Write Now

How an author explored patience to write a book optioned by DreamWorks

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Photo courtesy of Paul Kix

Paul Kix is a best selling author and writer for multiple outlets, including The New Yorker, GQ, ESPN, New York, and The Wall Street Journal. When Paul goes without writing for days at a time, he enters a depressive state. Creativity has a way of not only energizing the brain, but releasing those much-needed endorphins that translate to our happiness. In other words, creativity is good for us.

Paul Kix.

Nonfiction books and magazine-length pieces and essays. My last book, The Saboteur, was a №1 best-seller on Amazon. DreamWorks optioned it for a film. …

It’s something journalism school will not teach you.

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Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

I’ve made my living for 20 years as a longform writer and author and it took me more than 10 to learn the most essential truth of storytelling:

Delay, delay, delay.

What do I mean by that? Well, this tip is particularly for those of us, ironically enough, who majored in journalism. The first thing we learn in j-school is the inverted pyramid: Putting your best material first, out of fear you’ll only have the reader’s attention for a moment. …

The one rule to learn to succeed in business or life.

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Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

I lost my job November 6th. Got laid off from the place, ESPN, with which I’d had a professional affiliation since my undergraduate days. It stung…but getting canned wasn’t surprising: When a sports network goes months without live sports and then when the games return but the fans don’t watch them, at least not at the volume they did before the pandemic, you assume that executives at a place like ESPN have hard choices ahead. I’d like to assume my boss’ choice to let me go was hard, but…

Here’s what we do with them next.

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Image source.

Thomas Friedman wrote a great column yesterday, in the hours before the insurrection. He argued that the more than 100 Congressional Republicans who refused to certify the election — in effect refusing to honor nothing less than American democracy — “should carry the title ‘coup plotter’ forever.”

I agree. Wednesday was (thankfully) an unsuccessful coup d’etat. The rioters who sieged the Capitol were not organized enough or (again, thank God) smart enough to find a way to remain there through the night, syncing their forces with the president who instigated their insurrection, a president who could have then called on…

First: Refuse to write new year’s resolutions.

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Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

It’s not that they don’t work, new year’s resolutions: There’s a long and, frankly, accredited history that highlights the power of writing down your goals as the way to realize them. I’m not here to bag on setting goals. Setting goals is how I started my business. Setting goals is how I became an author.

The problem with setting goals, though, is the assumption that fulfilling them will bring you happiness.

They won’t. And there’s also a long and, frankly, accredited history that demonstrates how reaching a goal is not the same thing as finding happiness.

If it’s happiness you’re…

The best novel I read this year is:

Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett: A tough choice because I loved and still think about, like on a daily basis, Richard Powers’ The Overstory. Patchett’s book wins out not necessarily because it’s a better novel but because I got more out of it as a writer — and think you might too. Patchett experiments with the sequence of her story, about two families whose lives intersect across multiple generations. Her approach is innovative, invigorating even, but never hard to follow. …

The surprising lesson I learned from a favorite scientific book

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Photo by Fabrizio Conti on Unsplash

One night last week my daughter couldn’t sleep and wanted to talk, of all things, about climate change. She’s 11. The more I listened to her the more the conversation drifted to what John McPhee called “deep time”: geological time, the impressive sweep of the planet’s history. To relay the point I wanted to make to her I found my copy of A Short History of Nearly Everything, and then my favorite passage, in which Bill Bryson imagines Earth’s 4.5-billion-year reign compressed into a single day.

I told my daughter…

I read the most sinister short story last week: Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. So The London Review of Books started this feature, “Diverted Traffic,” at the outset of the pandemic. People who subscribe get a story delivered to their inbox that has nothing to do with the plague, or the depressing politics of 2020, or really anything that might appear in our social media feeds. Diverted Traffic is complete escapism. This week’s piece was an old review of Shirley Jackson’s short stories and novels, when the Library of Congress saw fit to corral them in one volume. …

It’s the best and perhaps lone lesson of history

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Getty Images

We’re only now emerging from the most divisive election of our lifetimes, which means what lies ahead is even harder than the election season: the reconstruction.

For months, in the background of my days and when I’ve had the time, I’ve listened to William Manchester’s biography of Douglas MacArthur, American Caesar. I don’t know if it was kismet or coincidence but last week I reached the point in the book where the Japanese surrendered, World War II ended, and MacArthur presided over a ruined and enfeebled Japan.

He and other American…

For starters: never revere any book

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The trick I learned about reading from the Nobel-winning writer Alice Munro. (Image source.)

Don’t be dutiful with the books you read.

Here’s why: At the moment, in the margins of my day and when I have the time, I’m reading William Manchester’s biography of Douglas MacArthur. It’s lonnnnnnngggg, 811 pages in hardback, over 30 hours on my Audible app. Am I listening intently to every word?

Pfft. No.

Books contain life-changing wisdom and often a lot of crap. Useless asides. Boring sub-plots. I say skip over that. Space out a bit.

I think too many people suffer through books because they’ve been taught they should. They’ve learned…

Paul Kix

Best-selling author of The Saboteur. Learn the 7 rules Pulitzer winners and top-selling authors follow to make more money: https://www.paulkixnewsletter.com/

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