have a tough time.

I tend to get my identity all tied up in one thing.

I am in a fortunate position in that I get to work in a field I care greatly about. Education is very close to my heart. But when work is going badly (the company is scaling up, this comes with painful teething issues) then I tend to get pretty down.

I've tried diversifying my identity by collecting random skills and hobbies. But when work isn't going well then I look at those things as distractions that really don't matter at all.

So Tim's advice did not work for me.

Instead of going wide, I decided to double down. I am quite happy to hold onto the identity of a tech educator who is making an impact in people's lives. But I want that identity to be decoupled from my day job.

My job just happens to be quite well aligned with what I care about, so I'm luckier than most.

I write to connect

My hope is that through this writing, I can make some positive waves in people's lives. My hope is also that some of those people will get in touch with me.

I'm most active on Mastodon. I'm also on X (aka Twitter). Come say hi 🙂

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