Category: writer’s inspiration

  • Montaigne’s trick for paying close attention

    The trick is to maintain a kind of naive amazement at each instant of experience-but, as Montaigne learned, one of the best techniques for doing this is to write about everything. Simply describing an object on your table, or the view from your window, opens your eyes to how marvelous such ordinary things are. How […]

  • Samuel Smiles, Seth Curry, and Aritz Aduriz, a brotherhood of opsimaths

    The most important thing to understand about Smiles is that he worked for his whole life. When he wasn’t in the office, he was pursuing his education or writing articles. This doesn’t mean he was succeeding. Often he was simply reading and learning for the sake of it. The successful books he published were the […]

  • Lydia Davis on the power of rereading a sentence pt. 2 – Translation

    Sometimes I read straight on without going back, but often, when I learn one word, it explains the meaning of other words that came just before it, so I look back, and, one by one, each newly acquired word gives me the clue to the next one. Knowing Tom had gotten onto his knees before […]

  • Lose yourself drawing. Jeff Tweedy’s advice for makers and people.

    You have to stop thinking about anything other than what happened when you were a little kid, and you laid on the floor, and you drew. And you lost yourself in that drawing. And in the end, you absolutely loved that drawing because you made it yourself. And the drawing got hung up on the […]

  • Dana Gioia’s Introduction to Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Poet and information billionaire Dana Gioa has a YouTube channel. He regularly posts videos about the art of poetry, poem recitations, and profiles of poets past. This week Mr. Gioa introduced me to Edwin Arlington Robinson. Robinson lived a tortured life. His parents died while he was still a young man. He battled alcoholism. He […]

  • Pete Doctor’s advice to his younger self? DRAW!

    Pete Doctor is Pixar’s chief creative officer. Recently he sat down for an interview with economist Steven Levitt. On his People I (Mostly) Admire podcast, Steve asked Pete one of my favorite, but ridiculous interview questions. What live advice would you give the 20 year old Pete Doctor, knowing what you know now? Pete’s response: […]

  • Poet Dana Gioia nails it.

    Every not-so-often, a person can distill a complex idea into one sentence. It’s a rare event. But when it happens the idea snaps into your mind forever. Today’s Econ Talk podcast episode was one such occasion. Dana Gioia snapped my synapses when he shared this definition of the novel: Now, the great thing of literature–and […]

  • Statesmen and Copywork

    Continuing with the copywork exploration. Before he served as the second President of the United States, John Adams was an ambitious young lawyer. To help master the craft of law, he kept a “literary” commonplace book. In it he copied passages of books he admired. But after attending several sessions of the local court, he […]

  • Favorite Passages: Home

    All quotes are from: On the Move: A Life. By Oliver Sacks In the final pages, of the final chapter of On the Move, Sacks returns to one of his favorite topics – writing. Journaling was essential for Sacks. He always kept a notebook close: I started keeping journals when I was fourteen and at […]

  • Favorite Passages: A New Vision of the Mind

    From On the Move: A Life. By Oliver Sacks Dr. Sacks describing his meeting with the Noble Prize winning physical chemist Gerald M. Edelman: He then abruptly took his leave, and looking out the window, I could see him walking rapidly down York Avenue, looking to neither side. “That is the walk of a genius, […]