Why every aspiring psychologist (academic?) should write blog posts

Writing is one of the most important aspects of any academic or practicicing psychologist’s work life. Crafting research papers for both and writing reports for practicising psychologists are the bread and butter of these professions. But good writing takes time to develop. Very few are naturally excellent writers. For the rest of us, we have to grind away. Putting in the hours to make our writing more fluid, our ideas clearer, our prose more engaging. Although it can seem like a time investment you can’t afford, I think writing blog posts is well worth it1. This blog post is primarily for those at an earlier stage in their careers but, of course, everyone can benefit from more writing practice.

Workinonit

When you’re writing a blog post, you need to synthesise relevant information and present it in a readable fashion. This is exactly the same kind of writing we use when developing a report. Whether what you’re writing is for other professionals or the parent of the child/young person you are working with, good writing is essential. Writing in clear prose that captures the reader’s attention and makes the relevant information stand out are hallmarks of good reports, papers, and blog posts. The ultimate purpose is to communicate ideas we think are important in understandable language, making complex ideas accessible. Practicing this in a zero pressure environment will make your published papers and work reports all that more effective.

Yo hago lo que me de la gana2

So how do you go about starting this blogging journey? One of the simplest is: host a blog for free. This gives you the freedom to write on whatever you want, on the timescale you want. You don’t even have to write under your own name, case in point: me! I started on blogger and then moved to WordPress4. I then made the upgrade to a paid self-hosted wordpress.org site, but you don’t have to worry about that if you don’t want to. Many of the best blogs self host, so having your own domain isn’t essential.

If you don’t feel like having your own blog, you can write posts for blogs that take submissions. edpsy.org.uk is a UK-based blog for Educational Psychologists that is always looking for EPs to write something5. Your university or course may have a blog that you can write for. Alternatively, you can write for yourself. The writing can be just for you and the development of your skill. The act of continually writing will make you improve over time, whether it is read by anyone else or not. Blogging is also a great avenue for learning about new topics. I’ve learned so much by thinking of an area I’m interested in but don’t know much about, researching it, and writing a blog post. So not only can blogging help your writing, it can broaden your knowledge too.

I ain’t got time!

If you are/want to become a psychologist6, you probably don’t have an enormous amount of free time. So you might think you don’t have the resources to put into additional writing. But your blog posts don’t have to take weeks of research. They can be short summaries of topics that interest you, or musings on a topic. It can be as shallow or as deep as you’d like. The point is you’re developing your professional voice and honing a vital skill. All practice is good practice. And the more you practice, the quicker your writing will get.

For the logistics of writing, you can set aside 15 minutes a day, or wait until you have an hour or more free. Many recommend building in daily writing sessions and if that works for you, great. I’ve never been able to do that, preferring to write when I feel like it. There’s no right or wrong way to write a blog post because you’re (probably) not looking to turn this into a career. It’s all about the art of writing.

Be fruitful and multiply

Truth be told, I’ve been feeling rather uninspired by blogging recently. I haven’t found it as enjoyable as I have in the past when I’ve loved it. But that’s the beauty of blogging. You go through natural crests and troughs of enthusiasm for it, as well as available time. Since you control how frequently you write, you can wait until your enthusiasm returns. And the ultimate purpose is to practice writing, so it doesn’t matter if there are gaps between posts. Just sitting down and writing something is good enough.

1Even if I am obviously biased.

2I do what I want.

3If you’re interested, I explain here why I blog under a pseudonym.

4Which is what I’d recommend for those starting out.

5They’ve even got tips for writing blog posts!

6Or academic?

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