To Write Well, Let the Keys Cool Off

One of the most important elements in good writing is exactly what’s depicted in the old Doonesbury cartoon above – letting the keys cool off. In other words, walking away from your writing, and coming back later. Writing takes an enormous amount of concentration and focus.  Putting words together, first in your head and then …

How I Write: First Take Care of Head

“But then one day I met a man who came up to me and said“Hard work good and hard work fine but first take care of head.” -“Smoke Two Joints” by the Toyes, played for many years at exactly 5 PM every Friday by radio station KFOG, in San Francisco. I just got off the …

Andy Grove Saw This Coming. So Did Warren Zevon.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, was not known for being a nice guy, or particularly easy to work with. He was, however, known for being tough as nails, fair, brilliant, and someone who got results. And he saw this whole COVID-19 thing coming. More specifically, if you’re running a law firm, he knew something …

A Few Words In Praise of Slowing Down

My Japanese friend Saiko is, for obvious reasons, an expert at cooking rice. Saiko has probably prepared enough rice in her lifetime to fill a warehouse. We were talking about this recently, and she told me that after decades of using an electric rice cooker, she’s going back to a method that involves literally fire, …

Put Those Towels Back, or Writing and the Assumptive Open

Terry: [was talking privately over dinner with Tess until Terry finally shows up] I know everything that’s happening in my hotels. Danny: [sarcastically] So I should put the towels back? Terry: [while rubbing Tess’s hands] No, the towels you can keep. -From the film Ocean’s Eleven One of the great things about writing, as with …

Happy Thanksgiving to All the Ships at Sea

Every year, at about this time, it happens. I step out of the house, or out of a store, or glance up from my phone. I look around. And for some reason, it’s unusually quiet. It seems a little odd, almost. The normal bustle and hassle of day-to-day life seems to have receded. In its …

Cut, Cut, Cut

In what is perhaps the most revered American guide to writing, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, the best piece of advice is distilled down to a three-word headline: “Omit Needless Words.” In a burst of logorrhea, the book explains: “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no …

A Thought About a Dying Friend

One thing about getting older is, unfortunately, that large-scale bad things start happening to you and/or people you care about. This isn’t a surprise or a tragedy, it’s life. This week has been personally awful, and then, this morning, on CareBridge, I read a post from a friend whose husband has been locked in a …

Sometimes The Idea Thinks of You

Although I write for a lot of large law firms, some of my favorite clients are the smaller ones. Rosen Hagood, of Charleston, South Carolina, has only fourteen attorneys. Yet, it’s an amazing collection of people. They’re deeply embedded in the social, business and political life of Charleston. They’re great lawyers, and surpassingly decent people. …