Writing Note by Note is a site about the process of writing for the 21st century, written for 21st century practitioners. While WNbN ranges across journalism, content, fiction and literary nonfiction, the tools and practices found here can be extended to any other genre of writing.

I'm Jack Beaudoin. I've been writing professionally as a journalist for three decades, as a freelancer and beat reporter, columnist and editor. I've also written academic papers, authored manuals and technical documents, kept journals, published a few short stories and essays, maintained correspondences, and dispatched more memos than I care to remember. And while I hate to admit it, I have an advanced degree in composition.

In short, I belong to the subspecies homo scriptans.

The originating ethos of Writing Note by Note can probably be articulated in a few principles:

❖ write your own rules
The site's content is not intended to be prescriptive. It's banal to say that the one rule of writing is that there are no rules, although in many cases finding — and following — rules is a fine initial path to competence. There's a reason books like those by Strunk and White (The Elements of Style) and Stephen King (On Writing) are perennial best-sellers. But for those who are eager to move from competence to mastery, it's essential to write your own rules. What this means, at bottom, is not that rules don't apply, but that you apply them to meet your own goals.

❖ develop your own tools
In the same way, the tools and technologies described here should not be adopted with an expectation that they'll work perfectly for you out of the box or into the future. Tools don't make the craftsperson. A craftsperson must choose his or her own tools, sometimes even fabricating them, so that they can become an embodied extension of one's being. Consider the tools I write about in the spirit of example, as personal testimony, and encouragement to discover your own.

❖ find the joy that sustains your practice
I know a lot of writers who are miserable. I used to be one. Misery emerges from a variety of sources, but I've often seen it originate from an authentic and honest desire to achieve some kind of validation for one's work. When one's work doesn't live up to one's own aspirations, when it doesn't receive recognition, it — the doing of the work — can wrench the heart. It can make the thing you love most an excruciating ordeal. The way out is to give up the fruits and take your joy from the practice itself. Unless you're a mercenary, there's something in the act of writing that has fulfilled you before, that brought you back to the desk. That's the wellspring of meaning and eudaemonia. That's the only thing that counts in the end.