Day 19

Writing is a skill. In here I send notes of my writing from the 50 days of writing course by David Perell, to reflect, develop and build my writing style.

Day 19
Photo by Startaê Team / Unsplash

In the 19th email from 50 days of writing course by David Perell, David talks about how writers can increase their cognition by externalizing their ideas.

He mentions -

writers can increase their cognition by externalizing their ideas. Doing so increases working memory. The term comes from computers, which use two kinds of memory: RAM (random-access memory) and ROM (read-only memory). RAM is like short-term memory that allows computers to store information about whatever they’re processing in the moment, while ROM acts like long-term memory that remembers things after the computer turns off. Externalizing the structure of your essay increases your effective intelligence by offloading your working memory to paper.

He even states that whenever he is writing a long form essay, he breaks them down and adds post-it notes with each note consisting of ideas to write for one day.

By doing so:

  1. He said he didn't have to worry about the overall structure( as it is already taken care by breaking it down.)
  2. It is easy to change the structure by moving around the post-it notes as outline on a paper is malleate.
  3. Hanging notes on the wall makes your memory spatial i.e. whenever you see that note, you will be subconsciously stewing the idea and when you sit back you will be ready to write.

Interesting facts I learned today:

  1. Spiders use memory tricks too. Instead of creating a memory palace, they offload cognitive tasks to their webs which double as a second brain. Scientists still debate if spider webs are an extension of the sensory apparatus of their entire cognitive system, but agree that spider webs can process and simplify information like a computer.
  2. One study found that using pencil and paper to externalize ideas instead of only the brain reduced the time it takes people to multiply numbers by a factor of five.

My thoughts:

The idea of having post-it notes with few ideas from the entire outline of a long form article is amazing.

In this email, the major highlight was to take the ideas from your brain and have it placed in the second brain and whenever you are writing a long form article - have lots of ideas break down to smaller pieces of information and then expand on them.

The more I learn and write, the more I am realizing how much we rely on writing. We probably don't notice it but, from emails to summaries - we write everywhere.

How can we write better if we don't have a better note-taking system as discussed in one of the previous notes.

Breaking down bigger tasks into smaller chunks is an excellent way to remove anxiety that comes attached to it.  If you look at the puzzle pieces all scrambled, you will obviously have anxiety and a big dilemma that whether you can complete or not. Instead, you take one piece and keep adding the pieces that interlock to the first piece you will start seeing progress and in no time, you will be able to solve the puzzle.

Similarly, whenever you are writing a long form article, Instead of writing the outline as a whole in one section - Try breaking it down on a post it notes for visual cues and work on each post it note at a time. In no time, you will be able to expand ideas and finish the article.

I personally use Notion to break down article - I use each page as an idea for outline and breakdown. Later when I go through the Page, I start from top and expand on each idea, without worrying about the outline.  

Key takeaways:

Break down and add your outline ideas to post-it notes with each note consisting of ideas to write at a particular time. This way -

  1. We can change the structure of Outline (article).
  2. Build on individual ideas more precisely rather than worrying about the entire outline. These addition of individual Lego blocks (ideas) will slowly keep collecting each block and interlinking the one that fit, we can build humungous structures.
  3. Allow those ideas to stew in our minds whenever we look at the post-it notes attached.
  4. Build a second brain - Start by taking notes (all at one place if possible). I personally use Notion - It allows me to capture, build ideas upon and write ideas upon the notes all at one place. If you want to find a lot of articles on how to build your second brain in Notion - check out the links below:

If you want a premium template with more databases, more features and bonus content trackers all in one place - check out this template by Easlo.

If this is the first time, you are using notion - I recommend getting this notion resources to help you more efficiently.

Thank you for taking out your time.

For more of Perell's work, you can signup for the 50 Days of Writing Course by clicking and signing up to receive one mail every day with amazing take on writing.

50 Days of Writing

(Note: few of the links above are affiliate links, which is just a small reward I get when you use this link to purchase. Thank you in advance!)