Good essays

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I recently read Paul Graham’s: The Age of the Essay, and I was immediately inspired to write. Like many of my peers, I was introduced to writing as a means to collect and summarize other people's ideas during high school. Over time, I learned that exploring and consolidating your own ideas can be a much more rewarding exercise. It's time for me to put that belief to the test. Below you'll find my ideas on the topic which I deemed to be absolutely and irrefutably the most important: essay writing.

Why write?

Writing is a tool for thinking. Just like speech, you’re free to form thoughts as you go. Unlike speech, you can perfectly recall all of your previous thoughts if you write them down. As a result, the focused mind has the freedom to quickly wander into new territory without fear of losing past progress. Like programming and math, it changes the way in which you think by enforcing a new set of constraints, through grammar and the necessity to express how different ideas are connected. In writing, grammatical constraints leave less room for ambiguity, which helps you tie together the loose strands of knowledge which you’ve collected over the years. Some work most effectively by rewriting their work. Others are able to create completely unedited material full of insights.

Thoughts which arise outside of writing are important to the writing process. The mind has an incredible ability to combine accumulated knowledge in new and interesting ways. But it might do so only occasionally when pushed to do so, and more frequently on an involuntary basis. Original thoughts seem to be the fruit of discovery, not search.

By communicating your ideas through mediums with low costs of replication, you can leverage them to an unprecedented extent. Your thoughts have the ability to provide millions of readers with insights about both you and your content.

What qualifies as good essay writing?

There are two conditions which I believe make non-fiction writing good: