Writing that Surpasses Monkey Garbage 

I often write terribly. I’ll ramble and ramble – starting at one idea and ending at another with naught but sleepy pontification between. This type of writing doesn’t even deserve a clever name. I’ll call it Monkey Garbage.

Monkey Garbage typically stems from the combination of reckless excitement and a desire for productivity. I get an idea for an article/post and start vomiting words on the page. The post on Pareto the Craftsman is a good example: I went down the rabbit hole, only to find out that I no longer had anything resembling a cohesive product.

The real problem with Monkey Garbage is the time it takes from doing more productive things. I’ll subconsciously think I’ll be working hard, but won’t realize the hour I’ve wasted writing crap and the hour after I’ve wasted fixing it. What’s worse, writing is involved in almost everything I do, so the problem compounds. Although a blog post, an email, and a rule book all require different mindsets and skills, they still need to convey data effectively and are susceptible to time distortion.

Fortunately, I think the fix (or at least a starting fix) is simple. For each blog/article/quip moving forward, there are two questions that I need to answer before I start writing:

  • What am I trying to talk about?
    • e.g. how I noticed I often write inefficiently and how I think I can improve
  • What value am I adding to the reader?
    • e.g. my initial proposed solution to solving this problem, which would prove valuable if they experience the same trouble I do
Basically, this method is tricking my mind into starting an outlining process by just answering two questions (rather than fill in a skeleton of bullet points). I hate outlines, but also understand how they can be useful. Limiting my focus to the two points above serves as a spoonful of a sugar for my writer’s medicine.

It’s what I’m going with for now – let me know if you’ve found something that works best for you.