Gather intellectual scraps to shape ideas of your own

Most books nowadays have one main thesis that the book is arguing for with a lot of supporting ideas and observations.

Atomic Habits thesis is that tiny changes make a big impact. The rest of the book explains how tiny changes make a big impact and then gives a few frameworks for helping the reader make the tiny changes that they want to make in their life.

Most finance books end up with the thesis that you should spend less than you make and also that it's a good idea to invest money in index funds. The rest of the book usually gives strategies for spending less than you make, explains how to budget, and maybe talks a little bit about debt.

This information, the leftover bits in books, podcasts, or essays is what I call "intellectual scraps." They are the leftover bits of ideas that the author touched on here or there with a few throwaways sentences, but never revisited. These intellectual scraps are gold mines for finding fresh ideas to write and think about.

A good way to spot intellectual scraps is to take note of whenever you think, "Man, I wish they talked/wrote more about that in their podcast/book."

Subscribe to the 221b Newsletter
Learn five interesting insights, ideas, and stories from history's most unique thinkers in your inbox every Friday. Read past editions here.