Tagged with writing

How To Write Effectively

A colleague recommended this video the other day, and it is indeed very worthwhile 80 minutes of your time, if you do any kind of scholarly writing, or are at least somewhat interested in writing at all.

Just a few take-aways:

Nobody cares about the inside of your head. Unless they are paid to do so.

Don't explain to show you've understood something.

Oftentimes we write because it helps us think. This is fine but orthogonal to how it gets read, thus rewrite for specific target reader.

Writing success is to make it valuable to the reader.

What you write is not for eternity, it is to bring the conversation forward.

The performance of the speaker felt over the top at times, I was reminded of how faith healers talk:

"Forget everything you think you knew! Even the things that I tell you you thought, even though you did not think you did. Because here comes the revelation!!1!

But it became clear that he is much self-aware of this and manages to keep an undertone of irony and self-deprecation throughout. At the end he apologizes for being theatrical. Here's the link once more.

One thing I very much like about my current role at work, is that I do not have to write grant proposals and journal articles any more. I was never comfortable with that and therefore not good at it either. Would this video have helped, had I seen it during my time as a student? Maybe. But is quite possible that past me would not have understood it.

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This blog holds no world-shattering insights. I don't have something interesting to say every day (ever?), but the point is to write it down anyway. Just in case a good thought comes by eventually, then the routines are in place to capture it.

But the blog spammers have rediscovered the comment fields, so there's that.

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In my fresh attempt to blog daily, today is the first time that I don't know what to write about. I am sure this will happen frequently and getting over it is part of the point. Behaviours only become habits when you follow the rule.

I could tell you about that great podcast I just discovered, or the crappy film I watched last night, or I could show you a picture of where in the forest I put up the slaguggleholk this morning. But I won't do that today. Instead I'll just ramble on for a while. Stream-of-consciousness writing they call it, I think. This term might be something my brain just made up on its own but I won't look it up right now. If it isn't a real thing, it should be. James Joyce's Ulysses comes to mind in this context, but I might be wrong about that; I have never read it.

Damn, now I looked it up anyway: James Joyce's name had slipped my mind and of course Wikipedia tells you immediately that he is famous for stream of consciousness, so there's that.

Talking about consciousness, I used to roll my eyes when someone tried to tell that there is a point to "subjective first-person experience" as compared to the "objective third-person" perspective. I'm not so sure about that anymore, not because I've gotten into new-agey woo-woo kinds of things, but because it makes rational sense to me that there are things to learn about one's own mind by paying closer attention to what it does minute-to-minute.

More about that at a later time. For today this will suffice for me to feel good about having blogged something. Not setting goals too high at the outset of a new adventure is a good thing, they say. Whoever "they" are.

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How difficult it is to consistently post on a blog! One easily gets awe-stricken by people like Tyler or Scott who put out large amounts of interesting material, without having this as their main gig.

I won't pretend I'll be able to get to their level anytime soon, but starting small and from scratch again should make it easier to form new habits. And practice matters in writing, they say.

To put it in different words: I have outsourced my babble to podcasts and books too much, and need to flex my own text generator again. Re-phrasing thoughts fosters their synthesis.

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