11 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2020
    1. But what should you write about? Simply ask yourself, What's bothering you most right now? Write a post where you work through that—and get to a conclusion. This is how I start every time. Writing is therapy that you publish for the world to learn from.
    2. Call a friend, tell them what's on your mind, and jot down the interesting remarks you both make. That'll generate talking points to write from.If you're passionate about an idea but you lack the interesting insights, you need to consume before you produce: Read blogs and books on your topic, highlight interesting parts, and bank good ideas to pull from when writing your first draft.
    3. Instead of worrying, strategize solutions to manage anxiety:Add a disclaimer to your posts: "I'm sharing my rough thoughts as I explore ideas that interest me. I encourage readers to leave comments sharing their own experiences."Instead of claiming ownership over the ideas in your posts, curate other people's ideas and attribute them. Many newsletters, blogs, and Twitter accounts exclusively curate third-party content. Over time, weave in your original thoughts alongside the curated ones. Continually increase the original proportion until you're comfortable being the dominant voice in every post.Write under a pseudonym. Widely-read blogs like Slate Star Codex and The Last Psychiatrist don't publicize their authors' names. It hasn't deterred millions of readers from loving their work. Later, as you become comfortable with readers' reactions, you can consider appending your real name.
    1. So they rewrite it in pursuit of four objectives:ClaritySuccinctnessIntrigueLogicThe enemy of those objectives is being precious about what you’ve said and how you've said it.
    1. The first draft processHere’s the process you'll explore:Choose an objective for your post.Write a messy braindump of your ideas.Transfer your best talking points to an outline.Write your first draft using that outline.
    2. Your voiceSomething wonderful happens when you focus on what interests and surprises you: your voice emerges. Readers begin to notice:What you care about.The perspectives you see the world through.Readers love this. It makes your writing feel personal.
    3. Generate surprising talking points using Paul Graham’s Method: First, learn all the basics on a topic. Then, if you can find new information that surprises even your knowledgeable self, it’ll surprise laypeople too. Again, you are your audience's proxy. There's no need to guess what will surprise them. Hunt for something that surprises you, and you'll surprises them too.
    4. Sustaining your momentumWhen ideas stop flowing, ask yourself:How can I make my point more convincing?What are the interesting implications of what I just said?Repeatedly ask these two questions and keep moving in whichever direction interests you most.
    5. It’s normal if not many ideas come to mind immediately. You’ll discover that the majority of your ideas arrive while writing — not before. You write in order to think.You'll discover even more ideas by resting and reflecting on what you’ve written. The act of writing compels your brain to draw connections between ideas.
    6. Step 1 — Write down your initial thoughtsStart by writing down half-formed thoughts. Brainstorm without structure. Uncork your mind to see what floods out. Your only goal at this stage is to get something slightly interesting onto the page.
    1. First, choose your topicThe best topic to write about is the one you can’t not write about. It’s the idea bouncing around your head that urges you to get to the bottom of it.You can trigger this state of mind with a two-part trick. First, choose an objective for your article:Open people’s eyes by proving the status quo wrong.Articulate something everyone’s thinking about but no one is saying. Cut through the noise.Identify key trends on a topic. Use them to predict the future.Contribute original insights through research and experimentation.Distill an overwhelming topic into something approachable. (This guide.)Share a solution to a tough problem.Tell a suspenseful and emotional story that imparts a lesson.Now pair that objective with a motivation:Does writing this article get something off your chest?Does it help reason through a nagging, unsolved problem you have?Does it persuade others to do something you believe is important?Do you obsess over the topic and want others to geek out over it too?That’s all that's needed: Pair an objective with a motivation. Now you have something to talk about.