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Writing is Distilling

3 Mar 2014 - San Francisco

There is the widely quoted heuristic, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice will make you an expert in a particular domain. I think that If I were to choose to spend 10,000 hours deliberating practicing one skill, it would be writing.

Writing seems to be a process that distills thoughts. Thoughts tend to coalesce in the mind as nebulous and unstructured entities. They may exist as fragmentations of sentences, images, emotions, sounds or in other vague forms. Writing forces one to shine a light onto dusty, unclear thoughts. As I attempt to articulate myself through writing, I notice the cracks, smudges and smears in my mind.

Writing forces oneself to be precise, choosing only the most appropriate words to define and clarify your ideas. By writing down my thoughts, I can then analyze them for weaknesses, inconsistencies or contradictions. As such, through writing on this blog, I hope to make my thoughts more robust and cogent.

Blogging publically further compounds the advantage of writing: knowing that others will be reading my thoughts is one filter that implicitly causes me to carefully analyze and vet my thoughts before typing them.

However, I do feel that there’s something innately limiting about writing. I think it has to do with the fact that words are artificial human constructs. They are often poor mediums of capturing the intensity of feeling, context and sensation that goes into truly understanding something. A rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but no matter what evocative name we conjure up for it, the essence of its beauty or fragrance cannot be captured through just words.

Forms of writing unburdened by the structure of prose, such as poetry, come closer towards approximating the uncapturable. We hear poems being described as ‘beautiful’ more often than we do pieces of prose.

Nevertheless, I’m still excited by the benefits to the mind that writing will bring.

Here’s to 10,000 hours.