A guide for effective writing habits.

Lots of people say they want to write, but they struggle to find the time, the will, or the effort. After all, life is filled with many other commitments — to your work, your family and friends, your health — and there always seems to be so many other things to do. How, then, do you make room in an otherwise busy life to practice the writing trade?

Make no mistake, writing isn’t a gift that some people have, and others don’t. Writing well is a trade, a constant struggle, a gradual improvement in…

Two opposite kinds of articles come off my fingers: those where I know where I’m going but don’t yet have the words, and those where I have the words but don’t yet know where I’m going.

In the opening chapter of his classic On Writing Well, William Zinsser tells of a writers’ clash. Two entirely different sorts of writers, whose experience of writing could not have been more different, both tell of their craft. Dr. Brock, a full-time surgeon who recently took up writing in his spare time, explain how it’s effortless and fun and fuelled by inspiration:

“Coming home…

Remember who the enemy is — and it is not the friends, neighbours, or family members you’re lashing out at.

“And you, Ring-bearer,’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this.’ She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand. ‘In this phial,’ she said, ‘is caught the light of Eärendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. ‘May it be…

Another one of those backward-looking summaries of what happened in 2020.

Thankfully, I focus not on the corona-world outside but the financial and professional world of myself. Much more tangible, and perhaps a tad more sane than the average shite outside.

As I meticulously note all my expenses and make regular balance sheets at the end of every month, it is my great pleasure to report that my net wealth in December 2020 is exactly 12.3% higher than December 2019. …

Frankly: Nobody ever told them how to. If you’re struggling with writing, here are some rules that can help.

I write a lot: about 22,000 words in the last month, and probably double or triple that in notes, early drafts, and passages I don’t use.

I edit my words even more. In my editing business I sometimes turn down clients — not because they’re unworthy of my help, but because their problem is much deeper than anything I can assist with. I can correct the sentences, fix the typos, or make the text read more pleasantly — but if there’s…

I saw a guy in a Tesla today. That’s not so uncommon in Reykjavík, Iceland, a land with clean energy, cheap electricity and a decent about of wealth (though only a single dollar-billionaire, Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson —or Bjöggi, as they call him). Parked next to the futuristic Harpa concert house, he was scrolling through his top-of-the-line iPhone while occasionally admiring the setting sun.

I don’t see Mr. Tesla’s bank accounts; I don’t have access to information about his employer or how much he earns, where his investments are, how many flashy apartments he has, and how large his balance sheet…

Nicholas Christakis has written a long-read for the Wall Street Journal, ‘The Long Shadow of the Pandemic: 2024 and Beyond.’ If you’re not familiar with his work, I heartily recommend Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society from last year — guaranteed to rock your world, your priors and ruffle some feathers.

Christakis is slowly approaching the status of a public intellectual — those rockstar-like characters whose books everyone reads (or knows of) and whose opinions about society are the center of constant debates. …

Nobody likes taxes. Ok, fair enough — a few wackos here and there do, but whoever say they like taxes generally mean that they like it when others pay taxes. Either because that directly benefits them in the form of free goodies on the other side of that magic Government coffer, or because they get a warm fuzzy feeling from seeing rich, successful people getting stripped of their belongings.

I don’t have any impact over how taxes are levied or that they are in the first place. Childishly, I can advocate for zero all I want, but that’s not going…

I have a reasonable grasp of Spanish and can hold conversations of a respectable degree. On occasion even quite serious conversations. I do this, in part, because my brain is built and structured in a way that’s amenable to linguistic knowledge: I easily pick up phrases, nuances, pronunciation, and grammar structures. More importantly, I find it enjoyable and rewarding to do so.

But I would never have acquired any Spanish had I not

  1. lived in a time and a place where immense productivity, international trade, and technological advancements allowed me to do other things than eke out a near-subsistence living…

A French lady frequents one of my writing cafés. I don’t like her. In fact, I hate her.

Knowing almost nothing about her, her face has in a very short time become associated in my mind with all sorts of vile and distasteful things. Hatred. Disgust. Contempt. The stuff of nightmares. I really don’t like her. I really do hate her.

Kids below the age of reason have never really been my thing. Lots of upkeep, lots of noise, lots of unpredictability — with very little in return. Yes, yes, biological desires, long-term investments with payoffs only in the future…

Joakim Book

Writer, editor, and student of money past and present. Here: mostly off-topic stories, personal finance-musings, worldly observations and reflections.

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