Hello, I have today been informed about a method for writing content that is relatively easy and painless. The idea is that by default a human will when reading predict what word is going to come next. Studies show that humans can predict what letter is going to come next and get pretty good entropy scores. That means that even the process of reading involves generating plausible next words.
And so it is possible to similarly do the same when writing. When writing a sequence of words, after the end there will be a feeling that some word will come next. It is unexpected and abrupt for the sentence to immediately end, so there is a feeling of continuation, that something will come after. One can while writing simply look at the space right to the right of the text that has already been written and there will be a feeling there about what word will come next.
Do not worry if this is difficult and slow at first. A practice exercise is to write a few words and then take some time to get a feeling of what word is going to come next. With meditation it is possible to notice experiential phenomena that are in one’s experience and sometimes have a spatial location. Well, maybe someone who knows how to find these phenomena is going to be able to find some sense of “next word” ness when focusing on the end of a sentence fragment. That will tell them what word they think is going to come next.
It is possible to simply, when noticing what word is going to come next, type that word. That is in fact what I am doing right now and what I have been doing for this entire post. It is rather easy and painless to do. It is not anxiety-provoking because it is a meditative, instruction-following exercise where I simply get a sense of what word will come next and type it. I am not responsible for the output of my text predictive model. I am not to blame. I am not unworthy.
This shortcuts various anxiety loops that are possible when writing in a more traditional manner. At that point, while there are many sentence continuations that are invisibly generated, all are filtered out because it would feel somehow bad to have written that sentence. Maybe the sentence would be cringeworthy or stylistically bad or offensive or embarrassing or I-don’t-know-what, it might just be off, and someone with enough of an aesthetic taste might simply be repulsed by the idea of actually writing out that sentence. There is no filter this way, because the sense of what word is going to come next is always present even when reading text, and so it is not specific to writing and doesn’t indicate that the person having such a predict is, themselves, responsible for that text.
I know this is a somewhat silly way of thinking about moral responsibility, but it is emotionally compelling enough that it can increase writing output by a lot. And output is not always good, quality matters too. It would be to be susceptible to Goodhart’s law to say that writing more words is always better. However, writer’s block is a pain, it is really bad if it isn’t possible to write anything at all, or to only be able to write very short sentences and paragraphs. That way it is possible to go months without making any progress on a writing project.
I prefer to have something written even if it is low-quality. That way, it is possible to edit or re-try later. That will increase the level of quality. And I know that that seems like a confident statement, that it will increase the quality, not that it might. The difference is that right now I do not care about seeming overconfident, since I am simply reporting on what word I consider most likely, and not worrying that the word I think is most likely to come next is not actually the most likely, I am not even considering alternatives (more than 1) because I am writing so fast, so the words just come out and I am not worried about the implied overconfidence.
This is nearing the end of this essay. There is a job to conclude everything. I am not sure how to do that except by rating the quality of what I have already written. I have done practically no editing so far, only spelling and that kind of thing, and maybe pressed backspace a few times to erase the last word. But there is basically no editing here. And is it high quality? I will leave that for readers to judge.
In any case, this method has produced an artifact that explains the very method and provides a way of judging the method by the very artifact produced by the method in a rather recursive loop that might ground out somehow in some kind of probabilistic or utility theoretic calculation made by someone who is deciding whether to use this method to write, or not and to instead use their previous writing method exclusively at the risk of hitting writer’s block.
[ED NOTE: This took about 6 minutes to write. I previously described this method on Twitter. I made a single edit after, to add a missing word.]