Consistency is Not the Key to Writing Well [Letter#10]

Why Consistency is Not the Key to Writing Well?

The most prevalent advice about writing is to write consistently. There are writing platforms that encourage daily writing and keep track of your streak. So let's say you've been writing consistently for 10 weeks and have 10 essays published. You know that some people have read your writing but you don't know their reaction to anything specific. How motivated do you feel to write that 11th post?

If your goal with writing is to improve your ability to articulate your thoughts and communicate ideas effectively, it's difficult to...Keep Reading

Do You Have a Place to Publish Your Writing?

"When we remove the pre (finding the  pen, the paper, the notebook, the software) and the post (finding a way  to publish it), it turns out that we write more often, and writing more  often leads to writing better."

If you've created a single place to publish online, and every time you sit down to write you don't have to decide how to share your work or think about the tools, you're already ahead. In case you don't already have a place, here's a possible option. I've been using Ghost for about a year. You can certainly use the paid plan ($29/month) for peace of mind of not having to do any configuration yourself. But if you'd rather save that money, you can self-host Ghost and pay only $5/month for a Digital Ocean droplet. I can confirm that the droplet setup is as straightforward as advertised - you login, hit 'enter' a couple times and type in your email address. This will setup a blog at your domain including SSL using Let's Encrypt (so you have an 'https' in your url instead o 'http'). I'm still streamlining other tools around my writing, but I'm pretty happy with the clean and minimal feel of writing in Ghost as well as the uncluttered admin dashboard.

Takeaways From This Week's Learning

When I spend time consuming long-form content, I synthesize key takeaways and share them here.

The Craft of Writing Effectively - This week it was a video lecture from a writing program at University of Chicago. The video is almost 1.5 hours long. If you have the time I recommend watching the first half. That part contains the ideas about writing most relevant for entrepreneurs.

Context - this is a lecture given to graduate students interested academic writing for journal publications. For Expert Writers, meaning writers who have expertise in the topic they are writing about (not necessarily expertise in writing). Here are some takeaways that we can apply:

1. Writing is often taught in a bottom-up way, rules about making it clear, well-organized, persuasive, etc. This focuses on the words. But that does not produce valuable writing. A top-down way of thinking about writing focuses on the reader. Good writing needs to be valuable. Value lies with the reader not within the words. It has to answer the implicit reader question of 'why should I care'.

2. The function of good writing is to move the conversation forward (in your field). Knowledge is cumulative. Goal of writing is not to document and preserve information indefinitely, it's a way to participate in the world. Good writing is not about sharing your thoughts and ideas but about changing other people's thoughts and ideas.

3. Most writing that involves explanations (for teaching concepts) is bad. This is because people have learned to explain under the model of demonstrating to someone that they understand it (mainly to teachers in school). They seek to impress the expert reader and miss the mark in guiding the learner.
 
One last thing, the speaker uses this phrase too pale, too male, too stale to describe himself at one point. A euphemism for 'old white man'. I like this use of humor to acknowledge his awareness of a reality.

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