Putting work into words

Marek Minor
Bakken & Bæck
Published in
6 min readApr 23, 2020

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Useful tips for people like me, who are terrified of writing.

To be completely honest, writing scares me. It sometimes seems like a mental childbirth. I don’t know how to express what I want to say. I don’t know where to begin. I write a sentence — I look at it and hate it. I usually change the sentence a few times, and then totally lose my train of thought. I often either knock out only a few words or elaborate too much. Writing is difficult!

That’s why I thought it would be nice to share my tips, techniques, processes, methodology of writing about what I do, for those of us who find it impossibly difficult, but still want to do it. Hopefully this article will help you to articulate your work. Knowledge deserves to be shared. I also hope that the process of writing this will help me to improve all these techniques, so I can share them with you.

Before you start writing, you need to have clear intentions. Ask yourself: Why do you *really* want to write about?
Before you start writing, you need to have clear intentions. Ask yourself: Why do you *really* want to write about?

Have clear intentions

Before you deal with all the how’s of writing, I think you need to have a clear picture of the why’s:

Why do you want to write about this particular thing?

Does this article need to exist? What about similar pieces — has something like it already been written or are you bringing something new to the table? What is it about this particular subject that makes you excited?

Why do you want people to read it?

What is the one remarkable thing that you want people to take from the article? Remember this and let the title, subtitle and the cover photo reflect it. During the process of writing, the focus can change, but be sure to check that the content and form of the article always reflects your one and only aim.

Who is the article for?

Who is the article meant to reach? Is it your programmer colleagues, designers, clients, general public, or somebody else? Let it be clear throughout form and content which audience the article is aimed at.

Use your own excitement

This rule is the most important. This is where it all starts. If you got this one, and I mean really got this one, everything else will fall in line. Write about the thing that makes you excited. What is it that only you know, are there some things that keeps you awake at night, something that you just can’t stop thinking about? It’s like that tip photographers get, namely to take photos of objects, people and places that are near to them. You should bring your own personal spin to it.

If you are in a position where you have to write about something you don’t like or don’t want to explain, try to find the angle that you are interested in. You may even learn things about yourself that you wouldn’t learn otherwise.

Start writing anything, the most important thing is that you actually start.
Start writing anything, the most important thing is that you actually start.

A useful writing-journey

Tell it as you feel it

One of the main obstacles is to figure out where to start. There is an empty page and it needs to be filled. With words! But how do I make a linear story out of all these concepts that are swarming around in my mind? Being able to write is an amazing skill of its own and it can take years to really master the craft. So, what about all of us occasional writing-mortals? What usually helps me is to just start writing as I feel it. Start anywhere, but start.

Use the language you are most comfortable with

By saying “language” I mean both language as in “English” and the personal manner you are writing in. If you’re like me, you’re likely to obsess over every little word you write, but my experience is that it doesn’t matter how you write it at first. Just put it out there, all of it. If you’re not a native English speaker, and writing in English creates even more obstacles between you and your article, write it in your mother tongue or any language that you feel comfortable with. You can always reiterate, or ask somebody with more experience to help you translate it.

Present, record and harvest

Talk to a friend or colleague about what you want to write, and record it. Notice how you present it to that person. If you don’t have anybody to talk to, imagine that you are presenting it to an audience. It doesn’t have to be perfectly structured. Just put it out there. You can then play the recording slowly and turn it into writing, or just put these pieces of content into a skeleton, rearrange it, rewrite it, enrich it, etc. This is a great way to avoid writer’s block, and you make sure that you get to share the most important content.

Say *exactly* how much you want to say

Do not feel obligated to either condense or elaborate on the text. If you have too much to describe, consider splitting up your content in a series of articles. If you don’t have that much to say but really want to share it with the world–that’s ok! You can write a super short article with a few paragraphs and one picture. You could write a tweet — or a series of tweets. To sum up: It’s always better to write terribly than to not write at all.

Who says you need to write like everybody else?
Who says you need to write like everybody else?

Break the form

If you work hard and write regularly, it will all come much easier to you. But what about the form? How can you push it even further? Well, by trying new things. Who says you need to write like everybody else. Here are a few ideas to keep your own voice and style in text:

Write a daily internal log, during project sprints

This will allow your colleagues to track your process and thoughts almost real time, and help you and others to remember what happened long after the project is done. You will also improve your conversational and presentational skills.

Post a regular micro series of tweets

If you don’t feel like writing in a longer format — use the platforms you’re comfortable with. The important point is that you share your knowledge or stories with other people, making their worlds richer!

Be inspired by other people

If you don’t have anything to write about yourself: Write small reviews of other peoples’s work and share it. You can also do an interview with a person you admire, who may share their knowledge or stories. In return, you connect with other people and help them put their work into words.

Don’t be restrained by formats

Writing and sharing your work doesn’t stop with articles. You can upgrade to podcasts or video tutorials (or TikTok, lol). In general, use the form and style that feels right to you. It helps other people learn about what you do, and may even land you a new exciting opportunities. You could even learn things about yourself or your work you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Do not be afraid to ask others to help you.

Let other people help you

You don’t have to do all of this alone. I bet there is at least one person around you with better writing skills than you, who is willing to help. I used to be super stoked about sharing my excitement about design with the world, until my wife told me she doesn’t understand a word of what I am trying to say. Luckily, she, Daniël and Vilde helped me to improve my texts. Do not be afraid to ask others to help you, by giving their personal or professional opinion of the text. And remember: it’s always better to write terribly than to not write at all.

I hope this short article inspired you to write about something you find exciting. What are your tips on writing about your work? Let me know in the comments with your contact. I will share the best ideas here, in the end of the article, with your personal social link.

All illustrations made by Nicolas Vittori

Further reading:

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Marek Minor
Bakken & Bæck

Designer, programmer, casual illustrator and system thinker at Bakken & Bæck. Building GamesWatch (https://gameswat.ch/). http://marekminor.work