I write because I want to share what I know with others. Yet the software developer in me makes writing hard for me. See, in coding the internal structure needs to be consistent. The code we write is like a house of cards. If we make even one tiny mistake, the whole thing may come falling down. So, when I write, I try to be consistent, which is not a bad thing in itself of course, but the desire for consistency makes writing a lot more difficult for me than it should be.
Haruki Murakami once said you should not be too intelligent to write fiction. Well, I only write non-fiction, but strictly speaking, nothing we write is entirely non-fiction. Even in scientific writing –especially the popular science kind– there can be quite a lot that is assumed to be true. The software developer in me gets pedantic at times, and tries really hard to ground every aspect of an article in reality. Most of the time, this attitude means I have to put a lot of extra work into making sure everything is accurate and makes sense, and yet the end result may turn out to be quite boring.
I’ve always wanted to be able to write the way I speak. Apparently there are authors who can write like that, seemingly never lifting a finger from the keyboard so to speak, but there are those like Stephen King who can’t. Stephen King was brave enough to share excerpts from some of his early drafts, and they are pretty bad. But, what makes the end result infinitely better is the intense polishing phase. When I try to write and polish at the same time, which I often fall into the habit of doing, I rarely get anywhere.
The best way to write, at least for me, is to write as quickly as possible as Stephen King suggested, and polish later. Polishing doesn’t just mean editing the text though. It involves adding new viewpoints or removing passages that slows down pacing – especially the pedantic parts I’m so prone to include.