🧠 Second Brain


Search IconIcon to open search


Last updated May 7, 2024

Writing has been my new job, at least part-time, since I joined Airbyte. So, how do you get better, and what about writing makes it so hard?

Writing is deep thinking and gives you Clarity

# Approaches

The Best Writing can’t be Planned

The best writing can’t be planned; it just comes to you. Writing is challenging but rewarding at the same time because you never know what the outcome will be like ✨. Always keep in mind: It’s easy to start, hard to finish. My Tweet

Approaches to how I write are in my Second Brain. I will write Fleeting Notes, collect Literature Notes mostly Readwise synced directly into Obsidian, write them out as Permanent Notes, and tag them as #publish to move them to my public brain.

I was having this all accessible in one place, connecting and Linking Your Thinking (LYT) notes and ideas with each other, sparking many new ideas and inspirations I didn’t have before.

I like the quote from RW Writing Handbook by Julian Shapiro:

Writing is one of the most radical things you can do without money. Skilled writers change the world from their couches.

Writing is “scalable teaching”:

Writing is the most scalable professional networking activity - stay home, don’t go to events/conferences, and just put ideas down.”

# Process

I always need to remind myself:
Writing is hard! It’s easy to start, hard to finish. You get stuck, you have a blockage, your creativity is low, you get interrupted, and you lose confidence in your writing. Reminding myself that the first 10 minutes are the hardest and envisioning the end product keeps me motivated.

Public Narrative, Collective Action, and Power (now, us and self)

  1. A story of now
  2. A story of us
  3. A story of self

This is what brought me to writing. To release my thoughts (brain dump), make my brain accessible for more, and be creative. I like to brainstorm, change, delete, add, research, and do the thinking while writing. When writing on a computer, I can do it almost at the speed of my thinking; I do not lose thoughts as I would when writing on paper (Journaling). I can stop at any given time and come back, as all the thinking is written down. As well, I love the editing part. Making it better, finding correlations, and things I wouldn’t have expected before.

But before getting into the editing phase, during the initial phase, when drafting or coming up with the content itself, I try to get into distraction-free Flow. Long chunks of uninterrupted time, Cal Newport talks about Deep Work in his book.

Usually, editing is when I learn the most, but at the same time, it’s also the most challenging step. I will get into a Writers Block and want to start a new thing instead. But by switching between Creativity vs Productivity or just going into nature with my thoughts and nothing else, usually one of them helps. Or if not, I leave it for a couple of days, weeks, or months and come back another time. Keeping the Ultradian Rhythm in mind also helps overcome the initial hardest ten minutes.

When I let the writing stay for a while, that typically leads to better quality because when I come back, I have new insight and might delete or change existing thoughts. The longer the wait, the more insightful that note will get. Therefore I like keeping it slow. In the end, the reader will not mind if you spend one day or three months on an article; he appreciates it if the reader flow is good and he can learn. At least that is my goal as a writer, to give some learnings to the readers.

Writing doesn’t always need to be about an article. You can just put some thought, Journaling, or something you learned or find interesting, into a note. Save it for later. You mostly don’t need the thing you just knew at that moment. Something you find interesting today is doubtful to be of value right now. But maybe in two years from now.

Other things I’m pondering are Writing a good intro, How to Write (Titles, Heading, Bolding, etc.), Long vs Short Form Posts, RW Writing One Sentence Per Line Derek Sivers, Writing- Copy Work, Learn in Public, or 1000 True Fans. As well as having found my writing voice was important. In short, I need to write from experience and cannot create a free story—more in My Writing Process and My Writing Voice.

More on Writing Effectively and How to Write Well.

David Perell

Writing is so painful when you write about something you do not care about and so blissful when you write with your principles aligned. Writing from a blank page reveals the true things you deeply care about. YouTube with Paul Millerd

# The Skill

Writing is one of the most translational skills there is. If you can’t articulate well what you are going to do to explain a problem or write anything to your colleagues, the outcome is a misunderstanding, forth and backs, and just a whole lot more communication.

# Getting Better

On the other hand, as I write more, I also want to learn more and get better at it; learn how to write well.

I started a long time ago with a blog back in 2005, and it was probably one of the best decisions for my writing portfolio or career. Besides loving to design and create websites for a long, it’s also felt that I could keep my content over time. Imagine only lately with platforms such as Medium and Substack; they come and go. Simon Willson says the same in his Tweets (Tweets From Simon Willison):

Start a blog! The best time to start one was twenty years ago. The second best time is today.

Write Simply, with Clarity and the Audience in mind, or short, Write Simply.
How to get a Better Writer. The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online by David Perell.

Related The Most Important Skill… for writing is storytelling, Nathan says. And Writing well by Julian Shapiro.

# Good Writing

Good writing is as you’d write a love letter; you don’t write from experience; you write down emotions and feelings( 1).

# Feedback loop

The best way to grow as a writer is to share publicly. Much of Learn in Public is saying. Why? Because you get that feedback loop and you can verify your ideas.

The fastest feedback loop is live teaching. You see directly in people’s faces if something landed or not. That’s also why comedy is so close to writing, much as Jamie Foxx said. Standup comedy is like writing; they test and distill different ideas on different shows until the very end, where only the best of the best jokes are left. The same should be with the writing. More on How to Write Well.

# Distribution of the Writing

Origin: Writing a good intro
References: #publish
Created 2022-08-19