Justin Li

Writing About Writing


I have been writing recreationally for a while - I've been writing in my journal for close to 7.5 years, and this blog has been going for 2 years as well. Before that, I used to have a LiveJournal account, which was mostly used to keep my high school friends up to date with what I was doing. This blog stands out though, because it can be said that I'm doing a lot for a very small audience.

I recently read Paul Graham's essay on essays though, and I found it interesting that the word "essay" comes from the French verb/noun essayer/essai, meaning to try/an attempt. A lot of my blog posts are planned before hand. I have a running list of topics I want to write about, and while I find the time and mood to write them, I collect ideas and quotes in bullet-point form. Often times I don't actually know what I want to write, just want I want to write about. For example, I knew that I would do a post on The Fountainhead, but I didn't know what I want to say about it. Even for this short post, I'm not sure what my final point is, if I have one. Writing, then, is a way for me to figure out my own ideas. It's not just a tool for me to express my ideas to other people, but also for my ideas to become clearer in my head.

My friend Genia also wrote something about writing a little while back.

I thought it would be interesting to show the notes I have collected before writing this too. They're below:

Paul Graham on essays    http://www.paulgraham.com/essay.html    the french essayer, to try    I have a goal, but I don't know how it turns out        I'm not sure what's the point I want to make in this essay    more to write thoughts down, to externalize and make concrete my thinking    to clarify ideas    http://petdinosaur.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/write-a-story-write-a-book/#comment-31    show notes for this essay