Peter Skaronis

July 15, 2023

Metacognition on Writing

Writing Breakthroughs

At any point, we are one question away to a different life to quote Marc Champange from his book "The Personal Socrates".

As the thought is the pre-cursor to action, so are questions the pre-cursor to thought.

Leveraging questions that invoke self-reflection has been another breakthrough I've had in the past year. Some of these questions were part of the High Performance Coaching program that I did with a Brendon Burchard trained coach and some of them came from the Socratic method in the book "The Personal Socrates".

So, I asked myself, "How I do make my writing frictionless?

The answer that came up was to limit my output and time to publish.

That meant Twitter.

So, in December 2022 I started writing on Twitter again. My tweets got hardly any engagement from my 500 followers I had amassed gradually since 2008. I starting posting quotes, platitudes and experimented with tweet threads using Typefully.

I quickly realized I'm not Elon Musk, posting a "." and getting a 1 million views.

I then started posting comments on accounts with a large number of followers.

That was a very different experience. The engagement was exponential.

For example, I was reading a tweet from Nassim Taleb calling Lex Friedman a fraud. Jordan Peterson stepped in to defend Lex and Nassim replied, "Jordan, stay out of this you idiot".

So I though about my tweet for a minute and wrote the following.

That tweet got 175K views, 351 likes, 8 re-tweets and 6 quote re-tweets, at the time of writing.


What I hadn't grasped was that this amount of traffic, brings out of the woodworks the good and the bad.

The very first comment was from someone with lots of followers insulting me.

"Do you have a brain injury?".

And of course, the rest of the trolls jumped in to insult me further. His reply to my tweet got 200K views.

This experience was a learning moment for me.

I learned 2 things.

First, that people attacking you for just expressing your opinion feels awful, but it is a great chance to grow thicker skin.

Secondly, this served as a reminder to resist the urge to write a sarcastic tweet or pile on the conversation in the future. It does create likes but that's not my goal.

I then started asking myself questions, like "would you talk like that if you were face to face with that person or group of people?", if the answer is Yes, then I would proceed to post it.

If the answer was no, I would delete it. Not everything has to be said.

I realized that what captured my attention and kept me reading from the best writers on twitter was authenticity and emotion. Not insults.


With every passing year, the rate of information production increases and the rate of retention decreases. It is becoming a necessity to attain clear thinking and this can be achieved through writing. The introduction of terms like mis-information, dis-information and machine learning generated content, calls out for originality more than ever.

Society is unknowingly but not unwillingly becoming a reflection of the world paradigm programmed into an algorithm by other humans.

Writing is your vehicle to a better life. It helps you break down concepts and ideas to their constituent parts. Face them and examine them from different perspectives.

It's like examining a snow globe. A world within a world.


My usual roadblock is lack of time for writing. I am very good at coming up with excuses of why this is not the time to write. I will use events in my immediate environment to affirm my excuse. It turns out the real roadblock is me. How can fix this? I need to remove friction and have time set aside for writing that won't feel like a major commitment.
A contributing factor in the past 2 months, has been my transition from a full-time contractor to a self-employed entrepreneur. Every change whether good or bad is scary. I feel like I should be allocating my time to getting new business at the expense of everything else. Sometimes, that is the case. There is no linear path to most things. As long as I don't fall prey to the hustle culture mentality and make this the norm, I'll be fine. Otherwise burning the candle at both end is destructive.

Writing as Psychotherapy

Writing is an interesting endeavour. We learn writing in school as a mechanical process for serving the ultimate goal of taking exams and be accurate in our use of grammar and word count.
Writing is more than that. It is an essential tool for clear thinking.

As George Orwell put it, "If people cannot write well, they cannot think well. And if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them".

I realized the power of writing down my own thoughts about 10 years ago when I started journaling. It was like psychotherapy on a page. If you only rely on thinking things through using your mind, you can only go one or two levels deep. On paper you can go deeper. There lied in front of me all the worries and problems that would occupy my mind during my waking hours. Ten years later, I still journal but not as much as I should and need to prioritize this.

Information Capturing and the art of Note-taking

Last year I participated in a course called Building a Second Brain. This helped me revisit my note taking system and my notes with intentionality.

It was a mess.

I had notes in different apps and there was no structure. I had gotten in the habit of clipping whole webpages with ads and everything.

Every time I opened my notes to find something, I would get frustrated while searching for notes that I could never find. One tool that I use to help me minimize complexity and friction is Readwise.

This tool connects to Kindle, Medium, Twitter, Instapaper and other services that you are likely using to store highlights and exports them to your note taking app of preference. They primarily support Evernote and have beta connections with Roam Research, Notion and Obsidian.

I have tried them all.

The most minimalistic is Evernote.

Everything goes into a folder called Readwise.

So, as my new process I have started using the New Readwise Reader app that allows you to read your saved articles and highlight and add notes. These reviewed notes are then synced to Evernote.

As part of the CODE framework I learned in the BASB course, I need to set time aside to Distill the information collected.

This involves performing progressive summarization on each note with a key Takeaway added at the top of the note.

It is worth mentioning that this is also part of note design. Having a consistent design across all my notes helps finds information faster.

Having a space to keep all my favourite quotes and any other interesting phrases I've encountered is important to me.

Note-making and distribution

Some of the roadblocks I had was around systems and inherent complexity. I was jumping from tool to tool and sometimes trying to make all of them work together, thus increasing complexity.
I moved my notes from Evernote to Roam Research to Notion and from Notion to Obsidian and back to Evernote.

The problem is not the tool as such but more the system you have in place for note-taking and note-making. I was spending 99% in the note-taking phase and 1% in note-making. This was a big takeaway from the BASB course.

Priorities for 2023

This year I am focused on writing more online. To put myself in the best possible position for success, I am prioritizing a few things, starting from lower friction tasks to more involved ones. However, each small task will be building on the previous one.

This year I also started experimenting with writing on Twitter. It has been interesting to see the power of the network effect at work. Sharing my ideas on twitter and commenting on other accounts that have more followers and engagement, has a noticeable difference in not only twitter views but also followers and people viewing my twitter profile and subscribing to my blog.

I am doubling down on twitter this year and writing more atomic and long-form essays on HEY World and substack.

I spend time over the holidays to move my blog from Ghost over to substack and minimize expenses and maintenance overhead.

Also, the writing community is gradually moving to substack.

Another priority for this year is more note-making and less note-taking.

This will help me connect my ideas, write more and distribute my writing online.Finally priority I am adding to writing more this year, is to participate in the Write of Passage Runway as a founding member. This will help me get into a writing habit for sharing my thoughts online.

Writing with others silently on a zoom call also helps you commit to blocking at least an hour for writing.

So, let's write.

Thank you Michelle for helping edit and make this essay way better.

About Peter Skaronis

 Hey! I'm Peter, Cybersecurity Consultant, Polymath and the CEO at Techimpossible.
I 'm currently working on developing the Cybersecurity Notes and Cybersecurity Templates.

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