I often write things out to make them clear in my own mind. This works particularly well for detailed planning. Just as some people "don't know what they think until they hear themselves say it", I don't know what I think until I write it down. (Fast typing is an invaluable skill.)

Sometimes I use the same approach to work out what I think, know or believe about a subject. I write a sort of evolving essay laying out what I think or know.

And now I wonder: how much of that is true for other people? For instance, when Eliezer set out to write the Sequences, did he already know or believe everything that is written in them? Or did he gradually discover what is in them as he wrote them? If he hadn't known some of what is written, could he have discovered it via the process of trying to write? Or is intellectual reflection and working-out premises into conclusions experienced differently by other people?

I do this by talking to myself. It attracts odd looks from loved ones, but it works for me so I'm going to keep doing it, dammit.

1Qiaochu_Yuan7yWhich part is "that"? The fact that you write things out to make them clearer in your mind or the fact that writing things out makes them clearer in your mind? I think the latter is true for many people but the former is an uncommon habit. I didn't explicitly pick it up until after attending the January CFAR workshop.
1erratio7yIt's very much how I operate as well. Talking it out also works, but it needs to be the right kind of person at the right time, whereas writing pretty much always works.

Open thread, August 12-18, 2013

by David_Gerard 1 min read12th Aug 2013125 comments


If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.