Not to be Published!

Write About Something You Know Nothing About

Yes, I know: browsing social media, it often feels like that is what many people do. So, let me be clear: writing about something you don’t know is a great practice, but it is not meant for sharing.

Writing about things you know inside out is not always trivial, but it is an entirely different experience than starting with zero knowledge and insights. To write something, as simple as it may be, about a topic you know nothing about requires research and processing. You need to read, ask, form an opinion, and challenge it before you can even phrase the first paragraph, which is an exercise worth doing.

Every muscle you exercise when you experiment with writing about a topic you know nothing about will be helpful also when you write about things in your natural domain. Experiencing how it is to start from scratch with no prior knowledge can bring you closer to your audience. In many cases, this is how they experience your content.

Hold on to this feeling and the insights it triggers next time you write your public content.

Write the Opposite of what you Think

Why on earth would you spend your precious time writing something opposite to what you think? Surely, you are not going to publish it. Well, the thing is, this is an excellent thought exercise and one that can also help you crystallize your insights. Thinking about the opposite view, and even more so trying to phrase it eloquently in writing, is not trivial, but it provides you with a fresh perspective by definition.

In some cases writing the opposite argument will help you develop better arguments for your view. It will help you structure your “real” text better simply because you have tried to walk in the shoes of someone representing the opposite view.

But there is always a chance this thought exercise will help you gain new insights, not just a new way to phrase your view. Maybe you won’t switch sides, but you will discover nuances that make your view (not just your arguments) better, more fine-tuned, and sometimes even different from where you have started.

Write in a Language You Don’t Master

Writing in a less fluent language might feel awkward, and you should seriously consider whether the outcome is publishable or not. But when you have a smaller, maybe less sophisticated, vocabulary to express your thoughts, the result is often easier to understand and more focused.

Expressing ideas in the simplest terms possible is a good thought exercise. It is an effective method to process your thought and reduce them to their effective core. We can certainly do that using your native language, but it is often much more challenging because we are tempted to harness the language to create complex logical structures. With a language we do not master, we usually stick to more straightforward sentences and words. The result, even if it is merely an interim result, is often the core of what we wish to express in its simplest form.

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