How does Tim Urban research topics?


Tim Urban has a very dynamic and iterative approach to researching and writing. He emphasizes the importance of starting with a broad outline that allows room for flexibility and discovery as he progresses. Urban avoids extensive upfront research for entire projects because it can become overwhelming and lead to forgetting crucial insights by the time he starts writing. Instead, he focuses on researching each chapter or part as he writes, maintaining freshness and immediacy in his understanding and expression 1.

Urban also highlights the enjoyable aspect of diving into topics driven by curiosity. He aims to increase his understanding from a basic level to a more nuanced familiarity, but not to the point of becoming a leading expert, which would be overly time-consuming and less engaging. This approach involves starting with accessible resources like Wikipedia to get an overview and then diving deeper as needed 2.

His writing process for blog posts is particularly intense. He dedicates focused writing periods, especially when facing self-imposed deadlines, which can lead to writing large sections in short bursts. However, Urban notes that writing a book requires a more balanced approach, mixing research, outlining, and writing continuously to manage the larger scope of work 3.

Writing Process Insights

Tim Urban shares his insights on the writing process, emphasizing the importance of a concise outline and conducting research as you go. He also discusses the challenge of retaining fresh insights over time and the dance between research, outlining, writing, and revising. Jordan Harbinger praises Tim's conversational writing style and acknowledges the complexity behind it.

The Jordan Harbinger Show

892: Tim Urban | What's Our Problem (And How Do We Solve It)?