Key takeaways


  • Writing about something, even something you know well, usually shows you that you didn’t know it as well as you thought. Putting ideas into words is a severe test.
  • The real test is reading what you’ve written. You have to pretend to be a neutral reader who knows nothing of what’s in your head, only what you wrote. When he reads what you wrote, does it seem correct? Does it seem complete? If you make an effort, you can read your writing as if you were a complete stranger, and when you do the news is usually bad.
  • I’ve written about at least two subjects I know well — Lisp hacking and startups — and in both cases I learned a lot from writing about them.
  • If you’re lazy, of course, writing and talking are equally useless. But if you want to push yourself to get things right, writing is the steeper hill.[3]
  • writing down your ideas always makes them more precise and more complete, then no one who hasn’t written about a topic has fully formed ideas about it. And someone who never writes has no fully formed ideas about anything nontrivial.