To do great writing, read great writing. Here’s the great writing I’ve been reading this week:
Don’t let your writing get in the way of a good story. If the subject is serious, quirky, crazy or bizarre enough, the best thing you can do as a writer is state the facts and let the story speak for itself – readers will be hooked.
That’s exactly what New York Times writer Catherine Saint Louis did in her Oct. 29 piece, The Great Unwashed, about people who opt not to shower every day (I only discovered it after the Oregonian picked it up this week). Saint Louis adopts a very matter-of-fact tone when relating the stories of various Gen Yers – and they are predominantly Gen Yers – who’ve made the conscious decision not to bathe or shampoo on a daily basis, for ecological, skin care or other reasons. The drama is in the details she captures, not in her effusive prose.
Other gems I uncovered this week:
Hacking data all night long: A NYC iteration of the hackathon model (Neiman Journalism Lab) – The Hacks/Hackers organization of journalists and software developers staged a 30-hour coding session to produce New York City news projects. Prediction: expect enterprising entrepreneurial journalist geeks in other cities to follow suit.
Shinya Kimura and the primacy of doing (Metacool, Diego Rodriguez) – When it comes to big projects, writers and other creative types can psyche themselves out about not being good enough, worthy enough, smart enough, whatever enough to accomplish what they want to accomplish, when all they really need to do to feel better about themselves and their work is plunge in and get ‘er done. In this blog post, Rodriguez, a Stanford professor and partner at IDEO, says pretty much the same thing, only a lot more eloquently. Best single line: “Doing leads to flow and progress; thinking about doing locks one in stasis.” Amen.
Is publishing doomed? (The Brooklyn Rail) – An interview with Cambridge University professor John Thompson on his new book on the future of publishing, Merchants of Culture, which writer Williams Cole calls “comprehensive and surprisingly exhaustive.”
Why Facebook and Twitter Are Not Replacing Blogging (Danny Brown) – Micro-blogging sites might be gaining in popularity but they haven’t killed off blogs, despite reports to the contrary, says Brown, a social media marketer.