February 26, 2021

A means of holding myself accountable.

Finished A Promised Land. I started this one back in December, leafing through a few pages here and there. It’s a weighty text (700 pages), so it’s not ideal for bedtime — when I do most of my reading. Finally dragged the fucker into bed with me and knocked out the last 500 pages in four days.

Finished Death In Her Hands. Picked this one up not long ago at Malaprops. I’m a sucker for autographed first editions, especially when they are brand new releases. It means the publisher has high hopes for it…

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

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A rainbow appears after a frigid rainstorm on Harkers Island, North Carolina

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?


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

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Photo by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash

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.

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Photo by Miles Burke on Unsplash

“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…

Please, stop crying. People are staring.

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Photo by Steven Weeks on Unsplash

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…

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

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Photo by Alex Lee on Unsplash

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.

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Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

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…

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

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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…

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

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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.

A quest for Pet Sounds

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Photo by Glen Hodson on Unsplash

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.

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

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