Be specific.


When I edit an essay, I often leave the comment “be more specific.” Almost any essay or application can be improved through specificity. A precise statement helps you say more in fewer words, avoid confusion, and convey the uniqueness of yourself, your subject, and your experiences.

“You write to discover why you write”? Do you really?

Near Higashi-Matsubara Station

There’s something that drives me forward in life, and I want to understand it. Don’t you? There’s some quote I’ve heard a dozen times that doesn’t have a single source now if it ever did: “I write to discover why I write.” The same quote comes in different forms: “I dance to find out why I dance,” or even, “I live in order to learn why I’m alive.” It’s all the same idea. To be honest, most of the time when I hear someone say this, I suspect they say it more for style than for truth.

How to live in Japan for three months

Setagaya, Japan

Somehow, I’ve arrived in Tokyo. I have a room, food, internet, insurance, and have already started meeting some interesting people. Before now, I had never been to Japan, nor did I know anyone in Japan. And plane tickets aside, I expect my living here to cost only slightly more than in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. If you work online like me or have a few months you’d like to spend somewhere different, here’s a convenient guide to bring you to 日本.

Are commitments decisions?

Tinker Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail

As a kid, I figured that a young man became a writer by deciding to be one. I only needed to decide to start exercising, to start learning Japanese, to start reading the collected works of Shakespeare with enough sincere gusto that my goals would draw to me as if on the end of a string.