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Just Write It
Forget the noise, trust the process.
Writing is the process by which you realize you do not understand what you are talking about. Importantly, it’s also the process by which you figure it out.
In a world where AI-generated content will become the norm, “writing” will largely involve asking a chatbot to explain or summarize a text, combine ideas, or create a blog post from an outline in 60 seconds or less.
The signal-to-noise ratio is on the verge of changing dramatically - almost anyone will appear to know what they are talking about.
It’s easy to believe that content, specifically written content, will become a commodity. I view writing as a proxy for thinking and think that good writing will be more valuable, not less.
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Paul Graham once wrote that “a good writer doesn’t just think…a good writer will almost always discover new things in the process of writing”. Great writing equals great thinking.
Good writing can be rewriting an existing concept in a way that helps people understand it better. Great writing combines two or more ideas in a novel way. The best writing is an arbitrage of capturing ideas and communicating to people in a way that helps them understand what they already intuitively know.
Notice though, that ideas behind great writing don’t have to be unique. After all, there are over 1,000 biographies on Winston Churchill. We don’t have to be inventive in our writing to have an insight or get something from it ourselves.
We can think of the total amount of ideas in the universe as being a constant. We’ve held the same principles and fantasies throughout time and culture, we’ve told the same stories over and over again, just in different forms. -
Good writing is also often a by-product of good reading. Great writers are generally rabid readers and content sponges. Quality writing is a symptom of a quality content diet.
Public writing creates permissionless leverage. An archive of content allows people to find us, explore the idea of working with us, and get to know us all before our first interactions - that’s powerful. Even more powerful is that it leaves a record about us for our kids to explore.
Of course, public writing means opening yourself up to ridicule and endless feedback from the cheap seats. But, I’ve realized that most people who criticize from the sidelines do so because they’re on the sidelines - too afraid of failure to jump into the arena.
I didn’t initially start writing to build an audience, but I became fixated on it and those cheap seat opinions at some point during COVID.
Recently, I re-framed my perspective on the audience. Depending on the platform, I have between 1,000-6,000 followers - that’s not a large number. Yet, if I were on a panel or speaking to an audience of even 50, I’d be excited and nervous, but I’d deliver my point nonetheless. Perspective matters.
Dropping the mentality of what people will think and who is reading helped me re-discover why I write - to connect my interests and thoughts in an enduring and actionable way.
At the same time, and not surprisingly, I realized my favorite writers weren’t the ones exclusively tied to their niche but the ones who were able to operate on the fringes of it. I envied this ability to both create between concepts and grow audiences - that’s when you realize your thinking is distinctive and resonates. It’s what I aspire to.
Writers like Paul Graham, Kyle Harrison () , Tom Morgan, , Morgan Housel, and seamlessly integrate their day jobs into broader topics across core disciplines - that seems like more fun.
And that’s the secret, people who have more fun are more consistent and less likely to quit.
Most people quit because they don’t enjoy something. By liking what you do, you will inevitably form a positive relationship with the work and want to do more of it. Then the only challenge is creating space in your life to let it happen.
This leads to a secret of writing. You can become a top-decile performer just from consistency because most people quit too early. After all, it’s hard, and they haven’t found a way to enjoy the process along the way.
As it turns out, that’s not just a secret to writing; it’s the secret to just about anything.