Zen and the art of productivity

Zen master Hyakujo used to labor with his pupils even at the age of 80. The pupils felt sorry to see him working so hard, but they knew he wouldn’t listen to them, so they hid his tools.

That day the master didn’t eat. The next day he didn’t eat, nor the next. “He may be angry because we hid his tools, we’d better put them back.”

He then worked and ate as before. In the evening he instructed them: “No work, no food.”

Seinfeld on writing daily

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

"Don't break the chain," he said again for emphasis.

The Writers


On constantly mishearing ‘rioting’ as ‘writing’ on the BBC

There has been writing for ten days now
unabated. People are anxious, fed up.
There is writing in Paris, in disaffected suburbs,
but also in small towns, and old ones like Lyon.
The writers have been burning cars; they’ve thrown
homemade Molotov cocktails at policemen.
Contrary to initial reports, the writers
belong to several communities: Algerian
and Caribbean, certainly, but also Romanian,
Polish, and even French. Some are incredibly
young: the youngest is thirteen.
They stand edgily on street-corners, hardly
looking at each other. Long-standing neglect
and an absence of both authority and employment
have led to what are now ten nights of writing.

first published in The Observer