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How to Use Writing to Sharpen Your Thinking | Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss

"People can like what you write, they can dislike it, they can love it, they can hate it, but it should not confuse anybody."

Tim Ferriss

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How to Use Writing to Sharpen Your Thinking | Tim Ferriss

How to Use Writing to Sharpen Your Thinking | Tim Ferriss

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65U5byDZ55M

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Key Ideas

Sharpening your thinking

Without writing, it's pretty hard to capture and freeze your thinking, so that you can sharpen it: for example, observing when you're using words that are not well defined or when you're saying things that don't need to be said.

Morning pages

An easy way of getting into the habit of writing, of moving a pen with the aim of seeing your thinking on paper, is starting the practice of Morning Pages (3 pages of stream of consciousness).

It helps you by taking your worries and negative thoughts from your head and putting them in a freeze-frame (so that you can go along with the rest of your day) and it also allows you to see when you are dull or sharp in your thinking.

The "3 rounds" technique

... for revising your writing:

  • The first edit is for yourself (what you like and what you think is good)
  • The second round is for the people that like what you write ( the people you think will like your material)
  • The third round is for the critics (for the people that try to find the smallest mistakes in your material).

Using proofreaders

  • Aim to choose people that are not trained to proofread and ask them to highlight the stuff they find confusing.
  • Ask them to note the moment when their minds start to wander while they're reading your material. Opt to take those parts out.
  • Ask them to indicate the 10% of your writing that you should absolutely keep (if there is a 10% that is worth keeping).
  • Ask them which parts they would cut off (10-20%) if they had to cut something.

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss

"People can like what you write, they can dislike it, they can love it, they can hate it, but it should not confuse anybody."

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Setting up and sticking to it is one of the best ways to perfect your writing. 

Do it in the morning for best results, and break it up into small increments to avoid anxiety. Don't write during unscheduled times, either (though jotting down notes is okay—inspiration can strike at the strangest of times). 

Keep Up with Good Grammar

Proofreading is an important part of writing, and despite some folks having a knack for good grammar, none of us is perfect. 

Be sure to take advantage of some of the great word tools out there. Not only will they keep you writing correctly, but they're likely to keep you learning new words and idioms to freshen up your writing.

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If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

- Tim Ferriss

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Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.”

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Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.”

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The first draft

The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.

The time you put into editing, reworking and re...

Common errors

Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:

  • Overuse of jargon and business-speak, like "utilize" or "endeavor" instead of "use" or "try."
  • Clichés are stale phrases that have lost their impact and novelty through overuse. If you are used to seeing it in print, don't use it.
  • The passive voice. The subject of the sentence should be the person or thing taking action, not the thing being acted on. "Harry wrote this article," is better than "This article was written by Harry."
  • Rambling. When you are not sure what you want to say, it is easy to phrase it in three or four different ways. A single concise sentence is generally better.

Give it some space

When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.

The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.

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