I'm fine with doing all my writing on HN. If you look at the comments section of my profile, it might as well be a microblog.
Difference is though that in the HN comments it's someone else who picks the topic and time.
Much as I appreciate the discussion here, occasionally I think there's some value in just doing a writeup on a topic. Or, a memory dump. If for no other reason, than for the therapeutic value of cleaning up the mind... And forcing the random musings that make sense in the head through the filter of written language just to see what actually makes sense.
First, get the user endpoint: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/user/<username>.json
then iterate the "submitted" array and make a request to each ID at the item endpoint:
Then save each JSON response somewhere. You won't be able to get the content of flagged and banned messages. If you do this more than once you'll also need to keep track of the last ID you downloaded, or the updates endpoint to catch edits, I think, although the readme is a bit vague about how exactly that works.
Does that constitute writing? Or are we just creating more ephemeral chaff?
It's kind of like comparing speaking at a meeting or giving a speech, to talking to a long time friend over coffee, or talking to yourself in the mirror. In the abstract you could say the action is the same, speaking, but the experience as lived is very different.
(upon reading TFA, it seems it doesn't even care about the oral/literary distinction I had been trying to make; for TFA the important part of posting is the export of thoughts out of one's head, which can be done in either mode?)
I'm very curious if I will be able to make writing a habit. In the past I often quit new behaviors after a few months.
I discovered this quitting behavior a year ago and since I'm aware of it I found a lot of examples where this happened in my past. Now I see everything I start as part of a big experiment to test which things stick. So that I can learn which properties of a habit make it stick with me.
> Now I see everything I start as part of a big experiment to test which things stick. So that I can learn which properties of a habit make it stick with me.
This is wise. In addition to watching the properties of the object, which could be considered static, be mindful of the properties in yourself and how these interact with the former, because yours are dynamic and can be developed as a skill, so you learn how to make beneficial habits stick more regardless of their perceived properties.
I read a few more of your articles and I like the variety of topics. Keep on going!
It’s like the movie Groundhog Day.
Every moment is a new start, and you keep starting over and over again and trying to finish or to improve your navigation of a messy, random river that is life.
A piece of writing, a project, a trip to see friends is usually interrupted by life. And there’s never that perfect time for you to do the work. Perfection is a memory of the past.
We need to do things in between, simultaneously with all the mess, and keep starting over and over.
Me innermost thoughts remain mine alone as a result.
Counseling with a qualified professional is immensely helpful. With a decent counselor, you could start seeing results almost immediately.
I am rooting for you.
Do you mean "how does one burn a piece of paper" literally? Or, how does that person arrange their life to have a fire regularly?
Done that, never again. I thought it would be cool to burn my paper print of some key material. Opened the door, put a lighter to the paper on the landing just a step from the door.
The paper did not burn cleanly as I imagined, and I had soon rather large pieces of burned paper flying inside my apartment. Not burning, luckily, but brittle and becoming ash wherever I tried to catch them or pick them up.
Learned my lesson: Put paper into a fireproof container, then burn it.
Step 2. Find two fire-resistant vessels like sink, bathtub, metal bowl, frying pan, sauce pan, etc.
Step 3. Fill first vessel with water, second vessel with the paper.
Step 4. Light paper on fire.
Step 4.1 If fire spreads dump water on fire.
I'll wager that burning one sheet of paper at a time would be on par with a continuously burning candle.
This is obviously an old idea, and indeed I'm just copying a similar process to Haruki Murakami's. I definitely recommend his series of essays on being a novelist: Novelist as a Vocation (this really helped me).
On to second draft now and moving from daily word count to number of chapters or paragraphs edited has helped as just a metric for pace. Doesn't mean it's quality writing, just that I have a sensation of movement and progress.
"Right now I’m aiming at increasing the distance I run, so speed is less of an issue. As long as I can run a certain distance, that’s all I care about. Sometimes I run fast when I feel like it, but if I increase the pace I shorten the amount of time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day. This is the same sort of tack I find necessary when writing a novel. I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly. I think Ernest Hemingway did something like that. To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed—and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage."
Undervalued Engineering Skills: Writing Well (pragmaticengineer.com)
Some tactics for writing in public (jvns.ca)
Writing about what you learn pushes you to understand topics better (addyosmani.com)
Vim Is Saving Me Hours of Work When Writing Books and Courses (nickjanetakis.com)
Writing a Book with Pandoc, Make, and Vim (keleshev.com)
Writing a book: is it worth it? (kleppmann.com)
I'm not really a fan of "You should" stuff. I always try to word it as "I do this," or "When we do this", etc.
Little less "dictatorial," but then, I'm used to dealing with folks that are very contrarian, and have learned the futility of trying to get others to do something; even when it directly benefits them.
Because of this, I have been accused of "narcism," and "making it all about me." I guess we can't win for losing.
But I love to write. The problem is, it takes a lot of time and energy. I have been quite occupied with a project, the last couple of years, and that has interfered with my writing.
This is from 2012, when social media had not yet taken over the world.
Now we're drowning in a sea of verbiage from people writing about themselves.
