Writing to clarify thinking

Yesterday I was driving from PA to ME, which is a long enough drive to get plenty of podcast & audio book listening.

One of the podcasts I listened to was the episode of Lenny’s Podcast on Product Management Theater with Marty Cagan.

The whole podcast was excellent and recommend anybody in Product, Engineering and Design take a listen. They really touch on some themes that I personally believe really are going to change how the technology industry works as a whole. But I want to focus this on one topic they touched on : writing & thinking.

“If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.”

Leslie Lamport

“I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”

Joan Didion

Those quotes, coupled with one of the other things I was listening to on my drive was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (which could be another post, the relevant part here is a common Stoic practice is writing/journaling for clarity of thought) inspired me to write this post.

The main theme I want to get to here is I agree writing has a way of clarifying thoughts and truthfully that was one of the reasons I started blogging again is I do a lot of thinking – I even will allow myself to think that some of my thoughts are pretty decent. But I’ve always found writing them comes harder to me than it seems to take other people.

I’ve worked with super stars who after one discussion would be able to to write out a well thought out piece in 20 min – where it takes me sometimes 2+ hours to get out a post. Part of that thought I think is practice. What I want to put out there and as a way to hold myself accountable is to start ramping up my writing cadence. Originally I thought I would hold myself to 1 entry a month – I think 1 entry a week is better.

I expect these first few entries to be really bad, but I do have lots of ideas for topics. Goal being to just write, get some practice in, which should not only help me with my writing, should also help me clarify my thinking, which is arguably the more useful part of the exercise anyway.