Sharing the writing life with Chip Scanlan.

The Best Writing Tip of All Time: Sit

Having trouble getting the writing done?

I faced that familiar problem a few days ago. I had finished a chapter of my journalism textbook, patted myself on the back, and promptly felt myself shutting down. Starting the next chapter felt … Read more

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Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2008

No time for The New Yorker?

CORRECTION APPENDED

Unread New Yorkers have been gathering dust lately — sprawled on the coffee table in the living room, perilously stacked on the bedroom bureau and resisting gravity in unstable columns on every unclaimed office surface.

Why am I … Read more

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Monday, Mar. 24, 2008

Can Chess Make Us Better Writers?

I’ve never played chess. It always seemed too hard to learn. But a story in last week’s New York Times has me thinking about giving the game another shot.

The story focused on plans to introduce chess into every second- … Read more

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Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2008

The Smell of War

We know all about the fog of war, but what about its smells?

In newsrooms I’ve visited I usually offer a bounty to anyone who can locate a story with sensory details that require the nose. I’ve never had any … Read more

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M&Ms: New Life for Old Lessons

On January 17, 2006, I launched “The Mechanic and the Muse,” a blog that would, I hoped, track my continuing quest to master the writing craft and share the lessons that every act of writing contains — from fact-gathering to … Read more

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Monday, Mar. 17, 2008

Talent vs. Endurance: A Message of Hope

Every day a writing quote appears in my inbox from The Writer’s Lifeline.

Sometimes it strikes a chord, sometimes not.

The one that chimed its arrival late Thursday is one I will keep close. The quote is attributed to … Read more

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Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2008

Widgets for Writers

Read a text version of Chip’s podcast.

Enroll in the “Get Me Rewrite” course.

Combine the World Wide Web and a software gadget and the result is a widget: a mini-application designed to do one or two things really … Read more

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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Eye to Ear: From Newspapers to Public Radio

David Folkenflik spent more than a decade as an award-winning newspaper reporter at The (Baltimore) Sun. In 2004, he says, he “took a leap of faith across media platforms,” taking a job as a National Public Radio correspondent. He’s … Read more

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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007

We Stand Corrected: When Good Journalists Make Stupid Mistakes

Want to see a journalist wince? Publish a sentence that begins this way: “In yesterday’s edition, it was inaccurately reported…”

Want to make a journalist squirm? Post these two words above an online story: “Correction appended.”

Ouch!

Corrections are journalism’s

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Tuesday, Dec. 04, 2007

Battling the Curse of Perfectionism

Benedict Carey is one of my favorite writers at The New York Times. He writes, with clarity and grace, about human behavior, neuroscience, cognitive science and other topics that hit me where I live.

It’s a psychic territory bounded on

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