FAQ: “How do I get better at writing?”
Me: Write a million words.
Follow up: “Hah but seriously.”
Me: Start with 20,000 words. Everyone gets to that 50 times in their first million.
Follow up: “No seriously.”
Me: Nobody expects 10 Quick Tips To Play Violin At Carnegie Hall.
More from Patrick McKenzie
Fun going down this list and thinking: "Hmm, plausible at a well-run modern software shop", "Hmm, possible, but requires implausible tradeoffs", "Literally disallowed by languages", and "If you were to attempt doing that our test suite wouldn't let you merge."
I think we as an industry celebrate (not quite the right word) failure too much and don't celebrate success nearly enough. There is no DailyWTF for competent execution, word of which generally stays pretty local to the source while incompetence passes into legend.
Alrighty let me try to thread the needle on being the change I want to see in the world while not giving away anything that will get me in trouble:
Ruby has wonderful developer ergonomics. Typed languages are easier for machines to guarantee the correctness of. We built a type checker for Ruby (and I believe it is slated for OSS release sometime).
For technical founders it is irrationally, obscenely hard to reverse years of programming (ba dum bum) that sales is a value-destroying activity. Sales is CLEARLY a value-creating activity, contingent on you have a value-creating product.
The world will not drop what they are doing to adopt your work. This is particularly true in B2B, where simply building a better mousetrap won't overcome the activation energy required to get people with additional non-mice problems to prioritize changing mousetraps today.
This is very non-obvious for founders because founders are not often people who *want* to be sold to. We often come from a background where trying out tools is a bit of a fun hobby. We like looking at all the options, making charts, and ripping out partially complete tests.
"This week I unsuccessfully trialed four software options for automating that thing that has been killing us. Our actual production process remains the same as last week. Don't worry; this was a great use of time." is not a thing you want to write in a progress report to manager.
How to put this in regular finance terms...
Suppose hypothetically you have an account at a brokerage with some valuable asset in it. You take a margin loan against that asset to fund your normal spending, or pay a tax bill, or maybe buy something at another brokerage.
For reasons known only to the brokerage, they don't denominate your loan in dollars. They denominate it in shares of a money market fund, which are worth $1 +/- epsilon and basically never deviate from that.
And you think "Hmm, I have a large equity cushion against this loan."
One day, a computer system at the brokerage reports, sorta-kinda erroneously, that the value of the money market fund is actually $1.30 per share. The equity cushion is gone. Your valuable asset is sold, at timing you didn't choose, at wrong price, to pay an inflated phantom debt
And your recourse is... probably tweeting at patio11 saying he finds too much joy in this.
Which I don't; I just feel like this is why you don't trust a CPU built out of redstone to build reliable financial infrastructure on top of.
If everyone was holding bitcoin on the old x86 in their parents basement, we would be finding a price bottom. The problem is the risk is all pooled at a few brokerages and a network of rotten exchanges with counter party risk that makes AIG circa 2008 look like a good credit.— Greg Wester (@gwestr) November 25, 2018
The benign product is sovereign programmable money, which is historically a niche interest of folks with a relatively clustered set of beliefs about the state, the literary merit of Snow Crash, and the utility of gold to the modern economy.
This product has narrow appeal and, accordingly, is worth about as much as everything else on a 486 sitting in someone's basement is worth.
The other product is investment scams, which have approximately the best product market fit of anything produced by humans. In no age, in no country, in no city, at no level of sophistication do people consistently say "Actually I would prefer not to get money for nothing."
This product needs the exchanges like they need oxygen, because the value of it is directly tied to having payment rails to move real currency into the ecosystem and some jurisdictional and regulatory legerdemain to stay one step ahead of the banhammer.
Here's how I'd measure the health of any tech company:— Jeff Atwood (@codinghorror) October 25, 2018
How long, as measured from the inception of idea to the modified software arriving in the user's hands, does it take to roll out a *1 word copy change* in your primary product?
How long does it take, measured from initial expression of interest through offer of employment signed, for a typical candidate cold inbounding to the company?
What is the *theoretical minimum* for *any* candidate?
How long does it take, as a developer newly hired at the company:
* To get a fully credentialed machine issued to you
* To get a fully functional development environment on that machine which could push code to production immediately
* To solo ship one material quanta of work
How long does it take, from first idea floated to "It's on the Internet", to create a piece of marketing collateral.
