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I’ve always been fascinated by the great poets, and not just because I couldn’t write a poem if my life depended upon it, but because I’m in awe of how the poet can squeeze so much meaning out of so few words.

The 19th-Century poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) inspired people into action with just twenty words:

Greatly begin! Though thou have time
But for a line, be that sublime,
Not failure, but low aim is crime.

Many a successful novelist has taken a page from the poet’s playbook. Minimalist wordsmiths like Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and Bret Easton Ellis have all built towering careers saying less but meaning more. I try to do this in my own writing, but it’s not easy. The more we write, the more most of us realize we still have so much to learn.

Have you considered writing?

  • Yes, I already write!

  • I'd love to give it a go.

  • No, I prefer to read.

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