Writing as culture

When companies move towards a remote work culture, in benefits them to encourage a writing culture. A culture of writing encourages employees to think critically, and communicate at scale.

Writing culture helps with knowledge transfer and accountability. At Twilio, every experiment they run is recorded before(hypothesis) and after(result).

Writing models

Novelty x Resonance

From Julian Shapiro

  1. Use draft 1 to find your novel ideas, which are:
  1. Draft 2 is for making those novel ideas stick—via:

Writing quality = Novelty x Resonance

The Three Editors

from Neil Strauss i'm pretty sure, but I can find the original source. When editing a piece, look through the eyes of the three editors:

  1. The Fan - how you can make this piece more valuable for the people who want to read it? What can you add it to make it more engaging, educational, entertaining, useful, powerful?
  2. The Hater - imagine someone reading everything you write and exclaiming "bullshit!" Did you make sound arguments? Do you explain where you coming from? Write defensively but not too defensively.
  3. The English Teacher This is what many people think of when they imagine editing: get out a red pen, correct grammar and spelling mistakes. If you're writing online, it can be useful to print this out and actually use a red pen.

Architects & Gardeners

From George R. R. Martin

you are either a gardener or an architect. “I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed, and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.”

In Vanketesh Rao's book Tempo, this is explored as design vs dance.


Outlining is the part of the writing process where you develop not one thought, but the whole argument. It's useful to always have a structure to work with, even if it is constantly changing.