Here's a perennially useful guide for choosing what book to read next: think of a title you've long known by name but never read, go straight to a library or bookstore, get it, and read it. Through decades that guide has steered me to Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Boswell's Life of Johnson, Hugo's Les Miserables, all of Austen, Dickens, and Twain, and many, many more.

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Every beginning writer I know abhors the idea of a crappy first draft. It's embarrassing, mortifying and humiliating. They know their boss or client or publisher is going to hate it. They're going to hate it themselves because they fear it will make them look inept and unskilled. Thus, they don't want to it exist on their hard-drive, even for a nanosecond. If this is your belief, I'm here to tell you you're wrong. You should LOVE your crappy first draft. You should worship it. You should seek to create it as soon as you possibly can.  Continue reading...
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Writing at a standing desk is a principle that just kind of crept up on me.

You see, I have a bad back. Second, I love to walk. If ever there were a person ill designed for sitting all day at a desk, it would be me.  Continue reading...
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It turns out that boredom is not just a troublesome feeling that we should avoid. It's something we should embrace. And entertainers around the world know this already.  Continue reading...
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How often do you hear that it's just about mandatory to start writing earlier in the day? About 30 seconds of research showed me that a great many people offer this advice quite blithely.  Continue reading...
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A few months ago my wife and I visited New York's Whitney Museum and I wrote a column inspired by the art there that broke all the rules of realism. This month we toured a Museum of Modern Art exhibit of sculptures that Pablo Picasso created over six decades and felt a similar inspiration. "Fecund, fecund"—that's the word that kept going through my mind.  Continue reading...
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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...
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