#writing

newyorker
Moleskine is very good at telling stories. The question is whether people are interested in hearing this new one. The company’s revenue continues to grow each year. Customers remain willing to buy Moleskine notebooks. They are also willing to engage with the brand online—but only to a point.
Adrienne Raphel on Moleskine’s foray into the digital world: http://nyr.kr/1mcX11z (via newyorker)

Everything In Its Right Place

My quest to write 500 words a day has really gone off the rails recently. It was always an ambitious goal, but I also sort of set it up for failure by not designating a time each day to write. So I found myself scrambling at the end of each and every day to get 500 words up. As I’m finally figuring out with email, everything happens more smoothly if you designate a time to do it and stick with it.

And a place.

The other problem with the 500 word goal was that this site simply didn’t seem like a great place for it. You see, I run this site on Tumblr. And while Tumblr is amazing for many things, it’s not particularly well-suited for longer-form writing. Yes, even just 500 words. The text box that pops open when you set out to do a text post says all you need to know: keep it short.

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I think a problem is journalism is being overly concerned with writing for other journalists. Twitter, in particular. Journalists have so engaged on Twitter and it’s so empowering and gratifying to write an article your peers really enjoy that you can forget that your peers are very different from your readers. It can be a little bit problematic.
Ezra Klein, speaking to Joe Coscarelli on the launch of Vox.

Alex Lenkei:

A typewriter is a miraculous tool for disconnecting in a time when we are all constantly connected to our smartphones or tablets. When I’m sitting down at a computer, I don’t know what I’m going to do next; I can get distracted very easily. In today’s increasingly connected world, production and focus in writing are being sacrificed for Facebook updates, tweets, and blog posts. There are a thousand distractions. But with a typewriter, I know I’m writing. When you sit in front of a typewriter, that’s all there is: you and the machine. In an age where every action is given less time, depth, and attention, a typewriter demands focus and dedication. There are no links to click, tabs to check, or pages to refresh. When constant digital connectedness has taken over most of our daily lives, a typewriter can give us back that time and attention.

A nice thought.

Sarah Green, looking into “the daily routines of geniuses” from the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry. One finding:

A clear dividing line between important work and busywork. Before there was email, there were letters. It amazed (and humbled) me to see the amount of time each person allocated simply to answering letters. Many would divide the day into real work (such as composing or painting in the morning) and busywork (answering letters in the afternoon). Others would turn to the busywork when the real work wasn’t going well. But if the amount of correspondence was similar to today’s, these historical geniuses did have one advantage: the post would arrive at regular intervals, not constantly as email does.

It would be great to go back to such a world, where interruptions arrived but once a day. But I do wonder if there’s a way to simulate that through scheduling and discipline…

I love everything about this post.

andreelijah asked:

In today's blogosphere how would you suggest starting and promoting a blog? I keep tabs on you, Marco, and Gruber by way of Pulse daily if not hourly and I love to write. I've enjoyed seeing that my two posts on Medium have over a thousand views/reads and it's good for my ego. But how do you gain meaningful readership, and get out there? Everyone has a blog now. Do you suggest using Tumblr or host a Wordpress blog and put some ads on it? I'm REALLY curious as to your take on this. Thanks!

Things are pretty different from when I started blogging a decade ago. Twitter didn’t exist. Facebook was a social network for Harvard students. Basically, the only way to spread your words back then was either RSS or, gulp, email.

So in some ways, it’s easier to get the word out there now about what you write. But in other ways, it’s harder because there’s so much more content out there.

As you note, Medium (disclosure: in the Google Ventures portfolio) seems to be doing a good job facilitating the creation of new content and helping it spread. Tumblr has long been good at this, but honestly, I find it better for sharing pictures, links, etc, rather than longer-form blog posts. WordPress, of course has long been the standard there. Then there are newer entries like Svbtle and Hi as well.

Honestly, if I were starting out now, I’d still do what I did 10 years ago: which is write a lot. It may be discouraging at first if it seems like no one is reading what you write, but if you keep at it for long enough, people seem to have this funny way of finding you.

Be sure to link to others as well. This remains a great way for other bloggers to discover you and hopefully send some link-love back your way.

You could put ads up, but honestly, without a big enough scale, the money will be tiny. I’d focus on growing the readership first.

I’d also try to focus on one topic or a set of topics to write about most often. For those of us you mention above, that topic was obviously Apple. It certainly helped that interest in Apple stories exploded in the past decade, but I think as long as you’re passionate about something, a similar audience will find you.

The key, as with just about everything, is to stick with it.

Ben Thompson:

Nate Silver’s manifesto for his new site is 3500 words long, meaning it would take the average adult just under 12 minutes to read. That 12 minutes is then gone forever, a bit of attention taken from whatever other activity said reader would have otherwise consumed, and instead gave to Nate Silver. That is why Nate Silver is so valuable.

The implication of my news consumption being dominated by the tall skinny part of the power curve is that those who can regularly appear there – the best of the best – are going to win the zero sum game for my attention. And, for that, they will be justly rewarded.

What then, though, of the tens of thousands of journalists who formerly filled the middle of the bell curve? More broadly – and this is the central challenge to society presented by the Internet – what then of the millions of others who are perfectly average and thus, in an age where the best is only a click away, are simply not needed?

It’s a great point and question. The internet has made the “best” more accessible, so why would anyone settle for anything less?

That’s what I look for in my work: when a writer can deftly describe the human experience in a way that you didn’t think could even be put into words. That doesn’t happen often, but it gives me something to play inside. Too much of the time our culture fears subtlety. They really want to make sure you get it. And when subtlety is lost, I get upset.
Philip Seymour Hoffman — yes, the quotes keep coming. And I 1000% agree with this quote.