(For bonus points: break down by ambitiousness / form factor.)
How many people have to say yes to do something which is clearly worth doing which costs $5,000 / $15,000 / $250,000 and has never been done before.
More from Writing
So why do I now write one million words per year?
Because I discovered writing is a superpower.
Here are 67 benefits of writing.
1) 🧠 Clear your mind.
Stop using your brain as storage.
Start using your brain as processing power.
2) 💬 Communicate better.
Clear writers are clear thinkers.
Clear thinkers are clear communicators.
3) 👥 Build community.
Attract likeminded people.
Help connect people with similar interests who would have otherwise never met.
To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.
4) 👩🏻🏫 Teach what you know.
You don’t have to be an expert to teach.
Leaders are seen as experts BECAUSE they teach.
Teach the person one step behind you.
In Asheville, North Carolina, go buy or order some great books by authors you love (hint, hint) via @Malaprops! #NationalAuthorsDay
In Chapel Hill, NC visit @FlyleafBooks. If they don't have my books in stock, I bet they'll order them for you! This is also true for other authors! #NationalAuthorsDay
In New York and NJ visit @wordbookstores! Ask for my books if they don't have them, and also buy lots of stuff by other authors! #NationalAuthorsDay
In Washington, D.C. visit @PoliticsProse for all your #NationalAuthorsDay needs. Ask for my books and those of hometown hero @baratunde and also buy cute objects!
Writing tip: let\u2019s talk about the INACTIVE PROTAGONIST. I\u2019ve seen a lot of amazing books lately with incredible plots, intricate worlds, and just really great writing with one recurring issue, which is the inactive protagonist. I think it can get tough when you\u2019re writing (1/10)— Briston Brooks (@briston_brooks) January 26, 2021
Often, our protags are just trying to survive overwhelming odds. Survival is an active choice, you know. Survival is a story. Choosing to be strong in the face of the world ending, even if you can't blast a wall down to do it, is a choice.
It's how we live these days.
Western editors, readers, and writers are too married to the three-act structure, to the type of storytelling that is driven by conflict, to that go-getter individualism. Please read more widely out of your comfort zone. A lot of great non-western stories do not hinge on these.
Sometimes I wonder if you're all so hopped up on the conflict-driven story because that's exactly how your colonizer ancestors dealt with people different from them. Oops, I said it, sorry not sorry. Yes, even this mindset has roots in colonialism, deal with it.
If you want examples of non-conflict-driven storytelling google the following: kishoutenketsu, johakyu, daisy chain storytelling/wheel spoke storytelling. There was another one whose name I forgot but I will tweet it when I recall it.
Here's how I've mastered it. THREAD!
1. You need to write an ugly first draft.
This doesn’t have to be pretty, make sense, or go into detail yet — it just needs to be words on the page.
I’ve seen lots of people talk about the idea of “writing ugly” at a high level, but not many that spell out how to do it.
2. First things first: Create a framework.
Before you try to get too in-depth, create a loose framework. It should look something like:
· Specific Points/Ideas/Tips
This allows you to visualize what you'll build upon. It’s your road map.
3. Middle First
You’ll want to focus on the middle section of your outline first. Nail down the examples or points you want to walk through.
Include internal + external resources (and quotes!) for reference. Bullet points work well here.
Once you have the middle section complete, look at it as a whole to determine what kind of background information you need to share so the reader has relevant context.
This could be a fictional scenario, a story, a quote — something that provides a backdrop.
Simple Writing Trick to Avoid Plagiarism when using Templates
This may be useful for anyone but the examples here are more relevant to scholarship applicants
In other words, how to avoid the copy & paste syndrome.
Kindly RT to help others.
The past week brought some concerns about plagiarism in scholarship documents. For example:
I got a call from the recruitment office at a Canadian university today and the issue was most of the Nigerians who applied there have almost the same Statement of Purpose letters. Please show originality in your applications, use your own words......1/3— Tosin AJ (@ajibz_tosin) January 20, 2021
Plagiarism is unacceptable at any level in academia and may lead to several undesirable outcomes, including revocation of admission offers or conferred degrees. So here is how you can prevent or rid yourself of the copy&paste syndrome
1. Don't use any template at all.
Just follow the darn instructions, or use helpful tips scattered all over the internet. Worry less about perfection.
