January 27, 2020 10 Articles in 10 Days Challenge: My Experience Writing For Thrive
It’s becoming a tradition in Topcoder to run an incentive program called December Big Give. The purpose of this program is to incentivize participation by providing big rewards on all fronts of design, development, and data science challenges.
By the closure of 2019, there was a particular initiative that caught my immediate attention: Thrive – the source of truth for educational content in Topcoder. There was a very well rewarded December Big Give challenge oriented to create content for Thrive. The challenge was very tempting since it meant writing technical articles. It’s not something I hadn’t done before but I had not done so through such a thorough review process, which oversees the quality of the content with a very attentive eye.
I like writing, and I like challenges. This had all the necessary ingredients to make it the best closure trial for my writing skills on a schedule.
I have this obsession with observing and defining things around me. If you go to the Thrive website, you will find that is defined as a place of growth through tutorials and workshops that matter. However, after my experience, I dare to simplify its definition by saying that Thrive is the University of Topcoder. It is the place you go if you want to excel when you’re looking to acquire high-quality knowledge through practical examples written by the members for the members.
After being involved in content creation, including my own articles, and those from other members, I came to notice the vast potential around this platform. Potential not only for Topcoder customized content but for general theory that we can not always easily find online.
THE 10/10 CHALLENGE
The goal of the challenge was not to write ten articles in ten days as the title precedes, it was any number of items that any writer would choose. I decided on ten because that was the number of days I envisioned I had available to work on the articles from the moment I heard of the challenge; one item per day. The idea was also to keep the number low to avoid overdoing it, since that can lead me to creativity leak. I feel I run out of ideas if I overwhelm my creative process.
In my writing experience, for me, a simple mortal, I found my brain needs to rest to perform such creative activities. Writing original content is demanding, so I knew I had to take it easy. I aimed for excellence in my articles, something people would not only read to learn something new but to justify the foundations and reasoning behind every single tip, every single piece of advice my mortal brain could come up with. If I had an idea I didn’t know how to articulate, I’d dismiss it or study it until I became an expert on that topic.
Organization was vital to accomplish the goal. When I decided how many articles I could write, the next logical step was to find topics. Believe it or not, I spent one hour planning. Finding good topics, making sure they didn’t collapse with any other article that was already written in the past at the same time as they provided value to the knowledge universe in the community was easy.
Once I knew which article I would write each day, the next part was to invoke my muse, do research on topics I lacked knowledge and write like a wild horse. The advantage of the planning was huge. It didn’t give me room for anxious thoughts of what I should write about tomorrow. It was all figured out. The outcome was very satisfactory, considering the invested time, reward, and the essential lessons I learned. If you have ever read any of my very long boring posts, you would probably know I’m a time maniac. You learned from my $5,000 income breakdown in two months of travel article, I measure everything I think I can control somehow. This personal challenge wasn’t an exception.
I’d like to highlight some lessons from this personal challenge experience that I will always carry with me for future considerations when I have to write technical content:
- Being on the edge of knowledge: I had to reread books that I had not opened in centuries in order to articulate my ideas decently. It felt good to refresh the design principles and psychology theory.
- Opportunity: I realized there is an opportunity to build a technical writing career. It is something demanding yet very stimulating. The time investment vs. reward trade-off provides long term gratification.
- Juicy economic reward: we get paid off each successful article submitted, $150 each. I sent 10, do the math. I can’t complain about being that lucky.
- Easy accountability: the only capital I needed to do this was a healthy brain and my disposition, no matter the place. There was one article that I wrote while I was traveling to meet my parents for Christmas Eve, a three hour trip that became a full article, $150.
MY PERSONAL COLLECTION
Here comes the moment when I miserably self promote my articles by sharing this shameful list of my favorite ones:
- Marvelapp Master Class: it’s a two-articles series that explain why you should focus on creating a workflow experience instead of just plain screens, while the second part showcases specific tips that will help you become the master of Marvelapp presentations.
- How to Approach Checkpoint Review Session: psychology foundations and copilot experience that explains the client’s mental process, using those insights to help you capture hidden codes in the feedback.
- UI Design Feynman-like Explained: I finally found a way to simplify the definition of Topcoder challenges, Topcoder design competitions, and the workflow, using the infamous technique of Richard Feynman.
There is plenty of excellent material for all Topcoder tracks in Thrive as I write these lines today. I strongly encourage all members to take a look. I’m sure there’s something new to learn that will help you grow and win challenges.
Peace out, folks!