Tag Archives: Writing

Tools are good, commitment is better.

Although I have a robust set of tools for my trade, I find myself constantly coveting new tools.

Just today, I’ve been flirting with the following:

  • A new iPad (the iPen note-taking functionality that my old iPad doesn’t have is very seductive)
  • A new email program
  • A new program to collect and collate research materials
  • A program to underline and annotate PDFs on iPad

And today was not an unusual day. The truth is that for any characteristic craft, there is an entire industry creating ever better and more seductive tools. And any of these tools would be of value to me; I don’t want them just for the sake of novelty or vanity.

But the fact is that they will not transform my work, either. My job is this: to write these lines. Reading, thinking about what I read, and reconciling and converting these concepts into something that is of value to others.

A lot of fancy tools out there can lessen the friction of doing this job, yes, but they are accessories. I could do the job with a printer, a pencil, and a word processor.

The commitment to do what I do every day – research, read, write – now that is irreplaceable.

Tools are something that makes your job easier; don’t let them (or the lack of them) keep you from the actual work.

One day at a time

There have already been over one hundred essays published here since November of last year. One a day, that’s what I promised, and only twice (or perhaps even just once?) have I failed to deliver.

This space is not deaf to your comments. By reader request, I have made a heavy investment in archive technology, which you can use to explore the blog, one day at a time.

You can find it right there in the navigation bar to your left, asking for your clicks.

(Yes, some days are blank, but merely because I published after midnight; the next day will feature two essays.)

Thank you for your visits, and for your attention.

Painting: “Phaethon on the Chariot of Apollo” by Nicolas Bertin

The Gift of the Word

People ask me how I manage to write so much. The answer to that is that I write so much because I’m not good enough of a writer.

I admire people like Seth Godin, who can publish a complete thought – beginning, middle and end – in three sentences. Three sentences! That is what it means to know how to write well.

I don’t mean that good writers never write more than three sentences. There may be a good reason to write 1000, 2000 or 8000 words. The Lord of the Rings can be summarized on a page, but this would never be the ultimate version of the work.

But the ability to convey a complete idea in as few words as possible? Doing so is a sign of mastery.

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