“Last week I met someone who wanted to start up their own substack. Their problem? “I don’t feel like I have anything worth saying. How do you overcome that feeling?” I told him that I rarely feel this way. This is not because I have an especially high opinion of myself. I am not any sort of brilliant. But I do not write to express brilliance. My writing has a different goal. I write to think. Putting pen to paper focuses the brain. It is forces fuzzy conceptions into careful thought. Once those thoughts are published for the world to see, they can be refined once again, as counterarguments flow in, objections are raised, and caveats and counterexamples are thrown at me. Write because you want to solve a problem, I told my new friend, not because you have solved one already.
This whole process worked best in the informal blogosphere of old. Twitter cannot tolerate it; the great magazines and newspapers cannot afford it. What is required is an environment where it is ok—even expected—for the people involved to post bad takes. A community devoted to playing with new ideas will generate many bad takes. And that is ok—if everyone understands that we are all thinking through problems out loud together, that bad takes are stepping stones on the road to surer conclusions. This is what made the old blogosphere fun, exciting, and occasionally, useful.
I can only hope that the rising generation may experience something like this themselves one day.”
In Favor of Bad Takes