David Perell Profile picture
"The Writing Guy" | I tweet about writing, learning and business | My writing school: https://t.co/bzeQ7VVyS0 | My writing: https://t.co/SOE9HtxXdi
Jeremy Pinnix Profile picture Chris Huser Profile picture hopium researcher Profile picture sl-xf Profile picture vishnu🇮🇳 Profile picture 210 added to My Authors
8 Jun
My principles of creativity:

1. Every creative project is different, but the creative process is timeless and unchanging.
2. When you're in a creative rut, make fresh snow

The mind is like a snow-covered mountain. Every thought is like a sled. Over time, the sled creates trails in the snow and new sleds favor the existing trails.

Fresh snow changes that and creates new paths for exploration.
3. Create fresh snow by finding new ideas

Every Michelin Star chef knows that delicious food begins with quality ingredients.

The same is true for creative work. The quality of what you consume is a leading indicator for what you'll eventually produce, so cultivate your taste.
Read 10 tweets
2 Jun
How Philosophers Think

Philosophers are the best thinkers I know, and their tactics can help us all.

Here are my favorite ones:

1. Be an intellectual boxer: Understand ideas by making them battle with each other. Create characters in your mind and make them debate each other.
2. Dissect ideas

The smartest kid in my middle school class used to take computers apart and put them back together again in order to understand how they work.

Good philosophers are like my friend from middle school. But instead of playing with computers, they play with ideas.
3. Think by writing

Deep thinking happens by writing, which allows us to navigate the hazy labyrinth of consciousness.

Most roads lead to a dead end. But every now and then, the compass of intuition leads to an epiphany that the top-down planning mind would’ve never discovered.
Read 13 tweets
1 Jun
I teach people how to become citizens of the Internet.

Writing online is the best way to do that.

That’s why I tweet about learning, business, and the craft of writing. I aim to make ideas fun and easy to understand.

Here is a collection of my best threads. Enjoy!
Read 21 tweets
31 May
How to improve your writing:

1. Get ideas on paper: Put words on the page as fast as you can. First drafts are always messy. But you can only start shaping ideas into polished writing once they're out of your head. The beauty and clarity you desire will emerge with each edit.
2. Finding ideas

Sherlock Holmes once said: "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." But when you write regularly, you start observing those things because the pen turns you into a curious detective who is always hunting for clues.
3. Collecting ideas

Finding ideas isn't enough. You have to save them too. Preferably, in a centralized place where you can instantly search for the best ideas you've ever had. The better your note-taking system, the less you have to rely on memory.

Read 14 tweets
26 May
Write like your reader talks.

Read a bunch of Internet forums about whatever you're writing about. Identify common phrases and put them into a list. Then, use their language whenever you write.

By writing like a friend, you build trust.
The idea of using your reader's voice works best for tactical writing that aims to be clear and persuasive. As a writer, this strategy also helps you get inside the mind of your reader so you can speak to their specific feelings.

(h/t @dollarsanddata)
@dollarsanddata Copywriters should do the same thing.

They should ask questions like "What inspired you to buy our product?" Then, they should collect the most vivid phrases onto a spreadsheet they can pull from whenever they write.

Let your customers do the work for you.
Read 7 tweets
23 May
What made Kobe Bryant so good?

5 championship rings. 7 trips to the NBA finals. Though fans were inspired by his excellence, others were offended by his personality. To learn about the nature of greatness, let's talk about his career.

Time for a thread.
The Lakers are famous for their roster of stars: Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar.

Kobe wanted to add his name to the list but worried his legacy would be undermined by sharing the court with another great player who he didn’t always get along with: Shaq.
Kobe motivated himself through a combination of envy and desire.

For example, Kobe and Shaq had one of the most famous feuds in NBA history, due to the conflict of Shaq’s desire to be the team’s leader, and Kobe’s need to take the spotlight and outperform.
Read 9 tweets
19 May
This paper explores the core personality traits of entrepreneurs:

∙ Capable
∙ Hubristic
∙ High self-esteem
∙ More likely to have done “illicit activities”

But here's the key line: "The number one predictor of entrepreneurship is asymmetric information about skill levels."
I discovered this paper when @wolfejosh shared it a few years ago.

