The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.
Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.
Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing*. Read it three times.
Write the way you talk. Naturally.
Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
Never write more than two pages on any subject.
Check your quotations.
Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.
If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
If you want ACTION, don't write. Go and tell the guy what you want.
→ When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done. Your average e-mail response time might suffer some, but you’ll more than make up for this with the sheer volume of truly important work produced during the day by your refreshed ability to dive deeper than your exhausted peers
a. Monastic Philosophy
→ eliminating or radically minimalizing shallow obligations
→ practitioners tend to have a well-defined and highly valued professional goal to pursue and the bulk of their professional success comes from doing this one thing exceptionally well.
→ Examples: Donald Knuth (famous for innovations in computer science) and Neal Stephenson (science fiction writer)
b. Bimodal Philosophy
→ You divide your time, dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else.
→ During deep time, the bimodal worker will act monastically—seeking intense and uninterrupted concentration. During shallow time, such focus is not prioritized. This division of time between deep and open can happen on multiple scales.
→ Typically deployed by people who cannot succeed in the absence of substantial commitments to non-deep pursuits.
→ Example: psychologist Carl Jung, who, when attempting to break away from Sigmund Freud, began regular retreats to a rustic stone house he built in the woods outside the small town of Bollingen. The rest of Jung’s time was spent in Zurich, where he ran a busy clinical practice (to pay bills), was an active participant in the Zurich coffeehouse culture (to stimulate his thinking), and gave and attended many lectured in the city’s respected universities.
c. Rhythmic Philosophy
→ The easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit. The goal is to generate a rhythm for this work that removes the need for you to invest energy in deciding if when you’re going to go deep.
→ Set a starting time that you use everyday for deep work. In this way, the barrier to entry for going deep is reduced.
d. Journalistic Philosophy
→ Deep work is fit whenever you can into your schedule
→ Journalists are trained to shift into a writing mode on a moment’s notice, as is required by the deadline-driven nature of their profession.
→ Not for deep work novice. The ability to rapidly switch your mind from shallow to deep mode doesn’t come naturally. Without practice, such switches can seriously deplete your finite willpower reserves.
→ This habit also requires a sense of confidence in your abilities—the conviction that what you’re doing is important and will succeed. This type of conviction is typically built on a foundation of existing professional accomplishment.
→ Example: Journalist Walter Isaacson
→ Journalist Mason Currey on famous thinkers and writers’ tendency toward systemization: “There is a popular notion that artists work from inspiration—that there is some strike or bolt or bubbling up of creative mojo from who knows where...but I hope [my work] makes it clear that waiting for inspiration to strike is a terrible, terrible plan. In fact, perhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.”
→ David Brook in a New York Times column: “[Great creative minds] think like artists but work like accountants.”
→ To make the most out of your deep work sessions, build rituals of the same level of strictness and idiosyncrasy as the important thinkers (Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro & scientist Charles Darwin) mentioned previously...Their rituals minimized the friction in this transition to depth, allowing them to go deep more easily and stay in the state longer.
General questions to address for an effective ritual:
a. Where you’ll work and for how long
→ If it’s possible to identify a location used only for depth, the positive effect can be even greater
→ Regardless of where you work, be sure to also give yourself a specific time frame to keep the session a discrete challenge and not an open-ended slog
b. How you’ll work once you start to work
→ Your ritual needs rules and processes to keep your efforts structured....Without this structure, you’ll have to mentally litigate again and again what you should and should not be doing during these sessions and keep trying to assess whether you’re working sufficiently hard. These are unnecessary drains on your willpower reserves.
c. How you’ll support your work
3) Make Grand Gestures
→ By leveraging a radical change to your normal environment, coupled perhaps with a significant investment of effort or money, all dedicated toward supporting a deep work task, you increase the perceived importance of the task. This boost in importance reduces your mind’s instinct to procrastinate and delivers an injection of motivation and energy.
→To put yourself in an exotic location to focus on a writing project or to take a week off from work just to think, or to lock yourself in a hotel room until you complete an important invention: These gestures push your deep goal to a level of mental priority that helps unlock the needed mental resources.
4) Don’t Work Alone
→ Theory of Serendipitous Creativity: when people are allowed to bump into each other that results to smart collaborations and new ideas
→ Example: Building 20 in MIT during post WWII, Bell Labs under the direction of Mervin Kelly
→ Expose yourself to ideas in hubs on a regular basis, but maintain a spoke in which to work deeply on what you encounter
→ The Whiteboard Effect: For some types of problems, working with someone else at the proverbial shared whiteboard can push you deeper than if you were working alone.
5) Execute Like a Business
→ The division between what and how is crucial but is overlooked in the professional world.
→It is often straightforward to identify a strategy needed to achieve a goal, but what trips up companies is figuring out how to execute the strategy once identified.
→ Refer to 4DX Framework block
6) Be Lazy
→ Essayist and cartoonist Tim Kreider: “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets... it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
→ inject regular and substantial freedom from your professional concerns into your day to provide you with the idleness paradoxically required to get (deep) work done
→ Refer to Value of Downtime block
→ Refer to Shutdown Ritual block