Writing is very hard, speaking is not

by Volker Weber

This may surprise some of you, but I find writing to be incredibly hard. Often I need a deadline to even get me started to write something down. That's why I only write short pieces that can be finished in a few hours. I failed to write longer pieces many times.

Why is it so hard? I don't really know, but I believe it's because I have to put my thoughts into a series of sentences. The model I have in my brain often makes this impossible. It's too interconnected. In order to put thoughts in the right sequence I have to cut those interconnections, and I don't really want to do that.

How do I get out of this misery? I dream up a story I would like to tell and then fill that story with all the tiny interconnected pieces. Sometimes I forget some of them and then feel unable to put them in later. That's where my editors fit in. They can make the story better, they can add little pieces I missed. My writing is often very bad and can easily be improved by a good editor. In any case, I cannot start writing before the story is complete.

Speaking is completely different. I find this to be much easier. It's the same start. Collect information, put it in perspective, read sources, talk to people and then develop the story. Once I have that, I am done. No writing. No speaker notes. I would not even need slides. I use them to get my point across easier, but they are only there for the listener. The slides don't tell the story. I do. Therefore the slides are completely useless, if you did not hear the story.

I don't mind being interrupted by questions. It's quite easy to divert shortly from your story and look at other aspects of the model. If a question takes me outside my area of knowledge, I just say so. I find "I don't know" to be a good answer. It's impossible to know everything, but you should be able to realize what you don't know.

As you can imagine, I am looking forward to do some talking in the coming weeks. And I will be meeting some of you. ;-)

Comments

So can we expect a vowe YouTube channel any time soon?
:-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2010-11-09

Nö. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2010-11-09

Looking forward to meeting you. We will have to see though, if Johannes Endres can do us the same favour as you always do - keep us out of 'Suppenkoma' ;)

Hubert Stettner, 2010-11-09

Yes, he is very good.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-09

could not agree more - so what is the way out?

Stephan Bohr, 2010-11-09

I recognize my own problems with writing in relation to speaking in your words. Too bad I don't have editors. ;)

Daniel Haferkorn, 2010-11-09

Your brain works that way because you are most probably an INTP.

Necip Sayar, 2010-11-09

Not unlikely. Probably an INFP/ENFP though. I play an INTP on TV.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-09

Strange. You write way too rational for an NF but you probably know yourself better.

Necip Sayar, 2010-11-09

oops, I thought you were just on your own, writing those blog articles.
Or did I got this wrong? Does "editors" mean, there is a team behind?

Markus Wolff, 2010-11-09

I am talking about professional writing, Markus. This here is not hard at all.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-09

Danke.

Man hat ja [manchmal/fast immer/sehr oft] das Gefühl, der Einzige mit einer vermeintlichen Schwäche zu sein. Und dann tut es gut zu lesen, dass man nicht der einzige ist, der immer wieder über eine Hürde - in diesem Fall das strukturierte zielführende Schreiben - springen muss und sich dafür auch immer wieder neu motivieren muss.

:-)

Joachim Haydecker, 2010-11-09

Das ist in der Tat wichtig. Ich bin selbst einmal schwermütig geworden, weil ich nichts zu Papier kriegte.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-09

Da kann ich dir Zwangsschreiben empfehlen... Ich muss im Moment jede Woche 2-3 Papers (a 500 Worte) auf rezyklierten Phospor bannen. Abgabetermine sind fix. Themen sind langweilig bis interessant. Ich hab jetzt im letzten Jahr gut 100 solcher Texte verfasst. Nicht dass es einfacher ist über ein langweiliges Thema zu schreiben, aber es übt einen Gedanken zu finden und ihn zu formulieren... An einem guten Tag brauche ich 2 Stunden für einen Text, die meisten werden aber hingequält ;)

Jens-Christian Fischer, 2010-11-09

Nein, ich will ja noch ein bisserl Freude am Leben haben. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2010-11-09

Are the short pieces you describe the articles you write for heise & co? Long pieces would be essays or books? And vowe.net is mostly about those tiny interconnected pieces?

What I like about "ceci n'est pas un blog" is your way of spreading the "pieces". Often a bit mysterious, sometimes dedicated to a few insiders, frequently indicating background stories. You open yourself enough for readers to be authentic and engaging. Your professional articles are excellent and to vowe readers a bit like an epilogue. To be able to follow the trails of breadcrumbs you leave on vowe.net is reading the "real" story. Your "unblog" is peppered with question marks, which incidentally (or not) is also good journalism and invites us to contribute.

However you do it and why... it work's. Your stuff should come with a warning, "please be aware that reading vowe pieces might seriously distract from prior intentions and urgent todos. First time consumption is harmless, frequent visits lead to potentially long-term addiction."

Moritz Schroeder, 2010-11-09

Thank you, Moritz. Thank you very much. Yes, that is exactly what I am doing.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-09

Good description Moritz! (hopelessly addicted)

Lars Berntrop-Bos, 2010-11-10

Zum Thema "writing": Ich habe gerade Deinen Artikel "Windows 7 Phone" in der iX gelesen. Mir gefällt vor allem, daß Du -- gegen den aktuellen Heise-Trend -- keine Umgangssprache verwendest und auf hochgestochene Fachbegriffe verzichtest und gerade dadurch einen verständlichen Text erzeugst. So kann ich mich dem Thema widmen, ohne mich über die Form aufregen zu müssen. Das ist dann sogar irgendwie entspannend.

Olav Brinkmann, 2010-11-18

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