It is almost New Year’s Day, that time when the optimistic at heart start thinking about making changes in their life on that magical day that ends the year. After the glorious gluttony-fest that has only recently ended in many cultures, it does feel like a great time to start.
If you have your life/work balance perfected and don’t work or read blogs in months with holidays, maybe you are seeing this later. Either way, you may have been coming up with well-meaning resolutions to eat better, exercise more, be nice to even the most annoying in your life, etc. or you are struggling to keep them. Let’s be honest; resolutions are so very hard because there are always reasons to eat delicious unhealthy foods on the couch while grousing about your neighbor that mows their lawn at 6 AM on Monday morning when you are trying to sleep a few more hours.
I want to offer you a different challenge, writing more. Assuming you have read this far, past the title and the previous sentence, I am assuming I have your attention. As the editor of Simple-Talk, I am here to offer you a few deals. First, you send me tips on how to eat better and exercise more while being constantly busy, and I will do what I can to help you with writing.
- Put your ideas in the comments, and the best ones will share a belated holiday gift from me. One of 5 $10 Starbucks or Amazon gift cards (where allowed). If your comment is good enough, you might just get all of them! Comments will be considered for the contest up until January 6, 2022.
Why should I write?
There are several reasons that you commonly hear (and most are very true.) My focus will be on technical writing, but most of the reasons I state here can be applied to non-technical things. Travel, vacations, parenting, cooking, or simply writing down your memories.
Firstly, you are helping others out by teaching them something. Even just sharing your vacation memories show others’ ideas for their vacations. Technical writing takes this to another level because the topics are about our vocations. Selfishly, this also serves to get your name out there and can help you expand your future career horizons. I have known so many people who have started out writing as a relative newbie and are now known worldwide, simply by starting out blogging and sharing their knowledge. For now, just ignore the prospects of being world famous and writing your eighth query tuning book from your own personal yacht one day because it is very unlikely.
The best value in writing is something you learned about in grade school…writing stuff down helps you remember things. In addition to the near-time values of talking notes, I will give you a quick realization that you will not want to hear. Brace yourself, sit down, whatever you need to do when you hear bad news… You are getting older. And while the whole process is exhausting, with age does come wisdom. You start to see the future more clearly and understand all the mistakes you made in your life in such a way that you can actually effect some changes in your life and you reader’s lives.
But (isn’t there always some but?) while wisdom increases, it seems to take up much more space in your brain. So, while you begin to see the big picture clearly, you will forget the details of practically everything you did. Sadly, this is also when you realize “if I had only written things down.”
Sharing your knowledge with others includes sharing with your future self. Therefore you write. When you actually have to do a task you haven’t done in years, you can go to a search engine and search for your own blog. If I was looking for information on granting rights, I might type: https://www.google.com/search?q=louis+davidson+grant, and included in the first page of results is this:
A blog I wrote 13 years ago! So, you can not only share your knowledge with others, but you also share it with yourself.
I want to write; how do I get started?
Thank you for asking. Search for “how to start a blog,” and you will find lots of possibilities. Pick one and start it out. When you do something at work, spend an hour writing it down and publishing it. (There are caveats, like never use customer data, never repeat proprietary techniques, etc., so don’t try to say I told you to do that. It isn’t going to work!) Even writing just well enough that you can read it and understand it without knowing any context from your work/client is perfect.
But you say you just found out how something worked in an article someone else wrote? So? By no means am I suggesting you simply repeat exactly what you read, ever. On those occasions where the writer did such a great job that you can’t think of anything to add, pop it on social media and say, “Thank you!” If you use their ideas as a jumping-off point (maybe theirs was not clear enough, didn’t exactly cover exactly what you needed,) credit them in your complimentary blog and you both win.
If you don’t have any real-world topics that you could anonymize enough to blog on, consider learning something you may need someday. This is what I did when I wrote this blog on bitwise functions in SQL Server 2022. Just write about something for the learning of it.
One mistake many people make is thinking that professional looking is equated to professional quality. If you are getting started, don’t spend a ton of time trying to build a blog that is super beautiful or has a sophisticated interface. Frankly, most of your traffic is going to come from search engines and/or posting to social media sites going directly to your blogs and will never see your home page. If you can avoid a platform that has a ton of advertisements that you cannot control (this is how they make their money if you don’t wish to pay for your site), that is best, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a decent looking blog.
If all else fails… ask for help
I am as big of a fan as asking for help as you might imagine. I will wander around city streets lost as can be if my device won’t give me directions. But the best thing I have ever done was a friend 20 years ago about blogging. They sent me to a blog site named sqlblog dot com and I really got going with a blog (not a link because it is basically extinct now, and not to be confused with sqlblog.org, which is Aaron Bertrand’s site.)
If you need help finding a home for your blogs, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com and I will try to give you any help I can (time permitting of course!)
So, get to commenting and giving me miracle health cures in the comments. I promise that one winner will be completely picked based on the outlandishness of the suggestion!