At last night's Homebrew Website Club meetup, I noted that I struggled to find the utility of a digital gardens for myself. Ender ^1 said that digital gardens are a different "mood" for writing. We discussed Maggie Appleton's ^2 "topography over timelines" principle, and other features that make digital gardens distinct. The "mood" framing made a lot of sense to me.
Whereas I associate a blog post with slightly longer prose, contributing to a digital garden involves using a different mindset. In a digital garden, one makes connections; contributes in small pieces, over time, to mature ideas. This is similar to how I would approach documenting on a wiki, but had not made that mental connection prior to yesterday.
This discussion prompted me to consider my moods for writing in more depth. Back at the beginning of this blog, I had specific expectations of what constituted a blog post, usually in terms of length and structure. These were mental considerations; part of my writing flow. Now, however, I am recognising developing different "moods" depending on the content I produce.
When I am writing technical content -- an activity that comprises a great share of my writing time -- my "mood" is more serious, although I sometimes leverage a playful tone as a device through which I can better communicate information. If I am writing a technical guide, the primary thought on my mind is: how do I communicate this topic in such a way that my target audience would leave with the impression that they, too, can build or use what I have documented in writing?
When I write reference documentation, I focus on documenting every variable and function; my mind is in the mood of "document everything that could be used" versus guiding someone through a topic, such as is the case in producing guides.
Lately, I have been branching out on this blog to cover topics that are not exclusively technical. I see this as an opportunity for me to develop as a writer. I would like to become more comfortable writing about a greater range of topics, and in different styles. To do so, I have been developing different mindsets or "moods".
For my posts where I write about what is going on in my environment, my mood is observational. I ask, mentally: what details would help paint the picture of the moment I am in right now? For my personal edification, I also consider: if I was reading this later, what anchors would be helpful to bring me back to this moment?
For posts where I'm writing about words or a humorous moment, I am more playful. I feel comfortable being whimsical -- or, at least, trying to be! -- and using a more informal tone because, in the context of that piece, such a mood will help me better convey the thoughts on my mind. This more playful tone was inspired in part by Ruben Schade's blog, and has motivated me to start writing about topics that I may otherwise not have covered on this blog. I have discovered great joy in more informal writing.
As I write this post, I'm in a thoughtful mood. I am using writing as a means to explore a topic and codify knowledge that is on my mind. This is in contrast to, say, a technical post, where my effort is expended in documenting knowledge I already have in other places (often with reference to technical material) and figuring out the best ways to convey a concept.
I wonder if, now I have the mental model of "moods for writing," this notion will come to mind more when I'm writing in new areas. Might I start pondering the mood I am in and the tone I want to convey in an article more consciously? I wonder.
Tagged in writing.
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