Matthew Yglesias Turns 3

Matthew Yglesias‘ eponymous blog turns three today. The link has the story of the blog’s origin, which involves neither a radioactive spider nor Gamma rays. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even involve mass quantities of alcohol.

Matt offers this interesting observation:

As people who follow my output here and for the Prospect have probably notices, I write pretty damn quickly. One thing I was fascinated and slightly horrified to learn as a became a more advanced undergraduate and had more substantive contact with grad students and professors was that a lot of people in academia — a trade that, fundamentally, involves a great deal of writing — don’t actually like the process of writing very much.

They like research. They like thinking about issues. They like forming ideas. But they don’t much care for the part where you actually need to write them down. I’ve been even more fascinated and weirded-out by the realization that many journalists (at least in the magazine realm) feel the same way. It’s the reporting, researching, thinking, etc. that they love. Sitting down to bang out a piece, however, strikes them as a chore. I’m not at all like that. I love to write. Perhaps it’s in the blood or something. So it always seemed to me that reading period was a very long time relative to the amount of work I needed to do. I would always get bored and antsy.

Indeed. As for myself, I enjoy both the reading and the writing, although I do tend to find long-form writing (books and very long articles) rather tedious.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Pfeh. I’m one day older than him.


  2. Bithead says:

    I addressed this issue myself the a few weeks ago.

    I never really do have a firm grip on why I want to attack a subject in these spaces. In fact, the writing of a coulmn for me has becomes more an effort of exploring a subject; the codification of random thoughts. The act of putting those thoughts into words on a screen allows me to think about, and RE-think about the subject at hand. My thoughts on a given subject often do not fully take shape until such time as I’ve re-written them twice. Often, indeed… usually, the ideas are already there, waiting to be cast into words, but not fully defined until the act of sitting down and typing them out.

    It’s my experience that those who go through the same process are usually the best editorial writers.

  3. bryan says:

    The longer I’ve gone at this, the more I realize I enjoy RE-writing more than the original writing. I’m not all that crazy about the research process, either. I must be a copy editor at heart.

  4. Well, I’m one of those grad students who doesn’t really like the writing process. But that’s because I try to perfect the product on the first draft, thereby prolonging everything and making it all feel like a chore. If I can just get over that hump, I think I’ll be fine.