Amir Sharif
Weekend hacker.
Self improvement enthusiast.

Write To Think

Clear writing gives poor thinking nowhere to hide - Shane Parish

I admit, I stole this title from Andrew Bosworth, who in turn stole it from Steven Sinofsky, who probably stole it from someone else. I will say that Andrew’s post (and some of the ones he posted internally at Facebook while I was there) deeply resonated with me.

If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” - Leslie Lamport

I hope to add to this post over the years (I have more ideas) but I’m publishing this before it is complete so I can share it to a smaller circle.


I started journaling in 2011. Throughout each day I’ll take notes of thoughts or reflections of the day. Once a week, every Sunday, I’ll write an email to myself.

Sending emails to myself is how I startedSending emails to myself is how I started

My original goal was to write 500 words. I wrote on whatever I wanted, but typically I was summarizing what happened that week. Since then, it has evolved and likely will continue to evolve.

Here’s a collection of different ways I’ve journaled:

A red Moleskin gifted to me by my brother in law, January 2023A red Moleskin gifted to me by my brother in law, January 2023

Once a year, I’ll do a Year In Review. There are lots of templates you can use:

  • Hammertime: Bug Hunt: Look at your entire life and figure out what you’d change. This is more akin to a system reset,” but a New Year is as good a time as any to do it.
  • The Ultimate Annual Review is a free actionable blueprint to conduct your own self-paced annual life review. By Steve Schlafman, ex-VC and now executive coach.
  • Farnam Street has a PDF guide on questions you can ask to reflect, gain perspective, and refocus.

Writing Tools

For paper, my preference is to use a ultra-fine 0.38mm black pen. I haven’t found something better than the PILOT G2. I might get the Squire one day.

I use Nota for writing digitally because it’s beautiful and simple. Obsidian is also popular but I find it’s not as elegantly designed.

My digital writing is in a Dropbox folder. My blog is also it’s own Dropbox folder and is powered by which I’ve come to be a huge fan of.

I use a private Telegram chat with myself when I want to write things that I’ll later expand on. I like Telegram because it’s fast and I can easily access chats from anywhere.

Writing Is Good

Rewriting is the key to improved thinking. It demands a real openmindedness and objectivity. It demands a willingness to cull verbiage so that ideas stand out clearly. And it demands a willingness to meet logical contradictions head on and trace them to the premises that have created them. In short, it forces a writer to get up his courage and expose his thinking process to his own intelligence.”

Clear Writing Means Clear Thinking Means…

How many brilliant ideas have you had and forgotten? How many insights have you failed to take action on? How much useful advice have you slowly forgotten as the years have passed?

We feel a constant pressure to be learning, improving ourselves, and making progress. We spend countless hours every year reading, listening, and watching informational content. And yet, where has all that valuable knowledge gone? Where is it when we need it? Our brain can only store a few thoughts at any one time. Our brain is for having ideas, not storing them.

Building a Second Brain: An Overview - Forte Labs

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