Oh well, it might be too late for me...
Anyway, for any of you who have done any amount of writing, there is one piece of (seemingly)counterintuitive thinking that is absolutely spot-on.
This idea is the notion that it is harder to write a short piece than it is to write a long one.
It is much, much harder to write a short, well-argued piece of writing than it is to do the same in multiple times the space. Think you would have a tough time explaining something in fifty pages? Try doing it effectively in three. Hell, try doing it on one side of an index card.
I am reminded of this whenever the semester begins and my supervising professor and I try and impress this idea on a new group of students.
Let me tell you from experience: they never believe you. They also often never believe how low a grade they got.
So, whenever I run across a well-argued, clear, convincing, provocative, tight and compelling piece of writing, I think it is simply a joy to read.
I figured I would share two of my favorite examples of this with you:
- David Friedman's "The Iowa Car Crop." It explains concepts like comparative advantage and trade theory in a clear, succinct and engaging manner. It is simply stupendous.
- Steve Landsburg's "Why I Am Not An Environmentalist." I have never heard the case against environmentalism stated any better. My personal favorite line: "My county government never tried to send me a New Testament, but they did send me a recycling bin."
Anyone who writes or reads should appreciate the ability to express oneself in an engaging, succinct manner.
I aspire to this. This website shows that, on this score, I win some and I lose some.
Just how many W's and L's I have is really up to you.
I am a little bit afraid of what you think about this, but if you want, tell me anyway.
I can occasionally accept limited amounts of constructive criticism.