Speedwriting is good as long as you have a Eurika moment, or have enough materials to generate new insights while writing. If you have too many thoughts then speedwriting can clean up your head. But if you are puzzled or bored it might backfire…
What is speedwriting?
It is just another critical part of superlearning or accelerated learning. After visualization, memory, speedreading, and note-taking comes speedwriting. What does it actually mean? You read to remember, write down 5 keywords per subject you do not want to forget. And now it is time to revisit your memory structures. You can either try to recreate your memory structures or use them actively on a project. The easiest project by far is writing a simple article or blog post. What can be easier? Right? Well, maybe…
There are all kinds of chunking we do for productivity. Each kind of chunking is special. What I suggest is very simple. Do not use just a single article in speedwriting. Choose several articles with similar keywords. And if an article has several subjects, reuse its link with multiple keywords. I do this quite often with my own articles. Between 4 and 10 articles per my own post.
Why this specific number? You want to make your own ideas and arguments backed up with the information you acquired. Yet, you do not want to drown in excessive information. Everyone has limited memory capacity. Above 10 articles I personally get very confused and not really productive.
You may place the relevant mental palaces on a mental landscape, brainstorm ideas, and build additional associative connections. I explain the technique elsewhere. This is not a must.
Try to load the initial memory structures. If they are partial, it is OK. Try to think about what makes you remember some stuff better than others. Now you can revisit your articles in prereading speed, e.g. x10 faster than your regular speed. Compare what you just read with your memory structure and upgrade your memory structures. Do that for all the chosen articles.
Your goal is not to revisit the old articles to improve retention but to write a new one. Improved retention is a desired side-effect, not the main focus. Simply using information actively is more effective than revisiting it with every intention to remember.
Revisiting memory structures is something you need to organize your thoughts. If an article is good, it will have multiple groups of keywords and you will revisit it in many contexts.
Since the memory degrades within months it is best to do speedwriting at least a week after reading the last article in the chunk and preferably no more than half a year after reading the first article in the chunk.
When we read articles we sometimes do a short brainstorming, trying to understand what it means for us and which additional questions it inspires. When we write we always do this reframing.
The idea is to use joint attributes of multiple articles as leverage for finding new viewpoints. If we collect the articles, this means we a-priori think they can be useful. Typically we are not sure about how exactly to use the new information, and how to deal with the threats the new information presents.
We need to think about how the trends and ideas noticed by the authors can become opportunities for our own activities. If not for real actions, then at least for our critical thinking and creative writing.
Usually, it is not enough simply to revisit certain memories and reassess them. Actionable ideas are preferable. These actions can be simple, like tips for some activity or common fallacies of people regarding some subjects. Alternatively, they may be as complex as a business plan. You can never know when your activity will be interrupted. so it is best to produce tangible results fast. Then you can continue ruminating with some new inputs, or revisit your old articles and derive additional solutions.
The better knowledge in the chunk of your articles, the easier the brainstorming is. You just need to derive enough non-trivial connections. If your articles are too informative, you might split your creative results into several products, like three articles and a list of questions for further research.
Pomodoro breaks are excellent for brainstorming. Typically before we write something new we take a Pomodoro break. Use it wisely. Take long breaks, when these breaks are useful.
Reorganizing the memory structure
Next, you can copy and paste specific visualizations from your old articles into a new memory landscape or mindmap. Mental palaces are less suitable, as this process is accompanied by many shifts. You want to generate an outline of a great idea, or at least a part of it. If you want to write a 1500 words piece, you need to visualize at least a 500 words section, and you can improvise the rest.
Notice that you copy information from existing structures, not move the visualizations. If you remove visualizations from mental palaces they tend to collapse. This is a really undesired artifact. Even adding information to mental palaces may destabilize them. So it is probably best to copy the relevant visualizations into new structures and locations.
Writing the damn text is probably the most straightforward part of the process. You already have your research results, ideas, and at least partially the outline of the resulting article. Now you can write it. Or dictate it.
Dictation tends to produce a lot of irrelevant text that is also hard to edit and review later on, but it is faster than typing. Typing usually generates better results. These skills are somewhat complementary.
The writing itself should be done during a part of the day when we are productive. We need some energy, focus, and time. This may be not the premium flow-state schedule, but you should not write if you are exhausted.
It is not clear if we need to do line editing or hire an editor. We may need to revisit what we wrote in the past to create new materials. Some of the articles in the chunk or articles might as well be our own. It is a good idea to edit the article then, Typically I schedule my articles several months in the future to enable some editing.
Quite often certain phrases and ideas that are clear during the writing phase appear strange during revisiting and should be edited. It is nice to revisit your own articles at least twice. Even if you do not revisit them at all, they are still better than Anki.
Typically our processing is not very sensitive to timing. We can use big global events and festive dates to inspire us. For example, the new year is a good time for soul searching, and black Friday is a good time to purchase things. April 1 is a good time to discuss humor and May 1 is a good time to think about a career. Alternatively, target the scheduling of your articles to catch your readers’ trends.
But if you mess up with timing, the penalty is not large enough to justify procrastination. If you have time, you should acquire new assets and knowledge or generate new plans and articles. It is not just productive, but also joyful.