How to Become a Better Writer by Becoming a Better Noticer

How to Become a Better Writer by Becoming a Better Noticer

Let’s take an example from one of the greatest noticers in history, David Foster Wallace. In his famous commencement speech, “This is Water”—which is about the power of noticing—Foster Wallace recounts the experience of going to a grocery store on a stressful day. A less skilled noticer might write, “You go to the store and it’s crowded. The cashier looks angry and the shopping carts are broken.” Now see how the same moment comes alive in Foster’s prose through better noticing:

The Overstory by Richard Powers — Patricia Westerford

The Overstory by Richard Powers — Patricia Westerford

Richard Powers’ The Overstory, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, is an incredible book. It’s beautiful and brutal, poetic and therapeutic. Several guests on the podcast recommended it to me, and Hugh Jackman gave me the best description: “It works on you in the way nature does. It’s patient, and it’s in no rush. It’s slow and it’s steady and it’s true.”

Essay I’m Reading — “Still Alive”

Essay I’m Reading — “Still Alive”

Some of my dear friends are journalists, and they’re wonderful people. They measure twice and cut once. They are thoughtful, unrushed, and considerate, despite organizational pressure and incentives to be the opposite. That takes extraordinary discipline, and it’s fucking hard. It isn’t the path of least resistance, and I admire the hell out of them for doing what is right, despite the uphill path. This includes some amazing humans at the NYT. This praise doesn’t mean that they write fluff pieces; it means they aim to be fair and humane and take the time necessary to think about ethics and the Golden Rule.

A Dialogue with Yourself: Past, Present, and Future

A Dialogue with Yourself: Past, Present, and Future

When the world—inner or outer—seems upside-down, journaling is often what saves me (here’s a real example). My girlfriend recently found a gem in “The Isolation Journals,” a project by Suleika Jaouad (@suleikajaouad) intended to be “a 30-day creativity project to help make sense of challenging times.” Each day for 30 days, you receive a journaling …

Emergency Technique: How to Increase Ventilator Capacity 2–4x in 10 Minutes

The next two weeks are going to be very difficult, and the risk of ventilator shortages due to COVID-19 is high. Manufacturing will ultimately help, but it takes time. I’m already aware of one hospital in New York that can no longer provision one “vent” per patient, and demand is likely to grow dramatically over …

Predicting Hospital Capacity: Why to Act Early, How to Think About Lag Time, and a Model You Can Use

Predicting Hospital Capacity: Why to Act Early, How to Think About Lag Time, and a Model You Can Use

NOTE FROM TIM: The following was written by a close friend who has decades of experience in healthcare systems and advanced training in computer science and healthcare data science. He preferred to publish anonymously to avoid political headaches, so I’ll call him “Felix.” We are publishing this quickly for reasons that will soon be obvious, …

Some Thoughts on Coronaviruses and Seatbelts

“Hope is not a strategy.“ — James Cameron A prescient article titled “Body Count” by Epsilon Theory/Ben Hunt (@epsilontheory) was recently sent to me by one of my smartest and most connected friends.  It paints a spooky picture of the Chinese reports of what has been informally referred to as “Wuhan coronavirus.” Per the WHO …