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Cover image for What do I write about?

What do I write about?

tlakomy profile image Tomasz Łakomy ・3 min read

I've been asked a fair bit recently:

"How can one come up with ideas for dev.to posts?"
"What can I write about?"
"Why should anyone care what do I have to say?"

Last time I was asked one of those questions was when I was recording an episode of Infinite Loop podcast 2 hours ago (hosted by Will Johnson who you should follow on Twitter immediately).

To be honest - I'm not an expert when it comes to writing. I don't have hundreds of posts published, my engineering thesis took ages to write and I'm yet to write a book.

So why am I writing about writing if I'm not an expert? Why should anyone listen to me?

Because my experience matters.

And so does yours.

If everyone waited until they are a world class expert at React Hooks, there would be at most 5 tutorials out there. Instead, we have hundreds of free tutorials, videos and other resources provided by the community.

Do not be discouraged to write a post about something because "somebody else has already written about it"

No one gets to claim a topic to be their own.

Sure, there are experts in some areas but it's not like Angular Police will storm your apartment if you write a "Hello World in Angular" post without 5 years of experience.

The more resources there are, the better. Everyone has their own way of explaining topics, you never know if your way of explaining GraphQL will finally click with somebody.

Do not be afraid to write about topics you've learned about recently

Seriously - if you have more than 2 weeks [citation needed] experience as a developer, you already have something to write about.

Even better - your lack of experience may be your greatest asset. So many tutorials out there are written from a perspective of experienced developers and they skip over details that may be obvious to them, but hella confusing for beginners (and yes, I'm guilty of it myself).

Because of your fresh worldview on a topic, you get to explain it in a way that connects with someone else who is also a beginner.

Yeah but I don't have the time to write a long, detailed post, check for errors, ask people for feedback before publishing etc.

Then DON'T DO IT.

Don't write long, detailed posts that no one will actually read in entirety because our attention span is terrible and when I see anything longer than "5 min" read I leave a like on Twitter (because I'm sure it was smart) and immediately close the tab, in fact this sentence is so long that I'm sure you've checked a social media website of your choosing in the middle of it.

There's so much values in those quick tips, lessons and posts.

Have you ever read a book that should have been an article itself?

You don't have to write a lot to get your message across.

Consider this:

Have an idea -> Write it down -> Check for typos -> Publish

Learn by teaching

Your posts don't have to be for others. Half of my egghead.io lessons were recorded mostly for myself because I wanted to solidify my knowledge about a topic. I cannot recommend this approach enough.

One more thing: Your posts are not immutable. Unlike Twitter, dev.to has an EDIT button. You can always go back and add more if you'd like!

But your word will be already out there!

In fact, I'm about to hit submit. I may come back to this post later, who knows!

Cheers!

Posted on by:

tlakomy profile

Tomasz Łakomy

@tlakomy

Senior Frontend Engineer at OLX Group. Tech speaker, egghead.io instructor, jQuery evangelist.

Discussion

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This is so meta. Don't know what to write about... how about writing about not knowing what to write about!

 
 

Absolutely spot on! Great post! I'd like to show you that this post is very accurate for me and why others should follow these tips.

I'm currently on 87 posts. I started posting (very irregularly) in August of 2016. For the past 6 months, I've been able to publish at least 1 blog post every single week. So where do the ideas come from? For me, they come from what I'm currently working on. Take my last two posts for example. They're all about Golang because that's what I'm working on at the moment. Go back about a year and a half and you'll find a lot of Angular and Migrating AngularJS to Angular posts, it's because I was working on that at that point in time.

I write about these topics to highlight new discoveries, write about a problem I am facing or have solved. I also write to get the ideas out of my head and onto the screen. These two reasons cover the last two points of this post:

  • Do not be afraid to write about topics you've learned about recently
  • Learn by teaching

Then you have the first point: "Do not be discouraged to write a post about something because somebody else has already written about it". Completely agree. Many people tell the same story in completely different ways and one version might resonate much better than the other for you personally. When I learn something new, I won't read one blog post on the subject, I will go through very many, even if they're all about the same topic. Every blog post adds a little extra information or explains something a bit differently and it helps me to grasp the subject much easier.

For me personally, I write for myself and others happen to read it as well. I don't really care if no one reads my blog posts, because the act of writing it has already fulfilled the whole goal of the blog post for me. Teaching others is a great side effect, but is not my goal per se. I don't look at the stats on this website or Medium and don't even track anything on my personal blog. Just to remove the temptation to start focusing on the numbers rather than the writing.

Again, this blog post is absolutely spot on! Thank you for putting this into the world!

 

I can't for the life of me remember where I got this advice (maybe from the ladybug podcast?) but one of the most helpful things to think about is the ratio of beginners to experts that need tutorials. Even something as simple as "how to set up a project in X language" tutorial can be helpful to a huge amount of people.

 

This is a wonderful post. So true! Golden mantra:

Have an idea -> Write it down -> Check for typos -> Publish

 

I agree with you Tomasz! Just write!

 

I enjoyed the "lightness" of your article. Jerry Seinfeld like. Easy way to start off my Friday morning. Thanks!