Theory: Writing is a device for making a person appear smarter than he or she usually is.

Substantiation: We know from experience that smartness is not a constant quality. Sometimes we are smarter than we usually are, as when a sudden insight arrives, or a burst of creativity, or a moment of sustained focus. These smarter than usual moments can occur at any time.

On the other hand, even the smartest person is sometimes less smart than usual.

So, smartness varies over time. If we graph smartness vs. time, it might look like this.

Ideally, we would like to use only the peaks of the graph, when we are smarter than usual.

Fortunately, writing allows us to do that. It does so through two processes: (1) if we can immediately recognize that a thought is less smart than usual, we discard the thought and don’t write it down, and (2) if we do write down something that’s less smart than usual, the processes of revision, rewriting, and editing allow us to trim away the stuff that’s less smart than usual and replace it with stuff that’s more smart.

So, writing (including the crucial revision process) is a handy device that you can use for creating a version of yourself who is smarter than you usually are. Please use it for good, not evil.

Note: The vertical axes of these graphs can be replaced with any other quality you might want to exhibit in your writing, such as honesty, compassion, wisdom, creativity, sexiness, awesomeness, etc. The creation of a multidimensional graph showing the simultaneous variation of all of these qualities is an exercise left to the reader.

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