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Writing to think

 ·  ☕ 5 min read

    Why write regularly?

    So I’m always told I need to write more. I’ve always agreed, but never did anything about it. I have countless post and article ideas jotted down in various places, even a bunch of drafts that never actually got finished. I’ve always wanted to write more, but just never completed anything with any regular cadence. After a few boosts in the past few days, I’ve been convinced to actually do something. So I’m gonna just start rambling here to help myself think, through writing. This effort is mostly motivated by two things that recently happened to me.

    Let’s go through those two occurrences that pushed me over the edge to do something. Maybe they’ll help you if you’re reading this, but mostly this is just me committing myself to writing.

    In order to think at a high level, writing is required.

    Firstly, I was turned onto a video about writing from Jarrad Hope because we often talk about writing. It’s a video recording from a course on writing from the University of Chicago called “The Craft of Writing Effectively.” He’s a bit overly theatrical, but it’s a teaching style that seems to work for him.

    I’d highly recommend watching it, and going through the complimentary handout that he references during the video. I’ll be pulling a few concepts from the video in this post.

    One reoccurring theme of the video is about how high level professionals write and why their audience is reading often in conflict with one another. They researcher writes for two reasons: to facilitate thinking, and to “paint a picture of the world they perceive for others through text.” According to the speaker, the reader is reading because they think it is valuable to them.

    While the video focuses mostly how these two things are in conflict, and what you can do to fix your professional writing, I wanted to highlight here the first concept. That writing is used for thinking at a high level. Despite being steeped in academia, experiencing writing peer-reviewed articles, note taking and countless essays, this seemed to strike me as novel.

    Yet I’ve often said or thought things that implied this: “need to write that down to solidify it,” “I should write something about this so I know I understand it,” or “I should work through that to see if it’s a viable idea.” To add to this, I’ve always told others that Feynman’s focus on learning through teaching was an optimal way of learning. Here’s an article to what some call The Feynman Method to learn more.

    I’ll probably write another post about this concept in depth; why writing is a requirement for deep thinking.

    In any event, I internally understood the need to write in order to understand deeply, yet I don’t do it. The obvious explanation is the fact that it simply isn’t a habit for me. Luckily, after having this thrown into my face after watching this video, something else happened to me that pushed me to starting.

    Forming habits is a skill, you have to work at it to be good.

    The second motivation for this is from a recent chat with a buddy of mine over coffee. We were discussing how I need to write more in order to crystallize my thoughts around various topics in Web3. I agreed with him that I should write more, and then started talking about all the roadblocks I currently have that keep me from writing. He looked at me, told me I was just making excuses (I was), and convinced me I should try to at least write once a day, or myself. He extolled the benefits he’s found doing it (quite impressively, everyday at Never Stop Marketing).

    It was clear that I don’t write because I don’t write. It’s that simple. Habits are formed via repetition, and if you want to have a habit, then you have to start doing it regularly. We discussed his routine for pumping out material and how it fits into his overall day, talked about referential and helpful material like the boot Atomic Habits by James Clear, and a myriad of ways to stick with it.

    In a very Google fashion, later that night I then saw a video on Atomic Habits, leaving it hear to remember to watch it an in case the reader is curious.

    Bringing it together

    So here I am, writing. I already feel as though writing this article has helped me organize the thoughts around writing as thinking, habit forming, and my plan do get up off my ass and do the things I saw I want to.

    Now to find out ways to conquer the roadblocks I make for myself:

    • Incessantly tinkering with the process to procrastinating doing it. the ol’ constant “How can I make this the most efficient process ever so that I do it” so that I never have to do it.
    • Life getting in the way, and not making the time.
    • Just not keeping high priority on doing it.

    As an aside, another future article should focus on how it required multiple things to serendipitously line up to get my ass in gear to do something. I’ve always found it interesting how motivators come together to make change, and how to place yourself in the optimal place in life to get things done.

    Wish me luck, and big thanks to the folks that motivate me to be better.

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    Corey Petty, PhD
    WRITTEN BY
    Corey Petty, PhD
    Developer/Podcaster/Researcher