Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Which bits are boring and which are unconvincing?


I seem to be writing a lot of blog posts recently, and to my surprise a fair number of my friends seem to be reading them. I also have comments from people I don't know, so I must have an audience of some sort.

I've just re-read, "The Age of the Essay":


Which gave me the idea of trying to work out what I think by writing it down.

In it he says:

When I give a draft of an essay to friends, there are two things I want to know: which parts bore them, and which seem unconvincing. The boring bits can usually be fixed by cutting. But I don't try to fix the unconvincing bits by arguing more cleverly. I need to talk the matter over.

That seems like useful information to have.

Anyone can comment here, anonymously or not, and I get to delete anything I really don't like, so please don't be shy or worry about giving offence.

Which bits are boring and which bits are unconvincing?

If you know me personally, I'm happy to buy pints in return for good counter-arguments!


  1. I'm not actually trying to be Paul Graham!

    His principle is "Write about what you know", and he's explicitly trying to write essays that will be popular.

    I'm writing about anything that comes into my pretty little head and blethering on about it in the hope that I will think new things in the process.

    But I have taken his point that writing for an audience makes you write differently.

    So what I'm actually doing is going through his revision process in public, about topics I don't understand.

    Rather to prove his point and mine, I didn't know this was what I was doing until I started writing this post.

  2. Other good tips from "The Age of The Essay" are: Meander in the direction of the most surprising facts.
    Good questions to ask are about things which seem wrong, especially in a humorous way.