Writing Workshop Part 4: the Writing

Time for part 4! If you’re not familiar with this workshop, read the overview first. In this part, it’s time to write your piece.

Largely due to my detailed and aggressive outlines, writing has always been a little easy for me. I mean, if you’ve got an outline with 3rd- and 4th-level headings, you’re only writing a few paragraphs for each heading, in most cases. So “writer’s block” tends to not be a thing for me.

I try to write in a casual voice. College “technical writing” classes, I swear, ruin people. The best compliments I get are the ones where people say, “I’ve seen you speak, and when I read your book or an article, I can hear your voice in my head.” That’s amazing to hear, and it’s absolutely my goal.

Avoid passive voice:

The computer is now powered up.

It’s passive because we don’t actually know who did the action to what. Go with active voice instead:

You turned on the computer.

There’s a person here: you. It’s fine to use I and you in your writing; only use we if you’re referring to both yourself and the reader.

We see here that the car is in drive mode.


You can see that the car is in drive mode.

Much better.

For each outline heading, try to write one paragraph that makes the main point for that heading – and there should generally only be one point. An additional 2-3 paragraphs can go into more detail, explain supporting concepts, outline variations, and so on. But you should be able to see how each subsequent paragraph supports the first one. Someone who only reads the first paragraph of each heading should still get the basic gist, even if they don’t get the full story.

For God’s sake, stop press <spacebar> twice after periods. Your high school typing teacher is probably dead by now. We have proportional fonts now, not IBM Selectrics.

It’s also fine to not use your outline headings in your piece. I’m not doing so in this piece. This is short enough that a run-on narrative works. But I still used the outline to decide what order to use when I covered things.


It’s go-time! Take your outline and write a piece!

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