Pioneer Donald Knuth, known for his multi-volume work The Art of Computer, advises to follow your instincts rather than simply following the herd. He promotes the idea of being comprehensive in your study, to the point of knowing virtually everything about a specific area before writing even a single sentence. The depth of your knowledge about a subject will be implicit in the words you use to describe it.

  • Don’t believe that if something is trendy it is good…it’s probably just the opposite
  • People go against their gut instincts because they think others want them to
  • Similarly, people will focus on a certain subject because they think they’ll get more prestige that way…you’ll get more prestige doing good science than popular science
  • Regarding computer programming, he declined a friend’s suggestion that he initially write a Readers Digest overview and then expand the work into a series because he needs to totally “surround” or understand a topic before he’s comfortable enough to write about with any confidence

He also notes that being thorough will likely lead to your writing being more convincing.  “If I really don’t have the knowledge it will somehow come out implicitly in my writing.”