Essay Full Text
Any good "how to" begins with a little exploration of why. This one is no different. Before we can consider how to write, let's look at reasons why we write.
- We write to remember - ideas, quotes, and more
- We write to organize our thoughts - lists, outlines, etc.
- We write to exchange ideas - emails, letters, etc.
- We write to produce assigned work - school papers, reports for a day job, etc.
- We write to create - blog posts, atomic essays, and more
- We write to generate new ideas - trying out our own arguments and ideas
These reasons for writing don't exist in a vacuum - they overlap and interweave.
In How to Take Smart Notes, author Sönke Ahrens, says "Every intellectual endeavor starts with a note" (p. 1). Just like these atomic essays are the atomic pieces of many other potential writing projects, it took a few permanent notes from my slip box to create this short essay.
Writing is the essence of all knowledge work. However, outside of academic circles, few people give writing much thought after they graduate. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the fact many people fear a blank page almost as much as they fear public speaking.
The thing about writing is that it's really much better when we think of it and approach it as a regular habit like brushing your teeth, washing your face, or exercising. When we approach writing as a series of routines and processes, rather than as a heavy lift, it is much easier and much less daunting.
How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens teaches a habit based process for note taking which leads to a habit based process for writing.
Making notes is the atomic habit of knowledge work.
This is the first in a series of essays summarizing the book.
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