Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

29 Oct 2001, 17:21 p.m.

Joel Spolsky points to a paper on writing, written by…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Joel Spolsky points to a paper on writing, written by a Harvard philosophy prof for his students.

First, texts on good writing depress me, because I usually treat them as a hypochondriac would guidelines on good health. "I'm not doing this or this or this. Oh, I'm so awful. I can't do anything right." And so on.

Second, the professor's advice on overusing connective words reminds me of Mr. Hatch's warnings on the same topic. The professor says, "Don't throw in a 'thus' or a 'therefore' to make your train of thought sound more logical than it really is." Mr. Hatch warned us against using such signposts as "toothpicks in the swamp."

Finally, philosophy as a discipline also gets me down, since I already feel as though I'm not really learning anything in college, and I don't have the rigor of mind to pick apart dense arguments. I suppose the way to combat that feeling might be to go home and catch up on some reading.