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Writing is thinking

Steven Sinofsky recently tweeted out this thread where he talks about the virtues of writing in business. His argument: writing is thinking.

Writing is difficult. It takes a lot of time. I’ve been writing posts – albeit short ones – on this blog every day for almost 5 years and I can tell you that somedays it is downright painful. Somedays I ask myself: Would I be better served spending this time elsewhere?

It’s much easier to talk, throw down bullet points on a slide, or send out pithy emails. And because, today, we’re all so focused on “agility” and “execution”, it is easy to dismiss writing as being slow and cumbersome. 

But the act of writing is indeed thinking. To write about something you have to wade into the details and actually understand what you’re talking about. It’s far more nuanced.

One of Sinofsky’s arguments is that “execution is in a constant state of diverging as more expertise deals with more details that fewer people understand.” Business becomes “I just know.” Writing can fill in those missing parts.

He goes on to argue that agility is also not mutually exclusive with writing. In fact, when you write, clarify, and collaborate early on, overall execution speeds up because now people get the details and better understand the context.

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but my Grade 4 English teacher used to make us write a daily journal. He would tell us that it didn’t matter what we wrote or how long it was, but we had to write something every day.

I did it and I enjoyed keeping those journals, but at the time I didn’t really appreciate was he was trying to get us to do. I do now.

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