While it's true that Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Mark Twain all had messy workplaces, it's also certain that clean, organized desks keep most people efficient and more productive. I know that I'm always more prolific, more creative and happier when my desk is tidy. Which isn't to say that I'm always able to keep it that way. Some days I fear I must be suffering from Irritable Desk Syndrome.  Continue reading...

Whether you're an acrobat or a writer, you can do only one thing at a time. And, like the acrobats who watch their eating and drinking habits before performances, writers who spend some time thinking about what they want to write — before writing — are going to be better prepared for the demands of the job.  Continue reading...

Ta-da! You're about to read my eightieth column for Visual Thesaurus—Happy Column! Penning (on computer of course) twelve hundred words on aspects of writing every few weeks has been a pleasurable discipline that's taught me, I hope, to say a lot in a little.  Continue reading...

The spells are quite witty, but they aren't the only examples of wordplay in the Harry Potter universe. In the Potter novels J. K. Rowling uses vocabulary that has made her characters living creatures to generations of readers. This tradition continues in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  Continue reading...

Whenever I talk about the benefits of the crappy first draft some people always object. Why? For some, it's a habit and — as anyone who's tried to quit smoking can tell you — habits are hard to break. But for others the problem is fear.  Continue reading...

All avid readers have their own favorite writers. Yours may be Daniel Defoe or Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov or Ogden Nash, Agatha Christie or Anton Chekhov, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, P. G. Wodehouse or A. A. Milne, Philip Roth or Stephen King; whom you love matters little. What does matter is that something in the style, the subject, or the subtleties of one or another writer so matches your own passions and quirks that you fall in love with that writer, and year after year you keep returning to enjoy his or her cordial company.  Continue reading...

When I started writing, 35 years ago, I always wrote short. If a client or boss wanted 750 words, by instinct I produced 625. If the total was supposed to be 350, I sweated out 215. Usually, I had difficulty getting enough words, not too many. For many people, however, the problem is the reverse.  Continue reading...

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