The Writer’s Room

Tools And Strategies For A Writing Life

The Shadow Plot

Why It’s Okay To Cheat On Your Projects

A few years ago I found myself at a party in conversation with a musician whose career had involved a series of experiments with different genres of sound. At some point in our exchange, I made a passing reference to his “capacity for reinventing himself,” or something along those lines. He shook his head before…

Don’t Look Back

When you’re in the initial phase of researching a project, you inevitably battle the limits of your memory: forgetting hunches, or failing to make connections between ideas or stories that you’ve uncovered in your research. It’s those limits that make it so helpful to keep spark files, or use outboard memory tools like Devonthink or Findings. But once you enter the writing…

Research As You Go

Your number one nemesis in trying to write is, inevitably, the siren song of procrastination. There is no more effective way to remind yourself of all the errands or side projects that you really should be doing than by staring at a blank page. Computers have only amplified this threat. Hemingway had plenty of distractions to pull him away from his work, but at least when he…

Your Outboard Memory

A few years ago, when e-books were finally starting to creep into the mainstream, I constantly found myself in conversations with friends about the viability of this new form of reading. They’d give me long arguments about the way e-books lacked the tactile charms and easy skimmability of page-bound texts, and how screen reading threatened to distract us from the linear…

Introduction: Getting Things Written

A few years ago, I was asked to teach a graduate seminar on non-fiction writing at NYU’s Journalism School. At this point in my life, I had published a half-dozen books, and probably taught more than a dozen seminars over the years—classes on technology, media theory, popular culture, and literature. But I had never taught a class about writing itself…

The Spark File

Looking back at all the tools and techniques that I've developed over the years as a writer, it occurs to me that most of them are, in one way or another, grappling with two critical mental forces: the power (and weakness) of human memory, and the sometimes overwhelming drive to procrastinate.

Let's start with memory, and put off procrastination for the time…

The Writer’s Room
The Writer’s Room

Tools And Strategies For A Writing Life

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