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2022 Edition: How is your writing going? - Paul Graham about writing usefully ✍🏾- Express compression with David Perell 📰 - Growing your First1000🎢- Mastering Indistraction 🎧- Kundera about Writing 📚
"The process of gathering ideas and distilling them into a smaller, more compressed form is the essence of creative excellence." David Perell
Hey everyone 👋🏼,
This Sunday might be the last of your holidays. Back to work or back to school, I would like to share a new edition of a past post I wrote about writing. After writing my first book, and signing my first deal with an editor, I took my very first writing class in 2021. How about sharing a bit of this experience with you? How is your writing? It is important to take the time to write. Writing is thinking. 😉
I have had the chance to meet and learn with 20+ writers of all kinds over the past years: some of them being world-class best-seller book authors. Some of them managed to grow their newsletter to a 5-figure online audience in less than a year. 📈
Here are a few takeaways:
Where you will learn about writing a newsletter or a novel from giant masters like Paul Graham and Milan Kundera.
You will also get on the fast track with growth tips to grow a newsletter from 0 to over 10k subscribers with Ali, an impressive online writer I met at OnDeck Writers.
Finally, Nir Eyal will tell you everything about not getting distracted, hopefully, it will help you read this newsletter till the end, and this will unlock your writing potential 🙏
#1. How to write usefully by Paul Graham
This post made by Paul Graham will be guiding you to write posts, newsletters, or any content that is worth reading. I hope this first snippet will be useful to you all.
💡Useful writing ✍️ Strongly opinionated but not false precision vs correctness. Writing useful is bold and true and tells people something they did not already know. 👉 It may be something people know unconsciously or something they have never seen in words.
💡Do not say anything unless you are sure it is worth hearing. Write your first draft fast and take your time to edit it; you may sometimes need up to 100 proofreads. To write something like a novelty 👉 pick some topics you thought about a lot “You need humility to measure novelty because acknowledging the novelty of an idea means acknowledging your previous ignorance of it.”
💪 Strength in writing = thinking well + skillful use of qualifications. Writing with simplicity is taking care of your reader 👉 importance + novelty + correctness + strength, are the recipe for a good essay. The exciting thing is that there is a lot left to write.
#2. Expression is compression by David Perell
The art of compressing ideas into words or thinking of minimalism to depict animals like Picasso is just an expression of mastery. Become a master at writing less to tell more 👇
💡Most writers do not spend 40 hours a week in from of their keyboard, this would kill their creativity 👉 talk to people, experience, and reflect. Quality of writing resides in separating the best parts from the good parts 👉 think of the importance of the plot, the pivotal moment that will give the unique emotion to the reader who will want to read more.
🧮 Simplicity is quality 👇 “the process of gathering ideas and distilling them into a smaller, more compressed form is the essence of creative excellence.” An example is marketing a brand: “Nike, just do it”; or just enjoy Einstein's relativity formula “E=mc2”.
🏝 We should not worry about the productivity of our curiosity 👉 follow your instinct as the world will recognize your work for its simplicity no matter how hard you worked to deliver it. Great creation can be seen as a distortion of reality, a distorted map 👉 create your own map, your own simplicity that will make you stand out as a creator.
The source article can be found HERE. David Perell founded a writing school called Write of Passage and he is also the host of a podcast called North Star Podcast where he receives inspiring guests like Seth Godin.
#3. Growing your First1000 >> how to boost your newsletter audience by Ali Abouelatta
Covering writing techniques in the 21st century without sharing the right tips to start and grow your readership online launching a newsletter on Substack would be a miss. We had the chance to talk and meet with Ali, read what we learned:
🛫 The author of the ‘First1000’ newsletter shares his journey of growing his audience from 0 to >10k in less than 1 year He tried many growth tactics and he shares what worked and what did not 👇
🚲 From 0 to 1000. ‘First1000’ is a newsletter about signing your first 1000 customers which took 3 months for Ali (the author). Here is what worked for getting to his first 1000 subscribers: 👉 2x Hacker News featuring 👉 Twitter and cross referrals 👉 Slack communities. But the following did not work ❌ first product hunt campaign ❌ LinkedIn posts ❌ cold emailing ❌ emails signatures ❌ free $450 ads.
🛵 The journey from 1000 to 2000 subscribers. This seems to have been the most difficult. This stage took 4 months. What worked 👉 develop 2 low / no code products 👉 launch on Hada News (Korean HN) 👉 continue with Twitter 👉 mimicking successful newsletter referral programs. But the following actions failed ❌ giveaways, interviews, and guest posting was not successful.
To discover the full story of growing a newsletter or getting inspired by the first1000 customer acquisition tricks of high-profile companies such as Stripe or Shopify, subscribe to Ali’s newsletter HERE. Ali Abouelatta is graduating soon from Cornell and is also a fellow from YC S19 and ODW3.
#4. How to stay focused by Nir Eyal
For those of you who are into mobile apps, you certainly read the book “Hooked” or at least you heard of it as a foundational reading about building a user experience. Nir Eyal wrote a new book and was dubbed by the MIT Technology Review as “The Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology”. See the key takeaways from an interview he gave a few weeks ago:
🕹 “The social dilemma” documentary is biased. Nir Eyal got interviewed for 3 hours but was cut off 100%. As a result, you will find in the documentary that it is extremely biased👉 no counter-argument vs the social bubbles 👉 showed on Netflix… which is part of the attention economy 👉 suicides are not at their highest of all times; since 2004, this might be true… but suicides were higher before 2000 when social networks did not exist according to Nir Eyal (that is called a confirmation bias).
💡 The opposite of distraction is not focus; it is traction 👉 to get traction, you have to learn how not to get distracted 👉 make time for traction 👉 planning with your calendar vs planning with a to-do list. And do not ❌ plan tasks from to-do lists: these are never right because you need to dedicate time to completing them.
These key takeaways were extracted from this source podcast (HERE) from The Knowledge Project where Shane Parrish invited Nir Eyal as a guest. Nir Eyal is a best-selling author of 2 books “Hooked” and “Indistractable”.
#5. The art of writing a novel by Milan Kundera
If you think of writing a novel, we think this book from best-selling novelist Milan Kundera is a must-read.
💡The author describes what makes a good novel. 👉 Self-exploration for the author 👉 Listing a world of potential ‘experimental’ egos. Phenomenology 👉 in search for the meaning of human situations.
✍🏾 MK’s writing style is centered around his characters in action to describe what other authors would tell with physical descriptions or explaining their past 👉 Describing the existence, the scope of human possibilities vs reality. For MK, a novel is a sum of assumptions where telling the true reality is secondary.
⭐️ Impressive chapter of this book made of definitions. Graphomania 👉 when one is used to writing books to show off its self to the external world. 3 ways to write a novel: tell, write or think 👉 The novel is a thoughtful paradise for individuals.
More about the book The Art of the Novel can be found HERE. Milan Kundera is a Czech writer who emigrated to France in 1975, he received several awards for his books but leads a low-profile life and rarely speaks to the media.
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