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Write for yourself

by Daniel Schildt

English ~2 min reading time

Learning while creating

How we learn

While there are a lot of pressure from employers and society to learn new skills, we often learn alone. Learning is about combining & replacing existing knowledge and assumptions. All too often the process of learning gets forgotten in the long run. We lose track of why our ideas about world are what they are.

Write for yourself

By writing about learning, we create a trail of knowledge for the future. It can help to clarify thinking. Future ourselves can see better how we ended up to the conclusions. How small those notes might be, depends on the topic and situation. Sometimes even a few words be enough. Context for the future, allowing travel back to the source of understanding. Other times it might be a good idea to bring ideas together with more long form note taking.

Focusing on personal learning path is a good idea in the long run. Turning the focus from external temporary motivators to internal. Focus on a longer term understanding.

“Whatever your thing is, make the thing you wish you had found when you were learning. Don't judge your results by "claps" or retweets or stars or upvotes - just talk to yourself from 3 months ago. I keep an almost-daily dev blog written for no one else but me.”

— Wang, Shawn. Learn In Public. swyx Writing (blog). 2020-03-20.

Visual learning

Not only text. Many ways to take notes. Many ways to learn.

Blocks to blogs

Another possibility is to move learning from text to physical world. For example, you might get a better idea about scale of concepts by piling up small LEGO blocks next to each other. Each block can be one unit of a scale. Those can be then compared to each other more than one could with pixels on a screen.

Whatever ways of learning you end up, it can help to give yourself something to come back to. Collection of knowledge and ideas, even when the imminent memory loss happens. We forget a lot. Because brain optimizes for the short term needs. Less immediate knowledge gets away to the background. By having a collection of notes to look later, we can make it easier to recall memories.

Enough, not more

Time. Our understanding. Amount of energy. Everything is limited.

We spend energy on trying to remember. Trying to figure out later how we did what we did. Documenting our learning gives a starting points for the rediscovery of knowledge.

There are many methods to think about, but what matters most is that we make learning possible. Small steps to a better future. No need to do everything at once, no need to be perfect. Good enough is a good enough.