Getting Started Writing

    By: Jonathan Gennick on Dec 30, 2016


    By Jonathan GennickJonathan Gennick

    Growing up in Detroit, I would see public service television spots for the organization known as RIF. The catch phrase “Reading is Fundamental” was prominent in those TV spots, and RIF was about making a difference by getting books into the hands of children.

    If reading is fundamental, then writing isn’t far behind. Reading and learning cannot occur without people of vision sitting down to plan and communicate a message, or a story. Writing is needful in any field of endeavor, and those who write are the ones who shape and mold the future.

    Getting started in writing can happen in a couple different ways:

    • Some begin with a message, and communicate it by writing
    • Others begin with a desire to write, then find a message to communicate

    Do you have a message? Then it’s time to think through issues surrounding audience and venue. More on those in a moment, and the idea is to calibrate your scope of coverage to fit the circumstances.

    Are you without a message, but with a desire to write? Here are some ways to come up with topic ideas:

    • Write about what you do every day. Choose your most interesting problem each week, and write a short blog post about how you solved it.
    • Write about what you wish you were doing every day. For example, I am planning a new blog around bicycles and the bicycle industry.
    • Find a cause you believe in, and write to persuade others. Political writing often falls into this category.
    • Research an area of interest, and write about your findings. Authors like Jonathan Lewis and Richard Foote often take this approach.

    Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t feel somehow unworthy because you aren’t writing on topics that are novel and groundbreaking. Write consistently, and you will build your own sphere of influence. Write consistently, and I can all but guarantee an audience will develop around your own style and approach to the topics you cover. Write consistently, and you will make a difference.

    With a topic in mind, next is to think about scoping your message for your audience and venue. Let’s use what you’re reading now as an example. Here’s what my IOUG editor asked me for:

    "As we look to encourage more writers to contribute, we thought that it would be valuable to have a piece on 'tips on getting started writing' – an educational piece that helps people hone in on where to start."

    My audience is clear enough. I’m writing for professionals building their careers around Oracle Database and related products. And more specifically, I’m writing for members of the Independent Oracle User Group. I would write this piece differently were it for my local, small-town newspaper.

    Venue is next. The IOUG asked me to write on the topic of "getting started writing." Now there is a topic that can expand or contract to suit the available space. I chose to keep my treatment short to suit this new, online venue. That led me to write just a few paragraphs each about message and scope.

    It’s perfectly fair to decide that books and blogs are not for you, and that your talents lie elsewhere. But consider venues like Twitter and email and Facebook. The aspects of topic, audience, and venue apply just as much to a Twitter post as to a blog post. Topic, audience, and venue are like three strands in a rope. Get them right, and your impact will be strong. 

    Released: December 30, 2016, 1:52 pm | Updated: February 3, 2017, 3:31 pm
    Keywords: IOUG Press Corner | Jonathan Gennick

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