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How to Write Usefully

Components of a good essay

Many people think a good essay is persuasive. But more importantly, an essay should be useful.
There are four parts to a good essay:

  • correctness
  • strength
  • importance
  • novelty

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How to Write Usefully

How to Write Usefully

http://paulgraham.com/useful.html?fbclid=IwAR0Yzz2My9-hrtgMRDShJX_fI__aww2TGnr5PupRveE_PQRBKpn4MqP62R8

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Key Ideas

Components of a good essay

Many people think a good essay is persuasive. But more importantly, an essay should be useful.
There are four parts to a good essay:

  • correctness
  • strength
  • importance
  • novelty

Correctness

An essay should be correct. However, to be correct is not enough if it is vague. 

Don't publish anything unless you're sure it's worth hearing. Write the first draft of an essay quickly, trying out all sorts of ideas. Then rewrite it very carefully, being sure to sift out anything that you're not sure of, or that is not true. Useful writing makes claims that are as strong as they can be without overstating it.

Strength

Strength comes from two things: thinking well, and the skillful use of qualification.

Qualifications can express many things: how broadly something applies, how you know it, how happy you are it's so, even how it could be falsified. As you try to refine the expression of an idea, adjust the qualification accordingly. The more you refine an idea, the less you'll need to qualify it. However, don't underestimate qualification. Learn to use its full range.

Importance

Make something you yourself want.

The reader is not entirely unlike you. If you write about a topic that is important to you, it will seem important to many readers as well.

Novelty

Telling people something novel doesn't always mean surprising them. It could mean telling them something they knew unconsciously but were unable to put into words. In fact, those insights are often more valuable because they are more fundamental.

The way to get novelty is to write about topics you've thought about a lot. Anything you notice that surprises you will probably also surprise many readers. If you don't learn anything from writing an essay, don't publish it.

The writing process

  • Write the first draft of an essay fast, trying various ideas. Then spend time rewriting it very carefully.
  • If you write a bad sentence, don't publish it. Delete it and do it again.
  • If a sentence seems clumsy, ask why it doesn't seem right. By asking this, you'll usually find the replacement right there.
  • Be considerate to the reader: say things as simple as possible.
  • Be humble. If you know you're an expert on some topic, you can admit when you learn something you didn't know.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Jordan Peterson Writing Template

Jordan Peterson Writing Template
Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at The University of Toronto, created a template for his students that takes them step by step through the detailed process of writing an essay.  

Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson

"Thinking makes you act effectively in the world.  Thinking makes you win the battles you undertake...If you can think and speak and write you are absolutely deadly!  NOTHING can get in your way.  That's why you learn to write...It's the most powerful weapon you can possibly provide someone with."

The Levels of Resolution

An essay exists at multiple levels:

  • The choice of words
  • The formation of sentences
  • The arrangement of sentences in a paragraph
  • The arrangement of paragraphs in a logical progression, beginning to end
  • The essay as a whole

A good essay works at every one of those levels simultaneously.

10 more ideas

What is a speech?

What is a speech?

Just like essays, speeches have three main sections:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

However, unlike essays, speeches must be written to ...

Tips on How to Write a Speech Essay

  • Determine the type of speech you're writing. Is it to inform people? Persuade? Entertain?
  • Craft a creative speech introduction with an attention-grabber, statement on your topic and a strong transition to the body.
  • Determine the flow of the body of the speech depending on the information consisting the body.
  • Write a memorable speech conclusion by restating the main points and ending with a memorable speech.
  • Address the key objectives by using some clever quotes, inspirational stories, meaningful transitions and a good ending.

Types of Speeches

  • Informative and Instructional Speech - Used to inform people about a certain topic, event or area of knowledge.
  • Persuasive Speech - Used to persuade people to join one side of an argument.
  • Entertaining Speech - Used to entertain audience, and topics may not be practical.
  • Special Occasion Speech - Used in special occasions to entertain or inform audience such as graduation, toasts, etc.

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Speed and transfer

Consider at what speed you should try to do things in order to improve performance.
We can often learn something quickly, but without attaining a master level (like getting good at esti...

Failing to Reach an Ideal

There are two problems you can encounter when you're trying to learn something.

  1. You have a clear understanding of what you'd like to do and how you're going to do it, but you're unable to implement the approach you've chosen. Slow things down so you can pay more attention to every aspect of the problem.
  2. Speed learning is effective when you're not sure what the ideal should be and need more information to work it out. A good example of speed leading to move closer to quality is in entrepreneurial fields. Many fail because they picked the wrong problem to solve and wasted too much time trying to solve it.

Going faster vs doing it right

The balance between going faster and doing it right depends on what you're trying to achieve.

  • Faster feedback means more information to find out your key challenges and possible solutions.
  • Slower helps you focus on a strategy you've chosen, allowing you to execute it correctly.