How do you find the time to write? Reflection and agility in learning

Is the wrong question: ‘why don’t you find the time to write?‘ would be better. Agile learners are able to pick up ideas and test them out rapidly, they iterate various behaviours and approaches to test out what lets them be more effective, and they do this within and alongside their learning communities. Narrating our learning is a valuable part of that process, it captures our evolving thoughts and provides a legacy.

Having worked on the blog for a few years now, i feel able to recognise the process of evolution in ideas. I tend to venture into new areas with enthusiasm, but little structure. In the early days, writing is linked strongly to ‘things i already know‘ and tends to be anecdotal, observational, in the early days i’m trying things out and looking what happens.

As ideas develop, structure crystallises, captured in phrases and concepts. For example, i describe social learning as ‘the semi formal layers of conversation surrounding the formal space‘. This phrase didn’t spring to mind fully formed, it went through half a dozen iterations first. When looking at mobile learning, these days i always start by talking about ‘mindset for mobile‘, how mobile learning is about more than the technology because ‘technology facilitates learning, but doesn’t guarantee it‘.

These are all ideas that have developed, iterated, over time and they’ve only done so because i’ve found the time to write. Writing forces me to capture my thoughts now, and the process of reflection to do that tends to change what i think, so if i wrote about this again tomorrow, i would have different things to say.

Writing is not a luxury: it’s an essential part of this whole process. I don’t write because i have nothing better to do, i write because it’s the most important thing that i do. It is the foundation of everything else that i do.

If i look back over time, i can see how ideas have risen and faded away, certain trains of thought gather steam and momentum, others just fizzle out, often linked to the feedback from the community, although one of the things i always try to promise myself is to write what i want to write: i don’t restrict myself too much about the area, as long as it’s always founded in learning. That’s why the blog is so diverse, why we talk about mapreading, mobile technology, museums, engines and community. I write for myself, considering it fortuitous if it resonates with others.

Yesterday i was writing a magazine article for someone else and it was much harder than the writing here, writing where someone else has editorial control is significantly more difficult, which is why blogs or Twitter are so good: you are your own boss.

So, the call to arms: how do you narrate your own learning? It doesn’t have to be long winded, it doesn’t have to be a blog. You could email yourself once a month, just to remind yourself what you’ve achieved and how you’ve changed. If you can’t manage to do even that, you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re learning anything at all, and if you’re not learning, in a world where agility is a survival skill, are you agile enough?

As the relationship between employer and employee changes, as jobs are no longer for life and our relationship with knowledge evolves ever faster, it’s not so much what you know that defines you, it’s not so much the size of your car or the colour of your tie, it’s your agility and your ability to function effectively in your communities, your learning and support networks.

Spend your time where you like, but if you don’t take control of it, someone else will. The time is there: if you don’t take it, it will be stolen or slip away.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Agile, Blog, Blogging, Book, Collaboration, Community, Community of Practice, Disclosure, Education, Ideas, Learning, Legacy, Mindset, Mobile Learning, Narrative, Reflection, Social Learning, Stories, Words, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to How do you find the time to write? Reflection and agility in learning

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