I adore open-area offices. When I started working in a newsroom 30 years ago — with a hundred reporters and editors, each with a phone and keyboard — I thought the noise and lack of privacy would drive me crazy. Instead, it invigorated me.  Continue reading...

As a general rule, we think of writing as being built from words and words being built from letters. True enough: words and letters are writing's basic building blocks. Yet the more I read and write, the more I sense the power of expressions.  Continue reading...

Recently I spent an afternoon with friends wandering through Manhattan's Whitney Museum, gazing at a wide variety of canvases by Frank Stella, Jackson Pollack, Joseph Albers, Mark Rothko, and many more. As we wandered, my skepticism (you call this art?) gave way to admiration (wow, abandoning pictures could be fun!), and to thinking: hey, we writers could do the same thing with words, not using them to paint pictures but scattering them willy-nilly like Jackson Pollack's dribbles.  Continue reading...

Perfectionism should have been the furthest thing from my mind after getting — and recovering from — a repetitive strain injury. But I was reluctant to resume working on my book. It wasn't so much the pain in my arm. It was more my concern that my writing wasn't any good. Could that have been perfectionism speaking?  Continue reading...

Intensive purposes? Slight of hand? Linguist Adam Cooper contemplates phrases whose meanings are in transition as we replace unfamiliar words fossilized with language that sounds more reasonable to our modern ears.  Continue reading...

In the seventy-one columns I've written for the Visual Thesaurus, I've stuck to writing on writing, examining the art's principles and its quirks. But now with the presidential debates growing hot as autumn grows cold, I'd like to say a few words about the role of writing and politics in our democracy.  Continue reading...

When I was in high school and university, I hated writing. I adored editing, mind you, but I found the pain of extracting that first draft torturous.

The most painful part? Paraphrasing.  Continue reading...

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