No more half-baked writing

Adam Novak
3 min readFeb 11, 2022

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I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to write half-baked sentences when journaling, outlining and note taking.

the fragments go something like this — then i talk about the next idea

…. make sure to emphasize that the sentences are just fragments

OOOH hit on how the sentences are not only half-baked but the oven was actually turned off, too

Like the above, when my ideas are flowing, I tend to write them out in just fragments of sentences. I end up writing ideas out exactly as they appear in my head, often spastically and incoherently. I don’t intervene between my thoughts and the paper to add structure like syntax or proper grammar. Sometimes I don’t even write the idea itself out but just tell myself to write out the idea later, as if I’m assigning myself a homework assignment with a due date.

This sloppiness comes from laziness— from not applying the little extra mental effort required to tighten up my writing. It’s like sitting posture. When you’re in a public place like school or at church, you’re more likely to sit up straight because of the surrounding social pressures. But when you’re all by yourself at home, it’s easier to start slouching since there’s less incentive or pressure. Similarly, when taking notes in one’s own journal, there’s no real accountability. It’s easy to write a bunch of snippets without discipline or structure, and no one’s gonna see your private journal and tell you to shape up your writing.

There are definitely times when writing fragments and snippets is actually preferred in order to not obstruct the process, like during pure brainstorming sessions. Right now, however, I’m looking specifically at when you have some intent to release the writing at some point — for a blog, research paper, website, etc.

There are several problems with this lack of discipline in the initial writing stage:

First, the morsels of writing can be confusing. You go back later and end up just deleting the words, wondering what exactly it was you were trying to say.

Second, even if you can understand what the notes mean, you’ll have lost the mental juices which led to that writing. It takes time to get back into that mental state where ideas were flowing.

Third, you don’t end up actually finishing anything through your time. In the moment you might have all the energy and intention to write out your thoughts, but when a day or week passes by, odds are you won’t.

And fourth, the whole writing process just takes longer. You could’ve expended a bit more effort to be concise with your ideas as they came out, but now you have to go back and edit and revise and complete the sentences.

On the whole, this habit of mine has led to dozens and dozens of would-be blog posts sitting in my OneNote as half-baked essays sitting, and has probably cost me loads of extra time writing research than I should have invested. This blogpost, right here, right now, is my first step away from half-baked writing.

If there’s any intention to turn your writing into anything more than a journal — like a blogpost, a paper, an email — you’re better off writing your ideas directly into full, coherent sentences.

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Adam Novak

Monastic Living | Language Learning | Responsible Technology