He mentioned a quote from William Blake: "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create."
By asymmetric skill levels, the authors refer to people who are more talented than they are credentialed. They're the kinds of people who know how to build a business, even though they never went to college.

Being under-estimated makes them more likely to start a company.
Read 4 tweets
18 May
Why writing is harder than it looks: Readers think that ideas take a clear and obvious path, while writers know all the dead ends they explored to reach their final destination.

The simpler an idea looks, the crazier the journey probably was. Image
The paradox of creativity: Your work is done when it looks so simple that the consumer thinks they could've done it, which means they won't appreciate how hard you worked.

The paradox of writing: Great writing looks effortless. But because the ideas are so clear, casual readers don't appreciate how much time it took to refine them.
Read 5 tweets
18 May
Philosophers are the strongest thinkers I know.

They're trained to evaluate ideas from a kaleidoscope of perspectives. They think like intellectual boxers, who understand ideas by making them fight with each other.

Their thinking is bloody, but boy is it effective.
In particular, I admire their patience with ideas.

Most people jump to moral conclusions when they find a new idea. A good philosopher has none of that hubris. Through critique and dialogue, they simply try to understand it instead, knowing that understanding is a slow process.
While the rest of us judge ideas, philosophers critique them.

They think dispassionately because they welcome the idea of being corrected, and in turn, updating their worldview. Thus, they welcome self-criticism, so long as it's done with a posture of intellectual generosity.
Read 7 tweets
6 May
For all the talk about progress, why are beautiful buildings like this so rare these days?
Modern architecture really makes you question the gospel of efficiency.

I mean, seriously.
Oh and while we’re at it, can we have some Art Nouveau wallpaper too?
Read 4 tweets
3 May
The Simpsons secret to writing: Create an imperfect world, then improve it.
First, flood the page with ideas. Then, edit.

“Since writing is very hard and rewriting is comparatively easy and rather fun, I always write my scripts all the way through as fast as I can, the first day, if possible.”

(h/t @MarketPowerYT)

newyorker.com/culture/the-ne…
The writers for The Simpsons were completely independent.

Since not even executives received advanced copies of the scripts, all the writers had to do was please themselves.
Read 5 tweets
30 Apr
New essay: A couple years ago, I realized that I knew embarrassingly little about Christianity.

So, I decided to change that. That search led me to history of human rights and the moral underpinnings of Western culture.

Here’s what I discovered.

perell.com/essay/why-your…
I didn’t think this piece would resonate.

But in terms of quality responses in the first 24 hours, it’s the most successful essay I’ve ever written.

Never have I experienced such a flood of responses — and I particularly love the personal stories of religious transformation.
Religious or not, every Westerner bathes in the waters of Christian ideology.

We are desensitized to Christianity’s influence on Western thought not because it’s irrelevant, but because it’s so all-consuming.
Read 5 tweets
5 Apr
Some paradoxes of modern life:

1. The paradox of reading: The books you read will profoundly change you even though you’ll forget the vast majority of what you read.
2. The paradox of writing: Great writing looks effortless. But because the ideas are so clear, casual readers don't appreciate how much time it took to refine them.
3. The paradox of creativity: Your work is done when it looks so simple that the consumer thinks they could've done it, which means they won't appreciate how hard you worked.
Read 14 tweets
1 Apr
I like the motto: “Don’t put-spend your competitors. Out-teach them.”

If you have a unique perspective, a solid product, and know how to spread your message on the Internet, you don’t have to spend money on paid marketing.
For information products, the Internet is inverting the way we’ve always done things:

Old method: Say little in public, share everything with customers.

New method: Say everything in public, but distill and refine ideas for customers.

(Simplified, but directionally true.)
“Education is a soft way to get your name — and your product’s name — in front of more people.

And instead of a hard sell “buy this product” approach, you’re getting attention by providing a valuable service.

People who you educate will become your evangelists.”

@jasonfried
Read 4 tweets
29 Mar
To improve higher education, we should have different schools for two different styles of learning:

1) Get a job: Earn a living so you can support your family

2) Live a meaningful life: Give students a space to think and learn about themselves, away from the demands of work
Broadly, American colleges were built to give students a place to intellectually explore.

But recently, we’ve asked them to pivot into vocational training — which isn’t what they’re designed for. Now, we’re stuck with a vocational system that takes way longer than it should.
To their credit, colleges have been doubling down on technical training in response to student demands.

