School Didn’t Teach You to Write Online

School didn’t teach you how to write online.

Here’s how writing online is different from what you learned in school.

1. Distractions are everywhere: 90% of writing well is not getting distracted by the Internet. Put your phone away. Turn off the Internet. Focus on the words.

2. Grammar doesn’t matter: When I was in school, I had terrible grammar and spelling. Still do. But auto-correct and advanced software solved my problem. If I make a mistake, the computer will instantly correct it for me. School is built for the age of handwriting.

3. Remote work rewards people who write well: When you work on the computer instead of an office, you spend less time in meetings and more time writing long-form. Less voice, more text. People who write well can think well.

Love this snippet from David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried.

 

Hire great writers 

If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer, or whatever; their writing skills will pay off. That’s because being a good writer is about more than writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate. Writing is making a comeback all over our society. Look at how much people e-mail and text-message now rather than talk on the phone. Look at how much communication happens via instant messaging and blogging. Writing is today’s currency for good ideas. 

 

4. Writing online is networking: Writing online is the best networking tool ever invented. Better than conferences, better than LinkedIn, better than 99% of universities. Skip the networking events and spend three hours writing online instead.

5. Online writing rewards people who are prolific: In school, we write a few big essays. In life, we write many little ones. Online writers must master the art of having an idea, typing it up, and publishing their words in one week or less.

6. You need to be self-motivated: In school, the teacher tells you what you write. Just follow the syllabus. In life, you can write about whatever you want. No rules. But if you’re going to write, you need a routine so you can write even when you don’t feel like writing.

7. Note-taking: You didn’t learn how to take notes. They expect you to spend hours researching, compile the best ideas in a long document, publish an essay from those notes, then throw the notes away afterward. You can’t be prolific without a system.

8. You need interesting ideas: When you write online, you have to earn the attention of your readers. Everybody has a million things to read and nobody owes you their time. When you write online, you can’t just educate readers. You have to entertain them too.

9. The upside is bigger: When you write in school, the best you can do is get an A+. When you write online, you can reach the smartest people in the world, make new friends, or build a million-dollar business. The potential is limitless.

10. Build an audience: Nobody likes shouting into the void. People want to feel heard, so they can tap into the magic of the Internet. Audience building is as important as writing, but schools don’t know how to teach it.


Related Notes

Start Your Business by Writing Online

Building a Second Brain


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Starting to write online was the single best professional decision I’ve ever made, by an enormous margin."

Packy McCormick

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