I understand this may be hard for less experienced scholars. So if you must use a template, continue with the thread.
2. If possible, find more than one template.
This helps you identify the flow of ideas and the commonalities in the template. You can then develop your own unique document from this knowledge.
If you are still confused and must use a template, continue with the thread
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3-Strong eye contact
4-Fluid hand gestures
5-Let’s others talk more
6-Listens & relates
7-Comfortable Touching people
8-Walk with a swagger
9-Speaks at slower pace
10-Keeps calm under criticism
[ QUICK THREAD ]
How do you feel when you see someone that looks angry?
It’s a downer
No one will want to interact with you if you look pissed all of the time, it’s just negative energy
Plus, smiling is a sign of confidence and boosts others moods
Don’t walk Into any social setting looking like the hunchback
It’s weak and makes you look low energy
Plus, you’re displaying low status with weak posture
Stand up straight with your chin up & chest out like a god
Walk like you’re proud of yourself
3- Strong eye contact
Ever shake someone’s hand & their eyes are either looking down or darting?
It’s weak & you probably won’t trust them
Or in conversation?
Eye contact while talking means you’re listening and paying *Attention*
Strong eye contact displays confidence
4-Fluid hand gestures
Use your hands to talk & express your points
Don’t stand there like a robot
Using the hands can make what you’re talking about exciting
It can also be used to emphasize
Exciting = positive emotion
Remember, making people FEEL is what’s important
Cherthala Karthyayani Temple Prathishta was done by Vilwamangalam Swamy. Chertala Pooram is very famous. Devi is Mangalya Dayini here removes obstacles relating to marriages. Sthala Puranam says that, once 👇
Vilwamangalam Swamiyar was passing this area after Prathista of Padmananbhaswamy Temple, he felt Devi chaitanyam and recognized as Karthyayani Devi. But Devi seeing Vilwamangalam went inside the pond. Swamy searched for Devi continously for 6 days and on 7th day Vilwamangalam
got hold of Devi's hair. Thus only Devi's head is Prathishta here. Devotees do Kozhi parathal ( offering cock) here as an offering to Karthyayani Devi.
I'm giving up on social media consumption too.
So little substance.
Need to devote more time doing. More time creating.
Who needs another "5 ways to boost growth" post? I click and am disappointed every time. Not again.
I don't want to poop on content marketing, but marketers need to step it up.
Or at least, founders need to know that doing something is not always better than doing nothing.
Why is content marketing not as effective as it used to be? An innumerable amount of factors...
But one things for damn sure.
Things have to change.
Two of the chief sins:
1. Unoriginal research/story/study/etc
2. Not having anything more to add that's meaningful
Why blog/podcast/vlog/etc about something that's already been said? Already been done?
Do we really need another interview with founder of x hot startup? Do we really need another ultimate guide about facebook ads?
Not all content is like this...
Sometimes, you get an occasional piece that truly leaves you better off than you were before. That doesn't make you want to skim.
An original case study. A first time interview with a founder. An honest account of an experiment. An explanation of a change, shift, or realization.
Legacy site *downloads* ~630 KB CSS per theme and writing direction.
3,370 unique declarations
44 media queries
36 unique colors
50 unique background colors
46 unique font sizes
39 unique z-indices
PWA *incrementally generates* ~30 KB CSS that handles all themes and writing directions.
730 unique declarations
0 media queries
11 unique colors
32 unique background colors
15 unique font sizes
7 unique z-indices
The legacy site's CSS is what happens when hundreds of people directly write CSS over many years. Specificity wars, redundancy, a house of cards that can't be fixed. The result is extremely inefficient and error-prone styling that punishes users and developers.
The PWA's CSS is generated on-demand by a JS framework that manages styles and outputs "atomic CSS". The framework can enforce strict constraints and perform optimisations, which is why the CSS is so much smaller and safer. Style conflicts and unbounded CSS growth are avoided.
The PageRank algorithm gives each page a rating of its
importance, which is a recursively defined measure of importance, based on if important pages link to it.
It's recursive because the importance of a page refers back to the importance of other pages that link to it
Here's how it works in practice:
1⃣ We start with some pages and crawl them for links
2⃣ Each page has 1/N points (where N as the total number of pages)
3⃣ Add points to each page for the amount of links to it, divided by the number
of links emanating from the sources of these links