Something clearly changed after the Financial Crisis. Since 2008, students have opted out of Liberal Arts majors and moved towards vocational ones instead.
Read 7 tweets
25 Mar
Homeschooling is the trend I’m most bullish on relative to how little attention it receives.

Institutional trust is falling, online education is getting better fast, smartphones are getting cheaper, and it’s getting easier for parents to team up and educate their kids together.
Homeschooling reminds me of the taxi industry in 2008.

In ride-sharing, smartphones vastly expanded the market. Homeschooling will benefit from computers, Internet adoption, and learning-focused video games.

Expect lower costs and schools that operate at a global scale.
Right now, the top two reasons why parents don't homeschool their children are (1) it seems lonely for the kid, and (2) parents can't stay home to homeschool.

Camps and learning pods will emerge to solve the 1st problem and online schools will solve the 2nd one.

Source: @usv Image
Read 4 tweets
23 Mar
Kendrick Lamar one of the world's best writers.

His recent album, Damn, won a Grammy and a Pulitzer-Prize award. His writing is propelled by a note-taking system that helps him capturing the ideas behind his lyrics.

Here's what you can learn from his note-taking system.
1. Note-taking is the closest thing we have to time-travel.

By taking notes, Kendrick conserves precious ideas, develops them over time, and eventually turns them into art. Taking notes doesn't just help him save ideas. It helps him return to a different state of consciousness.
2. Start taking notes early, so you can build upon the ideas over time.

Kendrick was a shy middle schooler who sometimes spoke with a stutter. Frustrated, he turned to the written word. He scribbled rap lyrics on notebook paper instead of finishing assignments for other classes.
Read 12 tweets
23 Mar
Creatives have two kinds of working:

1) Beer mode: A state of unfocused play where you discover new ideas.

2) Coffee mode: A state of focused work where you grind towards a specific outcome.

You find ideas in Beer mode and implement them in Coffee mode.
“We get our ideas from our unconscious — the part of our mind that goes on working, If you’re racing around all day, ticking things off a list, looking at your watch, making phone calls you’re not going to have any creative ideas.”

— John Cleese
The problem with traditional productivity advice is that it doesn’t take beer mode seriously.

Standard tropes like turn off the Internet, tune out distractions, and turn towards your goals are examples of coffee mode thinking. But most creative ideas are born in Beer mode.
Read 6 tweets
16 Mar
Creators should have a visual trademark.

With the world becoming so visual, a distinct style is one of the easiest ways to stand out.

Here’s a thread of people to inspire you.

1. Wes Anderson: Pastel colors with vintage shades that look like they should be a poster.
2. Casey Neistat

With close up shots, messy handwriting, simple fonts, time lapses, drone shots, and symmetrical shots that are inspired by Wes Anderson, @Casey uses aesthetics to invite viewers into his life and make them feel like a friend.
3. Tim Urban

I’m drawn to creatives who give their audiences two opposing emotions. @waitbutwhy pairs the intensity of learning with the playfulness of humor.

His stick-figure drawings are instantly recognizable because they’re so distinct.
Read 9 tweets
15 Mar
NFTs will make creators care less about raw follower counts and more about the earning power of an online audience
The Internet economy has been over-indexed on follower counts for way too long. Once you start building an online business, you see how it can be a red herring.

The important things are much harder to measure: purchasing power and die-hard fandom.

NFTs create better incentives.
Just as incentives will determine the behavior of individuals in a group, the metrics you choose for your creativity will subliminally shape your output.

An Internet with clear metrics beyond page views and engagement rate is an Internet with wonkier creators.
Read 4 tweets
13 Mar
My favorite online creators are wonky.

They nerd out and produce things that nobody else could produce. Christopher Nolan is my favorite example, so I geeked out on his creative process to see how he made movies like Inception, Interstellar, and The Dark Knight.
Nolan's movies have grossed more than $5 billion.

Fans praise of his illustrious mastery of visual effects, beautiful establishing shots, epic soundtracks, and gripping action sequences.

This video outlines his creative process.

Wonkiness is an algorithm for fresh ideas.

Wonky people have an enthusiastic interest in the specialized details of their domain, and they ignore the social incentives that shame people for being different.

Here's my mini-essay. ImageImage
Read 4 tweets