Growing up, my parents had a friend nicknamed "Duck." He was a fraternity brother of my father's who had a knack for "Duck-isms." He would say things like, "when it comes to the stock market, you should buy low and sell high" or "when driving in snow, be sure to slow down." Not what you'd call earth-shattering advice. But he said it with such sincerity; it felt like he believed he came across some tremendous insight. It would be an insight if he was ten years old and saying it to his friends. But not grown-ass adults. Whenever he sprouted a "duck-ism," the typical response was, "oh, really, no shit, Duck? Should I buy low and sell high? Quack Quack." The quack quack was said like The Penguin from the old '66 Batman played by Burgess Meredith.

Last week I started writing a blog post about working from home. The blog post centered around this thought:

It isn't about working from home vs. working at the office. It is about working where you think you are the most productive.

I've been working from home since I started working at Octopus Deploy in April of 2018. Doing so has taught me working where I am most productive is more important than working from home. Being able to focus on my work has been fantastic. Despite all of that, I had a tough time getting motivated to write the post. That is because I was about to write a 1500 word "Duck-ism." I wasn't offering any great insight; I was re-hashing the same old same old. I wasn't very original.

That has lead me to write this post. I wanted to take you through my thought process into finding my writing voice for this site. And really, what I want this site to be.

The importance of being original

Like anyone else in the tech world, I am on Twitter and LinkedIn. And like everyone on one of those platforms, you've seen your share of long diatribes. Some are very good and offer insight that sticks with me for days, some are okay that I forget about in an hour, and then there is the last bunch. Those are the ones where you roll your eyes and say, "oh really, no shit?"

My fear is that happens after someone reads one of my posts on this site. In the back of my mind, I'm always thinking; someone took time out of their busy schedule to devote 5-15 minutes of their lives. Don't waste their time. Don't recycle the same old stuff they've heard before. Give them something unique. Even if I'm wrong, at least be original.

How can I be original?

I'm no fool; I know nothing I write here will change the world. I'm not going to offer some big insight into life's greatest mysteries. How could I? Every person's situation is different. No two people's lives are the exact same. My "great insight" might help me, but chances are it might not help anyone else.

This brings me to the root of this article; if I can't offer any great insight, what exactly can I offer? How can I be original?

One of the things that drove my parents crazy when I was growing up was I insisted on "going to the school of hard knocks." I would ignore all advice and reason and forge ahead. And more often than not, my parents were right. But for whatever reason, I insist on re-learning the same lessons they already knew. And the truth is, I still attend the school of hard knocks. Instead of my parents, now I drive my wife crazy.

The answer on how to be original has been in front of me the entire time; I can write about my experiences and how I screwed up. Specifically, what was my thought process at the time and why I was so wrong. I don't need to be preachy (I'm not going say "do this and you'll be successful"). Instead I will take the tone of "this was a mistake I made, this is why it was a mistake, I hope you find it useful in your life."

I need to change something when I'm not excited about a topic

I think I've wanted to write about my experiences from the get-go. My first post it turns out I'm not mission critical started as a post about why you shouldn't over-inflate your importance. It wasn't until I shifted focus from "here is a lesson you should know" to "hey, so I thought I was important, but in reality, I wasn't" that I got excited to finish the post.

The same thing happened with my second post; I struggled writing it until I started writing about how I messed up my previous websites and how I hoped to avoid those errors with this site. At no time did I say, "this is how you should run a blog!" If I am honest with myself, I'm probably wrong. No one should follow my advice on how to run a blog. And like before, I got excited to finish the article once I pivoted over to writing about my mistakes.

I've scrapped my existing "work from home" post because it suffers from the same problem. After a pandemic where a massive chunk of the population worked from home. People got a taste, and now companies are struggling on how to bring them back. So many people are already saying "it is about working where you're most productive!" I'd probably get the dreaded "oh really, no shit?" response if I published my original draft.

That was an important lesson for me. If I don't want to crack open my laptop and start polishing the post, I am not super excited about it. I'm not writing in my voice from my experiences and am trying to force something that isn't there. I either need to pivot or dump the post in the trash pile.

Writing how I talk

Now onto my last point. I want to be original, and for me, that means basing my posts on my life. I need to write in my voice. However, when I started writing this article, I sanitized quite a bit. I removed quite a bit of content along with all the "asses" and "shits." There is a time and a place when to self-sensor. Getting up in front of all the employees at Octopus Deploy and dropping f-bombs will be the fastest way to get yelled at.

But this isn't one of those situations. No one is putting a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to read what I write. I use so-called "bad language," especially when talking about the mistakes I've made. Trying to sanitize my thoughts to the point where I am not using curse words isn't realistic. Because that is not who I am.

And besides, people talk like that in an office setting all the time. Last week one person used "shit show" to describe what they were watching at work.

But like anything, everything is better in moderation. Yes, I will write how I talk, but I'm going to be dropping f-bombs left and right. I don't do that in real life; why would I do it here?

Wrapping Up

This isn't quite what I had in mind for this week's post. I thought my post on working from home would be a good one when I started it. Instead, I pivoted, and now I have a post about why I scrapped that idea. I'm not upset by the change, as I gained new clarity into what I want this site to be.

I liken the first dozen posts on a blog to the first season of a TV show. It's going to be messy as stuff is figured out. While I have a good idea of what I want this site to be, I will evolve and change over time. My writing is going to get better. My opinions are going to change as new information comes in.

Finding My Writing Voice

When I am not happy with a post that means I am not very excited about the topic. I'm trying to force something that isn't there. I needed to learn how to write in my voice.