Why This Blog?
- the quality of being coherent and intelligible.
- the quality of transparency or purity.
— Oxford Languages
I decided to start this blog because I believe that being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills to master. It is also one of the few topics that I care deeply about. It meants that, first of all, I need to invest the time to master this craft. I also hope that, at some point in the future, I could help others write with clarity and communicate better.
Why effective communication is critically important?
Because so much revolve around written communications in our world, the implication of bad communication is tremendous. You can’t convince people if they don’t understand your point. You can’t discuss with them if you don’t understand their points. Now imagine that both sides misunderstand what the other is trying to say, then everybody is wasting its time. Clear writing saves everybodies time.
On the other hand, when you read clear writing, you get quickly the author’s points, you understand how he or she is getting there and you can decide for yourself if the argument is logically structured and based on sound facts. In other words, if it makes sense to you. Good writing make me think, bad writing makes me struggle. Then I give up on trying to understand the author message.
What is “clear writing” in the context of efficient communication?
While effective communication is the goal, clear writing is the tool to achieve it. Writing in a way that makes it easy for the reader to really understand what the writer is trying to say. When you master clear writing, you can express and support complex ideas, construct arguments and convince the reader.
For me, it is not about writing nice sounding sentences with fancy vocabulary. It is about getting the job done, with minimal effort on the part of the reader to get the point. Getting that can require an extraordinary amount of work from the writer.
Because this blog is focusing on communication, rather than pure entertainment, it means that most of it will be about “non-fiction” type of text. Contents that try to increase the reader understanding. There is a few key characteristics we should thrive when producing this kind of content:
- Informative: Reading a text should bring some value to the reader. Because this is subjective, it means that the author should thrive to communicate as early as possible what this article is about and what a reader could get from it.
- Accurate: whenever the author is providing factual information, he/she should have checked them and provide the sources so that the reader can check too.
- Clear: requires minimal efforts from readers to understand what points the author is making and how he or she is argumenting it. The content should have a carefully defined purpose, logical structure, well-constructed sentences and paragraph and use simple words whenever possible.
- Concise: the text should go to the point, be easy to scan if a reader don’t want to read all the content, don’t go on tangent that doesn’t make the point go forward.
- Entertaining: try to make it not only informative, but also interesting to read.
Of course, not all writing fall this category. Text that focus on entertaining the reader are great too, but this is not the content this blog focus about.
Why this blog?
Let’s be honest, my writing is not that great. It takes me forever to write something that is half decent. I had many cases of trying, and failing, to communicate ideas. That both deeply frustrated me and got me fascinated by writing. Because of that, I decided to work on it. Practice, learn, rinse and improve.
Because “A writer writes”
I need to put the hours to learn the craft. To do that, I want to write a lot about things I care about. Putting this writing publicly is also important. Knowing that somebody could read it forces me to go to the extra miles.
Also having something published is helping me measure my journey and my progress. It makes me feel that I am accumulating something and that I have something to show for it.
It is also getting in the habit to write regularly. I have watched tons of video about writers and all of them say that you have not just to write, but do it every day, like clockwork. It shouldn’t be about motivation, it should be about getting it done, like a job. This makes me think that I should have a goal, like one article a week.
Because I want to record my journey
It is hard to look back at what we have struggled with when we learned something. What where the stuff that was hard to understand or get right at that time. What helped me get over it. This is called “the curse of knowledge”:
The Curse of Knowledge is a difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know. The curse of knowledge is the single best explanation I know of why good people write bad prose.
— The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, Steven Pinker
Because I’d really love to help others with that some time in the future, I need to be aware of what was hard and how I managed to overcome it.
Because I want to deepen my understanding
It is said that clear writing means clear thinking and that there is nothing better to improve your thinking that writing. While I feel that it is true, there is a lot to explore and check in this topic, I can experiment and see if writing about something, sharing my learning, is actually helping me think clearly about it and maybe find gaps in my thinking.
If you can’t write clearly, you probably don’t think nearly as well as you think you do.
— Kurt Vonnegut (2008). “Armageddon in Retrospect”, p.8, Penguin
It is not just about choosing the right word, it also is about structure and articulation of the ideas. How they assemble to make larger ideas.
Here are the topics I think are part of the blog
This blog focus around non-fiction type of writing, like expository writing, persuasive writing, argumentative writing but also journalistic writing too. But it is not just about final product, it is about the process and tools that help you get it.
I want to write about what I learned, the insights, the failures.
- Writing tools
- Writing workflow
- Critical thinking
- Express yourself clearly
- Knowledge work
- Better thinking
- Note taking
- book writing
I plan to start a few other blogs writing about other topics I care about. But I have few times, so I need to focus.
How can you write a blog about something you don’t know a lot about?
I shall not write bullshit or be part of the echo chamber.
An important question is
Because one of my ambitions in life is to avoid writing bullshit stuff in which I try to appear as a knowledgable person, some of expert, giving bullshit advice about stuff he doesn’t really know about, solely repeating what other have said. I think this is an interesting topic and I’ll write an article about it.
Promise 1: I shall be very upfront that this articles are about my personal learning and experience
I will be very clear that none of these articles is written by an expert or provide “advice”. I will never pretend to know something unless I am convinced I know in depth. I shall just report of what I learned, my own discovery and insights. I’ll make sure the accidental read is not misled by stating clearly that this essay are mere practice and that I am not an expert or a reference in the domain.
Promise 2: I shall check facts
I will not mindlessly repeat something as a fact just because this is what everybody has written. I won’t be part of an echo chamber of bullshit information that is repeated again and again with checking. I will identify proposition, even if they are common, and make sure they are backed up by facts.
Promise 3: I will cite sources
Nothing should come from thin air
There is nothing for a reader here… yet
To conclude, I don’t think anybody should read this blog yet. I don’t write clearly, I don’t have deep experience to share or recommendations to do. I just lack the experience and the mastery. But it will come, at some point in the future. Maybe I’ll be able to look back at this.
This blog is, first of all, my practice ground, but putting something outside means a lot to me. It is about getting stuff done.
“Write with clarity” is not just a goal, it is also an injunction: “write with clarity!”. This is a craft that anybody should master.