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 marketing, fiction and literary nonfiction, the tools and practices found here can be extended to any other genre of writing.

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 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.

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. The tool doesn't make the craftsperson. Instead, they are offered in the spirit of example, as personal testimony, and encouragement.

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

  1. Write your own rules
  2. Develop your own tools
  3. Find the joy that sustains your practice

I hope the contents of this site, the contents of my own experience, inspire you to do so.