Writing helps you discipline your thoughts. All too often, logical gaps or nuggets of ignorance in a seemingly watertight argument only turn up when you commit your thoughts to the paper. (Well, word processor.) And, vice versa, thinking without writing things down tends to be infected with sloppiness.
Write things, if only for yourself and your future self. You may also find out that you have a knack for it. In that case, godspeed.
But I am contemplating about writing under pseudonyms with LLM proofreader assistant. Actually I do it right now with HN but without AI part although these are short creations.
It does have a heavy focus on American writing and it's akin to a longform opinion piece, but I wouldn't let that get in the way of what makes for an accessible and pleasant read.
edit: What also helps is to sit down and write. Make a blog and even if you don't have a specific topic to focus on, just write and keep at it. Take a note of how you write, the style that you naturally develop with all of your quirks; do you overuse commas, do you routinely break up sentences with a dash or a semicolon? Does it have a sense of flow?
Before long something will click in your head, you'll become more cognisant of the world around you, and your head will be screaming at you to write certain thoughts and ideas down.
George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" essay is a short essay that shares many of the pieces of advice . The main principle that I've taken from both is that you will be more effective at getting your points across to the reader, if you optimize your writing for ease of comprehension, instead of attempting to sound sophisticated with unnecessarily fancy words. This is especially helpful in work environments, where getting your points across clearly can save yourself from delays due to confusion.
I would also strongly recommend reading good writing often. Becoming a regular reader of a well-written newspaper or magazine is great for learning new ways to write down observations or advance a point of argumentation, and I've also personally found it enjoyable to have a broader awareness of what's going on in the world.
If you like science reporting, The Atlantic has excellent reporters with this focus. The Scientific American and The New Scientist are also worth considering (along with the news and analysis-focused articles in the journals Nature and Science), though I've personally read The Atlantic more often as I'm also interested in the publication's articles about general topics outside of science reporting.
If you're interested in geopolitics, I highly recommend Foreign Affairs. The authors and contributors typically have interesting backgrounds in government or academia, and the essays are in-depth. Similarly to The New Yorker, the release of certain articles is itself newsworthy (often as senior policymakers of various countries are often guest writers)—as a direct result, the publication is closely read by senior policymakers of different countries. I also recommend The Diplomat as a comparable publication, with a specialized focus on news and analysis about geopolitics in East Asia.
If literary writing interests you, I would also recommend looking into some literary journals, such as The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Hedgehog Review, The Malahat Review, and Ploughshares.
These days, I personally listen to the audio versions of The New Yorker's Reporter At Large segments and The Atlantic's science reporting when I can. For the remaining publications, I typically download the ePub or PDF versions for reading on an e-reader (minus the publications that don't offer their issues in their format), and read just the articles that I find interesting on my commute.
For you personally, I would recommend identifying topics of interests that you are passionate about. You can then try to find high-quality publications about these subjects, which may or may not be on this list. If you're more interested in the focuses of the publications you read, you are more likely to develop a habit of reading well-written articles, which is helpful for improving your own ability to write.
In novel writing there's very old advice: plan to throw away your first million words. Actually, that's good advice generally, not just for fiction.
I also just published some structural tips for writing quickly at high quality:
Make sure to create a low-friction writing environment for yourself! Whether it's a notebook or text-editor, you should be able to get your idea onto paper within 90 seconds of having it.
Writing is like hiking or skiing. While there are some important rules how not to kill yourself, you can only learn it by doing.
Also, read a lot, ESPECIALLY works by people who have a good command of your language (IDK if you are native English speaker; I am not). Writing style is a bit contagious. Don't worry if you occassionally sound like someone else, this kind of contagion is really unavoidable if you read a lot.
I would say that the optimal ratio of R:W time is about 5-6:1.
Hopefully this should help.
Do you have an idea what stands in the way of your ambitions?
Here are some suggestions (dang, I'm starting to sound like ChatGPT here):
1. Try an accountability partner and call them once a week to discuss progress.
2. Share your work, preferably to an audience you trust, and nourish feedback.
3. Experiment and train creativity. Write a short story, write with a pen, write technical documentation, write code.
Hope this helps.
You can't get better at writing without reading as much as you can, as widely as you can.
The only I Spy I know is "I spy with my little eye something beginning with...". Is there another common version where people describe the appearance of the thing instead of the spelling of the name?
1 = https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/11/20/a-coder-consid...
scarcity never creates value, but it always incresases it
but also: the more pople have written, the cheaper text and AI bot training become
which makes me feel in a funny situation, the more I write, the better I get at it, but it also makes it simpler for AIs bots to learn my style and make it worthless by the inverse-scarcity phenomenon
Maybe there's a website in that - parrot.me where you post and other people reply only with paraphrasing what you said back to you.
I guess it's a "better" title in a sense that it gets people to read (ie clickbaity)
A "pros and cons" article vs "here's why you should do X" elicit different emotions, which I'd argue, the latter is better for attention grab.
But I do agree with you though, when someone asks me for advices, I always try to give them context.
I also try to understand where the "advisor" comes from when I see radical advices out there. Even if I don't agree with it, at least I can understand the reason behind it.
Which might have served us better before now