Writing

It doesn’t always make sense to buy in bulk.

Buying twenty batteries instead of five makes sense, as long as you’ve got something to put them in. But over-ordering flyers for a one time event just because you might get a better unit price is insanity. The fliers will end up in a bin, and your money in the hands of the printer for no reason.

Same goes for ideas. Rapid fire brainstorming, huge gant charts and methodical step-by-step planning is completely neccessary for certain projects, and totally unnecessary for others.

There is no margin for error or estimation in a space launch, but there is plenty in the first iteration of your website design.

We learn more by testing our ideas than we ever will be hoarding them.

What’s worse than mediocrity?Insincere competence.

If we become embarrassed by the quality of our work, the answer is not to embellish it with dishonest confidence; the answer is to do better work.

When it comes time to reveal what we’ve accomplished, the quality of our work is no longer up to us. It’s only in the doing that we have any control, at all.

Humility pays dividends whenever we could have done better; and we can always do better.

The differences between 9:30 pm and 9.30pm might seem irrelevant, but these small choices give character to the words presented by people and organistions.

People notice these tiny decisions. Like the colon and spacing in 9:30 pm, they can convey formality, order and tone.

Inconsistent stylistic choices read sloppy and weak; even if a reader doesn’t consciously notice inconsistencies in a text, they will likely sense that the writing lacks control.

Writing which is inconsistent reads like unprofessional writing. When in doubt, make a choice; then stick to it.

The pressure, intent and passion for honing and creating pulsates through the veins of every creative mind. Jane Hirshfield painted a picture of what practice look and feels like when she said:

“Violinists practicing scales and dancers repeating the same movements over decades are not simply warming up or mechanically training their muscles. They are learning how to attend unswervingly, moment by moment, to themselves and their art; learning to come into steady presence, free from the distractions of interest or boredom.”

– Jane Hirshfield

The artists life is that of unswerving attendance. Only through genuine prescence can one articluate what it is to be alive. Repetition is not the practice, it is a symptom of dedication and focus; of the resistance of interest or boredom.

The stories we tell ourselves aren’t always accurate – especially those in which we play either a hero or a villian. The truth is always more complex (and more painful) than ‘I was right’ or ‘I was wrong’.

By externalising the dominant narratives we tell ourselves we can get a glimpse into how the story might read from the perspective of others. This is hard, because our own biases are always the loudest, but it is possible.

Externalising and identifying these narratives opens up the opportunity for us to deconstruct them; to challenge the dominant tale from all angles in an effort to adapt or solidify our own.

An editor’s page can look like a flurry of red hacks and slashes, the margins stacked with firm suggestions and agressive questions. Or, it can look like a gentle number of subtle suggestions, egging the writer in the right direction. The ideal mark-up probably looks like something in between.

The power a red pen can have when pointed at something sacred, something which a writer has poured their sweat and blood into, is immense.

It must be weilded with kindness and a firm respect for everything the work could possibly become.

In her acceptance speech for the US National Book Award, writer, scientist and ecologist Rachel Carson argued that the arts of science and writing are inextricably linked.

The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience. It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.

The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth. And that, I take it, is the aim of literature, whether biography or history or fiction; it seems to me, then, that there can be no separate literature of science.

Rachel Carson

Even ficticious work, which does not seek truth in the literal sense, uncovers and explores the nature of humans as we are, have been, and could be.

Science and writing are seperate forms of exploration, unfied by the same motive.

There’s something special about things which are refined; those which are distilled to their purest form. In language is perhaps where that simplicity is at its best.

We each share an intuitive appetite for sentences without fat.

When we receive a direction impossible to understand, or offered compliment so genuine that it doesn’t need to be prefaced, we are engaged in one of the most basic and delightful treasures the human experience has to offer.

The point is to get to the point, with as much precision and clarity as possible.

At the beginning of this pandemic I actually got a little excited at the prospect of having more time to sit back, relax and read.

Well, I’ve had that time and it struck me today that I’ve barely read a thing.

It’s easy to trick ourselves into feeling like we don’t have the time to do the things we know we ought to be doing.

It’s harder, but far more valuable to seizing whatever time we can find and spend it instilling into ourselves the habits we must develop to facilitate those things.

If you’ve been letting yourself down, as I have, consider how you could spend just 20 minutes tomorrow to set yourself on the right track.

I know what I’ll be doing.

Once you begin to look for it, you’ll find parallelism everywhere in writing.

Structures balancing each-other delicately, ideas presented equally side-by-side; clauses that share similar openings, or perhaps those which share similar ends; and lists that don’t read like lists because of how smoothly they flow from point to point.

Parallelism creates consistency, inspires interest and signposts style.