Writing as Thinking (and Learning and Leading)

As knowledge workers, our primary purpose is to craft knowledge. Regardless of our role, we are endlessly weaving other people’s thoughts and experiences into our own. We construct recommendations to improve our software systems, people processes and products. We try to envision what is not yet visible and bring it to life.

Despite our good intentions, we also get lost in a forest of disparate opinions. We head down a promising path and discover a dead end. We do this again and again. Then, when we do find a path that leads to change … almost nobody follows. Buffeted by the forceful winds of conflicting ideas, we can feel like we are screaming into the wind.

To construct knowledge – something whole and actionable from the raw materials of abstract ideas – we need to create conceptual integrity. Conceptual integrity is understanding how to think, rather than being told what to think. We are truly terrible at constructing and maintaining conceptual integrity … unless we have practices that support us.

Fortunately, writing is the practice of conceptual integrity. Writing can strengthen our metacognition – awareness and understanding of our own thought process. Writing can be used as a method of inquiry – the practice of exploring new ideas, insights and experiences. We can write to learn. Writing structures experiences that help us navigate complexity and uncertainty.

In the midst of ever-changing circumstances, writing can synthesize knowledge, experience and sound judgment into a strong recommendation. Synthesizing, when done as a team, becomes thinking well, together.

Thinking well together generates better outcomes. When people cooperate to strengthen their reasons for acting, they make better decisions. The way we engage with people’s writing is the way we think together. When we structure spaces where knowledge can grow and flourish, we provide integrative leadership … the kind that generates true and lasting change.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

by Natalie Goldberg

This book has zero technology in it. But Natalie’s approach to writing will help you get past shallow thinking and into the depths. These practices will also help you get unstuck from rutted mental patterns and discover a more creative approach to communication.

How to Use Writing to Sharpen Your Thinking

by Tim Ferriss

This! Everything he says in this six-minute video is on point. Including the mention of John McPhee, one of the best creative nonfiction writers and teachers. Read his book on writing.

Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

by Mignon Fogarty

Writing is editing. Grammar is syntax and we need to improve it — like we do in code. These are fun and short. You can start with a recent one or go back and pick one that appeals to you.

Writing in the Sciences

December 2022

taught by Dr. Kristin Sainani

This course begins with lessons applicable to everyone. Later, it goes into publishing scientific papers, which most technologists aren’t doing. But the skills she covers are valuable … we are always sharing our thinking and gathering peer reviews to make it stronger.

p.s. Also see our Writing as Thinking course starting in January (below).

Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard. 

― David McCullough

Writing as Thinking

and learning and leading

January 19 – March 16, 2023

Thursdays for one hour
at Noon ET, 5pm GMT, 6pm CET, 9am PT

Writing as Thinking is an eight-week course for technologists — introducing writing practices for thinking, learning and leading.

Well-reasoned writing transforms disparate thoughts into meaningful action. In this course, you’ll practice writing in ways that help you:

cultivate self awareness
strengthen your recommendations
learn from other people’s expertise
effectively lead knowledge work

Learn more about this course.

The course fee is $499.
The initial (beta) course is on sale for $249. 

Contact Mentrix

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