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Influencer II

Writing about writing

I came across a post on the ISC2 blog.  It's an article by Chris Veltsos (Dr. Chris Veltsos, if you please, or, to his friends, Dr. Infosec) on "Writing Cybersecurity Articles--Getting Through the Tough Times."  As the title somewhat implies, it's about how to get through writer's block when writing about infosec.


I'm really not sure how to take this.


First off, if you work in infosec, you pretty much automatically have the best inspiration in the world.  There is always something new happening in infosec.  There is always something new happening that is applicable to infosec.  Techies, in various fields, are always arguing about which field in high tech is the fastest moving.  I figure infosec has a lock on it: whatever is happening, in whatever tech field, has security implications.


As a bit of background, I've published four books.  (Or six, depending on how you count them.)  Over the years I've written monthly columns for at least three periodicals.  For twenty years I had a project doing books reviews in technical literature.  (Always at least weekly: often daily.)  I've abandoned a number of blogs.  Since I got into infosec I have never run out of things to write about.  I don't have the time to write about everything I want to.  (I desperately want voice recognition to get good enough to take dictation.)


I don't understand "writer's block."  I don't understand dry spells.  (Fatigue, I could understand ...)


So, then, to the specifics of what Chris has to say about it.


He says you need motivation.  (And aqueducts, apparently.)  Oh, come on.  You work in infosec.  You are saving people's privacy, money, jobs.  Your colleagues, your friends, your family.  How is that not enough motivation?  (Yeah, sure, the stupid things your colleagues, friends, and family do is sometimes depressing.  So, take some time to yell at them via your writing ...)


He says you need to think about why you are writing.  Sorry, isn't that the same thing as your motivation?  (Oh, unless you are just writing for self-promotion.  Yeah, I could see how that could get pretty dry at times ...)


He says you need to think about your writing "environment."  Yeah, I hear about that all the time.  Saw a movie last night that had a writer who couldn't write without everything just so in the "environment."  Again, while I understand that having the building collapsing around you could be a distraction, I don't understand this "environment" business.  I've written at home, on planes, in airports, on trains, at work between demands, on the bus, in coffee shops and restaurants, in hotels, and while waiting to be called to testify in court.  You're writing about infosec.  It needs to be done.


He says you should think about pen and paper, if a computer doesn't do it for you.  OK, if necessary.  I mostly use a computer, or laptop, or something with a keyboard.  I've used tablets and smartphones.  (I hate soft keyboards.)  I've used pen (or even pencil) and paper.  (My handwriting is terrible.  Always has been.)  (But I've always wanted to try out those pens that save what you've written ...)  I've used whiteboards, blackboards, chalk, or a piece of burnt stick on a rock.  Whatever works.


His last three suggestions are, basically, give it a rest and come back to it.  OK.  I've often got multiple bits on the go, so I might leave one for a time and concentrate on others.


But I'm writing about infosec.  There's too much to leave it for long ...


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1 Reply

rslade, thanks for sharing your thoughts about the blog article, and your wealth of writing experience.

Kudos to you for the amount of writing you've been able to do, and having "never run out of things to write about." 

One of the drivers for the blog article was to reassure people that do experience dry spells with their writings that there are things they can try to help them get back in the groove. Earlier this year, two security professionals (who call me Chris BTW) shared with me being frustrated with their own writing (or lack thereof). The article grew out of interactions to help them get past writer's block.


Yes, infosec folks have (or should have) "the best inspiration in the world" since things are always moving/changing. But putting that into words can, for some, be challenging enough that they stop trying.