Some Writing Tips

On my last trip through New York I pinged David Perell to meet for lunch.

He’s just 25 and one of my new fave thinkers who writes about writing and creativity. We met at a fave SOHO brunch spot of mine called ’12 chairs’ which is fantastic Israeli food and especially fun place on Sundays.

Dave has a great weekly email you can sign up for on his blog. This week he covered writers block (here is his blog post) and some creativity tips which I have cut and pasted below:

​Writer’s block is easy to fix. You need a note-taking system and people to talk about ideas with.

Our most successful writing students write every day and publish every week.

Our best students become community leaders. Some manage local meetups, and others become coaches. All great communities depend on their members to step up and take leadership positions.

The internet will incentivize two kinds of courses: niche and mass-produced. Niche courses will explode because the internet does such a good job of matching people with obscure interests. I envision a future with courses like “The Physics of Baseball” and “The Economics of Star Wars.” On the flip side, basic courses like Economics 101 and Personal Finance will be mass-produced. For example, I taught myself economics by watching Tyler Cowen’s YouTube videos whenever I had extra time.

Universities waste resources by teaching the same courses over and over again, when they should be pooling resources to create basic, big-budget lectures with Hollywood-level production standards.
The best teachers will teach hundreds of thousands of students per year.

Online education will move towards live instruction. Self-paced courses don’t work for the majority of subjects.

Most people don’t write because they lack structure, accountability, and community. Students sign up for the information and stay for the people in the course.

Student satisfaction increases as they pay more.

Great writers have a nose for interesting ideas. In a world of limitless information, taste is a competitive advantage.

Education isn’t only about teaching. It’s about community. Great schools give people friends and mentors.

Online courses aren’t about grades, memorization, or test scores. Students take responsibility for their own learning. Real-world impact is the true measure of success. The school system is the opposite. I told this to a sophomore in high school recently, and she said: “Wait… people take your course because they actually want to learn something?” Or, as Neil deGrasse Tyson once said: “When students cheat on exams it’s because our school system values grades more than students value learning.”

Online courses shouldn’t be a passive experience. They should be active and social. Using platforms like Zoom, students can feel close to their teachers, chat with other students 1-on-1, and get instant feedback — all within a 90-minute session. Over time, online education will be more scalable and more intimate than most in-person learning experiences.

Learning is a social experience. You can’t just download information. You have to wrestle with ideas and make them your own.

People want high-leverage skills and high-paying jobs, but don’t want to pay a fortune for them.

Online education is for everybody now — not just tech geeks and early adopters. Substack, Wikipedia, Unsplash, WordPress, Zoom, Keynote. Professional tools are easy to use now. By publishing online, everybody can build their own credentials. A gift from Silicon Valley.

If you want to write well, stop trying to write like your favorite novelist. Do this instead: write short sentences, use simple words, and write like you’re talking to a friend at a bar.

Have a great Friday.