We say we have to travel to see our families for the holidays. Why did we leave in the first place?

Image for post
Image for post

It’s the busiest travel day of the year and we are a part of it. By chance, not by choice, we’re a little bit amazed at the number of people who line up at the gas pumps before 9 AM on a Sunday morning. Most are heading home after sitting and spreading with their family for the weekend.

I hear the same excuse echoed all throughout — if we don’t use this time to see our families, then we would never have the time to see our family. Is this an excuse? Or an indication of a bigger problem?

We had been here a year and never seen the coast; we were running out of reasons not to. One doesn’t think of North Carolina as a coastal state, but here she is with several coasts, her inner and Outer Banks, over 12,000 miles of shoreline in all. Of course, everyone has a boat here. …

Everyone around here loves the health inspector for all the wrong reasons.

Image for post
Image for post

You get tired of looking at the grey and the brown, the bare trees and the dead grass. The crisp golds and reds of the fall season look soggy and brown with the first handful of frosts and everything outside your window looks like a lifeless compost heap.

Does it look this way to you?

The headlines say something about how there is another lockdown looming. …

And the question I get asked all of the time.

Image for post
Image for post

“What do you use?”

It doesn’t matter what I use. It also doesn’t matter what you use.

For all of the wonder and mystery people like to espouse about Hemingway, he wrote with a fucking pencil. Joyce had a fountain pen. David Foster Wallace put together most of Infinite Jest on a typewriter (you know, the thing without the delete key).

Jonathan Franzen yanked the wifi card from his laptop and filled the ethernet ports with glue. He saves his drafts to a USB thumb drive — what a fuckin thrill-seeker.

What’s the best app/ tool/ method? Whatever doesn’t get in your way. If you think the “right app” is the only thing keeping you from writing your story, then you were probably never meant to write it in the first place. …

Please, stop crying. People are staring.

Image for post
Image for post

Hey Milton,

Listen, before you freak out, just listen. This is for the best. What happened to your manuscript over the past few weeks, it had to be this way. You get that, right?

I’m only putting this out there because first-time authors freak out when they open up the document I sent back to them, the one with all of the tracked changes. It is usually a mass of pulp, dripping with red ink like freshly smashed roadkill. Of course, it’s not ink. Everything is digital — less mess.

But it’s still a mess. All those red lines of corrections and suggested edits and notes in the margin? …

Without something to hold your ass to the wall, you’ll never get better or make the thing you want to make.

Image for post
Image for post

A decade ago, I responded to a Craigslist ad from a guy who wanted to start a writing group. Screenwriting, specifically. He knew he needed to work with like-minded writers to hone his craft and stay on point. He needed accountability.

Six of us met at Common Grounds in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood (it has long since closed down) and shared the things we were working on. Not all of us were screenwriters, but I don’t think it mattered. We all wanted to know: there are other people in this world who put words to the page. …

Influence, Persuasion, and Redemption in an era of extreme individualism.

Image for post
Image for post

Right now, with the device you are reading this essay on, you can send a message to the inbox of any other person on the planet for any reason at all. Every one of us is open to the opinions of 7 billion people, and they are open to ours. The opportunity to influence entire populations of people is at critical mass, yet we have a wholly ineffective way of doing it.

In the 1930s, Dale Carnegie had a lecture circuit called How to Win Friends and Influence People. It was wildly popular with salespeople who were in the very new, uncharted territory of consumer sales, which relied on persuading total strangers to your way of thinking. You know, Influencing People. The resulting book of the same title has sold over 30 million copies in the 80ish years since it’s publishing. …

Me? I’m a fan of hard-truths delivered with a fistful of sand. Can you take it?

Image for post
Image for post

College was rough. I was not an exemplary student. I have no excuse, I was just there — fueled by an upbringing of teen movies where the high schoolers go on to college, and the college kids go on to a life of binge drinking and risky sex practices. Settling into advanced studies of beer and whiskey, I gave minimal effort to the required classes with ‘theory’ in the title hosted at 8 in the morning because that’s when the professor felt “most active.”

These were the classes where a new 15-page paper was required every other week, only to have it come back with “ See Me” written across the top of it. The professor who so desperately wanted to see me would turn into vapor for the next few weeks — nowhere to be found, canceled office hours, a ghost. After a few semesters of this, I made no effort to see them. If they wanted to share something with me beyond what they had stuffed into the margins of the paper, they would have to give chase. …

A daily writing practice lets your brain play — an essential for everyone — especially those who say “I’m not a writer.”

Image for post
Image for post

You don’t have to travel far or wide in this world to understand there are two different types of people populating this dreck of an existence we all share. The first are people who have a seemingly infinite number of ideas rattling around in their heads. These ideas are infinite in capacity and capability and, frequently, escape through their mouths at a rapid pace propelled only by an outrageous volume.

The second type of person seems to have nothing going on in their head. At all. Their perpetual thousand-yard stare into nothingness only rivals the theoretical void between their ears.

This isn’t to say you should pledge allegiance to one camp or the other, or you should strive to be or not be one type of person or another. The unfortunate truth: you are who you are, and you can’t do much about it. Don’t get me wrong: I very much wish I could wave my wand around and change it all. …

A quest for Pet Sounds

Image for post
Image for post

Things Sara had learned early on: don’t ask the person behind the register and don’t get caught the white earbud headphones that come packaged with a new iPhone. The guys behind the counter weren’t there to be helpful; they didn’t so much want to be asked anything as they just wanted their opinions of music to be challenged in a way they could both demean the customer and while still feeling confident in their musical taste.

They never wanted to help her find a very specific edition, or pressing? — she wasn’t sure what to call it, of Pet Sounds.

“Really?” …

Fake or authentic, in the online space it all costs the same.

Image for post
Image for post


There are a handful of people who think I am good friends with former NFL quarterback Brock Osweiler.

For ages now, the adage has stayed the same: “Don’t believe anything you read online.” Don’t believe what you see online either.

To be safe, don’t believe anything at all. Ever.

The story of my friendship to Brock Osweiler started at the crossroads of my friend John anticipating his firstborn, and my impeccable ability to give the best worst gifts imaginable. …


David Pennington

Been writing for years, now I’m helping others do the same. #copywriting #content #email Never miss an update: http://dtpennington.com/subscribe

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store