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Manoj Rao

Your Average Common Man

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Write bravely. I have made a discovery that is obvious when you consume it second hand. But it is startling once you make it yourself. Here it is:

Writing makes thoughts clearer for yourself

I sound like Captain Obvious, but it is something that forces you to internalize your ideas at a deeper level. Even when the idea you are writing about is not profound enough to deserve an ‘Aha’ moment, the simple things can make surprising connections to existing ideas that would otherwise be stifled by distractions. Writing, either on a paper or otherwise, is a slow task. It gives your brain sufficient time to get past the obvious points about the idea. The act of writing gives use breathing room to toy with the idea playfully. It’s what makes the ‘ShowerThoughts’ possible.

Take this piece about writing itself. The main point was clear to me at a cursory level, however thinking about it more made me understand what you miss when attempt to think about a complex topic without writing it down. It’s like trying to listen to a song in your head without any audio playing. Writing is like listening to a song that you (might) like. It is possible to play it in your head but you miss the richness of the experience. Similarly, writing down makes you reminisce about all the “trivial” details you go through while forming a well formed thought.

When I say writing, I mean writing about it using your favorite tools. It could simply be an old ballpoint pen on a notepad or typing it down your favorite text editor or simply typing an email to yourself while working. The reason this becomes important is, it makes you enjoy what you are doing at a conscious level. Say, the act of writing by typing out a quick paragraph or ten on your favorite laptop gives you enjoyment then you are actually bound to enjoy putting your thoughts down subconsciously, this gives you the freedom to shed inhibitions. It is like having the right drink before you socialize without the downside of doing silly things that usually ensue. You tend to become more confident.

Recently, I read a disparaging tweet about a blog that claimed to be a tutorial. The tweeter was unhappy that the blog dared to claim legitimacy even when it was clear that the author had “just googled for 15 minutes” on the topic. The Internet is teeming with these apparently watered down thoughts from newbies and amateurs. The downside to this is so little and the upside is so large. You always find tiny nuggets of joy when you find a co-sufferer exploring a topic and attempting to put their thoughts down. It is not about the schadenfreude, it underscores the struggles that everybody goes through. In this vain, we should remain particularly forgiving, even encouraging, of blog entries. These are not promoted search results, or promoted tweets or Facebook or Insta Ads. They are mere static pages collecting on deserted seashores. If you happen to skim through enough, you can find a pearl or two. If you are looking for a specific answer, at worst, you perform a mean reversion and read up on stackoverflow. Even if the author has promoted the page because the “tutorial” is an ad in disguise, you should ignore it since any weak attempts at making free content work is bound to fail, because free-market. Ironically, the freer the market is for good content the harder it becomes for articles and blog entries to become popular since the consumer is more impatient towards diluted material. Trust me, you are one of the 17 readers.

If the write-up is visited by none other than yourself, it is a good reflection of your thoughts for future self. It might help you save time in the future or at least be a loose history of your thoughts from the past.

Whatever the reason, in appreciation of all the brave writers who put out their learnings and thoughts, power to you!

Hoping for a tolerant and welcoming 2020 and beyond!