Writing FAST

Writing FAST
Photo by Patrick Fore / Unsplash

My current fascination is on the writing process – for noteworthy authors, for bloggers, and for myself. How do writers produce such high quality content? What separates my writing from other big blogs such as Wait But Why or Seth Godin?

Both Tim Urban (from Wait But Why) and Seth Godin are accomplished writers. It's hard to get an exact number for readership, but both have roughly half a million subscribers on Feedly (not too shabby!). But how did they start? Looking at where they are now isn't useful. Looking at where they came from – if we can even glimpse back at this – is where we would find our answer.

Seth alludes to his own creative process in his book The Practice, named after the creative development process of the same name. And I think it's a key one: deliberately practice your craft constantly. Stephen King has been quoted that he aims to write ten pages a day, every day. Seth publishes a blog post every single day (him doing that was inspiration for my 30 day challenge where I did the same).

This is a great look at the macro level, and with any skill you want to work on in general: deliberate practice every day. But what about the micro level?

I think a good starting point is David Perell's 50 Days Of Writing newsletter (my notes on it and links to each day are available on my wiki, but consider subscribing to him to support him).

On Day 37, he talks about FAST Writing: an acronym for Find, Assemble, Speak, Teach. In short:

  • Always be collecting information that you think is useful for you (perhaps in a system like a second brain)
  • When you want to write about a topic, collect the relevant information together from info you've already gathered
  • Hash out your thoughts into something more cohesive by having a conversation with somebody about it
  • Write (publically!) to help somebody else learn from your research

I like this idea, perhaps because it justifies the countless eons of time I spend reading, researching, and dumping information into my wiki, but I also think it's critical to have done your research before attempting to write about a topic. And this approach pretty much forces you to do that.

What you you think? What do you do hone your craft?

This Week's Wiki Updates

I wrote a little Ruby script to go through my wiki commit logs and generate Markdown links for pages that I changed in the past week so I could easily post it here. Let me know what you think about me including this!

My Weekly Finds

Emotional Technology (Platinum Edition)
BT · Album · 2003 · 22 songs.
I seem to be on a "music I listened to at least ten years ago" kick recently; BT's (no relation to me!) Emotional Technology takes me back to the days of staying up to late playing Need For Speed: Underground on my PS2. 
James Stanley - Nightdrive
I am constantly blown away by what you can do with Javascript, and even more so impressed by creating artificial constraints on a creative project. Pair with BT's album above for a more immersive experience. (HN comments)
David Buchanan (@[email protected])
The image in this post displays its own MD5 hash. You can download and hash it yourself, and it should still match - 1337e2ef42b9bee8de06a4d223a51337 I think this is the first PNG/MD5 hashquine.
A niche concept in Computer Programming is the quine: a program that takes no input and produces its own source code as the output. This takes an interesting spin on it, by producing an image whose checksum is displayed in the image itself. Impressive!
GitHub - mame/quine-relay: An uroboros program with 100+ programming languages
An uroboros program with 100+ programming languages - GitHub - mame/quine-relay: An uroboros program with 100+ programming languages
Speaking of quines, here's a repository of a bunch of programs. Each one creates the next program in the list, eventually wrapping around in an infinite loop. 
Who cares?
No one cares. That happens rarely. Someone cares. That happens all the time, and it’s at the heart of our work. Everyone cares. Almost never. Someone is enough. In fact, someone is the entire…
Someone always cares. The trick is to figure out the "who" for your "what" – or to build the right "what" for your "who".