I often see people who say they want to write more often and the solutions they come up with are basically along the lines of “you have to work through your suffering.” This is actually the case for most creative works and the general principles apply to most of them, such as painting, poetry, music, design, etc. I take a different approach than this masochistic protestant work ethic. I use my SEEP system to make it so I write more frequently, and it’s a lot more painless and indeed, actually enjoyable (that being the second E in the SEEP system).
In summary, the approach is to: satisfice on polish, do it when you’re inspired, and make it short. A way to remember this is the acronym PISh. To get it to really stick in your head, remember an imaginary conversation with a person who says that writing is really hard and you reply, “Pish posh! Writing is delightful, dear boy!” (In this scenario you are an eccentric British writer sipping tea and talking to squirrels of course.) You could even add, “You simply have to let the habit SEEP into your life” and reuse the memorization tool I developed for the SEEP system.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the explanation of the actual points.
So there you go: write short posts when you’re inspired with 80/20 grammar. The overall principles behind this being: make it short, do it when you’re excited to, and satisfice on polish.
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Please vote on the research topics you think would help the EA community make the world a better place or suggest other ideas in the comments. Below are more details about the project. The poll is at the bottom of the post.
I'm about to go to Rwanda and other African countries for an indefinite period of time (probably on the scale of a few months) and I'm going to be trying to get a better sense of on the ground, qualitative information. The science, quantitative, and big picture/low resolution stuff I can and will be getting on the internet via reading and Skyping with people, but I want to have a qualitative, higher resolution understanding from being on the ground. I think that this will help flesh out my understanding of the problems and might unearth things that would be hard to discover from afar.
My strategy at the moment is to focus more on explore vs exploit and while some questions I have going in, I'm trying to keep it largely exploratory so that I can follow "leads" as they happen and jump on unexpected opportunities for learning. This means I'm trying to get as big a diversity of sources of information as possible outside of what I would usually learn from (e.g. EAs, academics, etc.). So please do recommend things (or books, etc.) that you think as a typical EA I might be missing.
I basically have no money as this will be self-financed, so nothing that costs a lot. Unless you or anyone you know is keen on funding me of course! If I had more funds I'd be able to: hire local/professional translators to understand people better who I otherwise wouldn't be able to talk to; go to more remote areas that might have a completely different way of life and set of problems than those in more accessible ones; go to a wider range of countries; spend less time and cognitive energy arranging couch surfing or losing sleep in hostel dorms; and generally be able to jump on more opportunities as they come up. I think even just $2,000 US would make a huge difference to the endeavor. If you're keen, just reach out to me over PM or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll be writing up a lot but not all of the results of these questions on my blog and the EA Forum to share it with relevant parties.
I'm an effective altruist who co-founded Charity Science Health and Charity Entrepreneurship.