A special edition with some inside baseball.
Nice piece! Thought a lot of this was really useful for previous me, when I was doing a PhD... unfortunately abandoned in a tsunami of chronic illness and anxiety about bloody writing. Mind and body in conspiracy for badness... It took me a long time to allow myself to fold. But (finally) a good decision nonetheless. So your thoughts are really pertinent for me if I let myself sink into Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda... but thankfully I don't.
So interesting thank you Helen :)
I’m a management consultant and, oddly, there’s a lot here that resonates. I do *a lot* of discovery interviews (what’s going on/ what’s going wrong/ who’s the issue) and it’s about looking for the theme and the story. I love the detective (nosy!) element of my work and weaving together a compelling diagnosis
I am also constantly astonished at what people tell me! It’s like the act of being really listened to, by anyone, for any reason, people will use it to say what they need to say, regardless of the question asked
this is great
Your point about the importance of details reminds me of a Stephen Fry column in which he complained about showing up for an interview in full biker leathers and skid-lid, and the interviewer started the piece with "Tweedy Stephen Fry..."
Meditations on writing are helpful. My favourite tip from Stephen King’s book on the subject was a good practical exercise for the down time - seek out and destroy every adverb that you have written. All redundant (usually).
Simply fantastic. This piece I have saved. So many great points. But my favorite: At the end of every day, finish your writing by stopping halfway through a thought. That way, there is a small task to complete the next day, helping you navigate the hardest movement in a writer’s life: sitting down at your desk. Excellent suggestion.
A glimpse inside another writer's process is fascinating and instructive. There's so much to take away from this and consider when I next sit down to write a longer piece. Thanks so much for sharing.
Thank you--this is fantastically interesting and helpful.
One question: it says to know the difference between story and plot but unless I'm missing something it doesn't spell out what that difference is, but mostly says keep to the narrative and don't just shove anything in.
What am I missing?
Thanks very much.
This was great, Helen. So many useful tips. The stand-out for me was six months on a longread article. I've been stressing about researching for my book for three months. Now I feel much more chill!
After a day spent writing for 3 hours or so and feeling tired today, your comment about the maximum writing capacity was an excellent reminder of limits. The three things and detail points were particularly useful. Thank you.
Thanks. Wish I'd read this half a century ago when I was doing interviews. But still the last thought, Park downhill, remains brilliant advice as I approach my 80th birthday.
I really enjoyed reading this. It's very good to see what a real journalist does laid out so clearly, and I'm sure the advice will apply much more widely.
So good and so useful. Thank you
Excellent. More power to your pomodoros!
In a thing I wrote recently, I described someone by their blue hair only. 😊 Feel so good about that decision now. Thank you.
How might this relate to fictional writing, or technical writing. I can see overlap, though not much? Any thoughts?