A Thought or a Thesis?

Published on July 19th, 2016

A question regarding the last thing you wrote. Were you merely sharing a thought? Or were you defending a thesis? The answer to this question has a major impact on my writing style for each extreme. Thoughts are the seeds best cast into Twitter, where the constraints of 140 characters provide a perfectly sized container for an idea that is attempting to take root.

For topics that are controversial and claims that are bold, a singular and succinct thought is rarely able to stand on its own, protected from the piercing attacks of naysayers and contrarians looking to take it down. It is in these situations where a thought becomes a thesis, requiring an entire dissertation to protect and defend the initial thought. Here, even a Tweetstorm is usually insufficient because the breadth and depth of the analysis required. It is here that ideas are cast into books, such that they can carry this idea to a thorough completion.

Of course, not every piece of creative writing can and should be placed within these two extremes. Most content lives as an interpolation between thought and thesis, and picks an appropriate container to match (e.g. blogs, podcasts, etc). The challenge is selecting the right balance. Do I need to add a little more flavor? Or will I overcook the idea? Should I litter the piece with hyperlinks to leave relevant trails for the reader, or is it better to allow them to do the heavy lifting if they want more depth and texture?

Having worked in nearly every format (e.g. haiku, short story, thesis, blog, newspaper column, white paper, ebook, tweet, status update, etc) I have an appreciation and respect for what each one offers. However, it's not always easy for me to stick to the shorter formats. My tendency is to lean towards going into greater depth and nuance versus staying superficial and succinct.

How about you? What's your typical style? What are your thoughts on this thought?

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.