Notes on Writing

Writing is important for so many reasons, so starting to collect notes on writing here. For starters:

(Jeff Bezos famously banned PowerPoints many years ago, on the logic that you can B.S. a presentation, but not a prose memo. In general, I agree with this idea, and would add that I’ve met smart people who were bad writers, but I’ve never met a good writer who wasn’t also smart.)

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it sums up for me.

I’ve met smart people who were bad writers, but I’ve never met a good writer who wasn’t also smart

Writing vs Talking – two interesting links:

Putting Ideas into Words - Paul Graham

this describes what I’ve experienced – we discover a lot when we write. This is one reason I try to dedicate an hour every morning to writing. Real writing (something more than responding to an email) is hard, thus we tend to avoid it. Establishing a writing habit is probably the only way for most of us to make this happen. Even this site, while helpful to me for examining my thinking, is not at the same level as a paper or blog post.

A quote from the article:

The reason I’ve spent so long establishing this rather obvious point is that it leads to another that many people will find shocking. If writing down your ideas always makes them more precise and more complete, then no one who hasn’t written about a topic has fully formed ideas about it. And someone who never writes has no fully formed ideas about anything nontrivial.

It feels to them as if they do, especially if they’re not in the habit of critically examining their own thinking. Ideas can feel complete. It’s only when you try to put them into words that you discover they’re not. So if you never subject your ideas to that test, you’ll not only never have fully formed ideas, but also never realize it.

Putting ideas into words is certainly no guarantee that they’ll be right. Far from it. But though it’s not a sufficient condition, it is a necessary one.

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