Category Archives: Writing

On Starting Titles With On

I have a pet peeve: article titles that start with “on”.

I don’t know if this practice has a name but it’s annoying. Surely a writer can craft a better title?

“On The Subject Of Writing” Ewwwww.

“On The New iPad” What’s on it?

“On Writing” OK that’s a book by Stephen King and I’ll allow it.

Starting a title with “on” seems weak, let’s all vow to avoid it.

Keeping a spark file

I like this idea by Steven Johnson on keeping a spark file for all the little things that come up in life.

The problem with hunches is that it’s incredibly easy to forget them, precisely because they’re not fully-baked ideas. You’re reading an article, and a little spark of an idea pops into your head, but by the time you’ve finished the article, you’re checking your email, or responding to some urgent request from your colleague, and the next thing you know, you’ve forgotten the hunch for good.

Those of us who prefer an analog solution will simply jot down our "sparks" in a notebook but what if you prefer a digital solution? I recommend using the "Append to Dropbox" action in Drafts for iOS, a method which an be found in this article by George Coghill. I’m sure something similar to Drafts exists for Android but I don’t know for sure.

Whatever method you chose, keeping a spark file seems like a smart idea and I plan on starting one today.

Einstein’s Zurich Notebook

I love the chance to peek into the notebook of a famous person, don’t you?

Let’s take a look at one of Einstein’s notebooks, specifically the so called Zurich Notebook

This stuff is way over my head but look at the handwriting, it’s so precise! I’m guessing he preferred graph paper as it lends itself to computation and drawing.

I think it’s ok to feel a little self conscious of your notebooks after all, this is Einstein we’re talking about.

Learning as you go

Matt Alexander wrote a fantastic piece to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of his site, One Thirty Seven.

12 months gone, over 800 articles written, more than 30 podcasts recorded, and too many new friends to count.

With one lesson for each month, here’s some of the most fundamental things I’ve gotten wrong, observed, and learned over the past year.

It’s a very long article detailing twelve things he’s learned in the past year, one entry for each month. I highly recommend you read it, there is a wealth of knowledge inside.

All the fiddly things

I have more fountain pens than I can write with in a month.

I have 2 desk drawers full of notebooks and paper.

I have a shrine made of ink bottles, all full.

I have a drawer full of non-fountain pens and pencils.

I have fancy leather notebook covers to protect empty notebooks.

I have 2 external keyboards for my iPad.

I own 10 different text editors for my various devices (so far).

I have a text file workflow that includes Dropbox.

I can write in Markdown.

I have all these things. When do the words come?