Four Writing Prompts that Motivated Me in 2021 • Trellick

Four Writing Prompts that Motivated Me in 2021

December 2021

Like many people, I've often struggled to write down and share my ideas. This year I've managed to post a bit more, and I've been thinking about what helped. Here are some situations where I found it easier to get over the hump of publishing things in 2021:

1. Catching Fleeting Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, having a deadline prompted some of my most focused writing this year. I managed to crank out my Job Search and Joining Wave posts in the hectic weekend before I started my current job, because I knew that once I started work, the perspective that I wanted to write from would evaporate quickly.

This also motivated me to write several internal documents at Wave, sharing my onboarding experiences while I still had fresh eyes to see the organization as a newcomer.

This isn't just about changing life circumstances, it works for transient "shower" thoughts too. When I find myself temporarily fixated on an idea, it's the best (or maybe only) time to take a stab at articulating it. This motivated my Reflections on Jodorowsky's Dune on the weekend that I watched that documentary.

Matt Webb echoes this in his 10th rule for blogging: "Only write what’s in my head at that exact moment. It’s 10x faster."

2. Marking the Trail I Was Looking For

Lately, whenever it takes me longer than it "should" to track down or figure out some bit of information, I try to take the time to write the notes I wished I'd found, and leave them somewhere I would have found them.

At Wave, this means writing a Quip doc or Slack post using the terms I was originally searching for. For broader technical things, it might mean creating and answering my own Stack Overflow question so that it'll be easier to find later.

3. Resharing for a Larger Audience

Sometimes when I'm writing an email to someone, I realize that it's motivated me to write a good explanation of a concept, and it's a shame that only one person will be able to read it.

On a good day, that's enough for me to spend the extra minutes to turn that explanation into its own post or document, and share a link to it instead. That way, I can reuse it in future messages, and hopefully other interested people can stumble across it on their own.

My Law of Data Maintenance and Beggars in Spain posts started as this way, as things that I was writing to friends.

4. Rewarding the Thoughts that Come Back

Finally, there are some thoughts that didn't seem particularly notable at first, but that keep coming back to me. It might be a talk that I listened to a month ago that comes to mind in a work conversation, or something I've said that I hear other people repeating.

Since this is a good clue that the thought is useful or interesting, it's more worthwhile to write it down for future reference.

I've just started a bunch of drafts based on this one that I plan to share in the coming weeks!