Emergency Coffee

beyond "show, don't tell"

September is here. That means you have 30 days to figure out which font makes your writing best.


Write like a mother fucker by Sugar — Want to become a better writer? The article title hints at one strategy.

5 Pieces of Common Writing Advice You Should Absolutely Ignore by Stefanie London — I'll cancel out my giving advice in the first article by now sharing some anti-advice advice. Remember: writing advice is useful only when applied at the right moment in the right situation.

Why you should be a copycat by Daphne Gray-Grant — If you want to become a better writer, consider copying writing you enjoy. The process may reveal more than simply reading can.

No answer by William Gallagher — In fiction, characters should never directly answer a question. The story is far more interesting if they respond in other ways.

My Latest Job Rejection Email, Translated by Jenny Crowley — You've likely been hearing about the Great Resignation and all the people leaving their jobs for greener pastures. But rest assured everyone ain't having the easiest time jumping ship. Here's a (humorous) look at what some are experiencing.


Zombie Nouns: Trying to Sound Smart is a Pretty Dumb Strategy — Don't rely on nouns created by slapping on -ity, -tion, or -ism at the end. We can all write more clearly and directly without these zombie nouns.


How to get published from Content Rookie — Nicole Michaelis shares her experience with publishing her poetry collection and warns us of some things to look out for before signing on the dotted line.

Another month, another edition of Emergency Coffee

Articles & Blog Posts

Opening a Small-Town Bookstore During the Pandemic Was the Craziest Thing We Ever Did by Ryan Holiday – 2020 was a tough year for many businesses, but what about those scheduled to open their doors in the middle of the pandemic?

As a Journalist, I Thought I Wasn’t Precious About My Work—Then Someone Tore Apart My Novel by Jessica Goodman – Having someone else rip apart your dream is never easy.

Hoax Diaries Were the Original Deepfakes by Anna Lockhart – An interesting look into the fake memoir


Drafting and Editing: Hemingway's Wastebasket – Maybe we should all be more like Hemingway, in that we accept that our first drafts probably need some work.


Edge Effect from Hidden Brain – It's easy to understand why we gravitate to those most like us, but doing so may not be what's best for our creativity.

Is it Ok to Write the Same Story Over and Over from writing class radio – Writing the same story over and over is a quick way to feel as if you're repeating yourself, but every time we write about a specific topic, we likely uncover something new and gain a deeper understanding of the situation or event.

2021 is now halfway over. I don't have anything to add to that. It just sounded like the thing to say.


Against Mythologizing the Practice of Writing – Amber Sparks reminds us to stop romanticizing the craft.

Is Your Idea Better Suited to a Novel or a Short Story? – It's often hard to tell, but sometimes writing the story as a short story is a good start for a novel.

Is it OK to write fiction now without mentioning the pandemic? – Of course it is.

Shitty First Drafts – Anne Lamott makes the point your first draft will probably suck and require a lot of work to shine. Embrace it. SIDE NOTE: I recently read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's book on writing, and encourage you to check it out if you haven't done so already.

You Don't Need to Feel Guilty about Books you Haven't Read Yet – You know the saying: So many books, so little time. On top of that, I'm a slow reader. And perhaps most importantly, we should be reading for ourselves, not to impress others.


The Curse of Knowledge – The curse of knowledge can make it difficult for writers to communicate new ideas to readers. Remember that your readers don't know everything bouncing around in your head.

The Last Printing Press – From The Study: Watch this short film about a little shop in California that makes books the way they did at the turn of the century.


Knowing when to quit – If you decide to stop writing, remember that there is no boss to report to. You just stop doing it. And if you change your mind later and come back, that's cool too.

Hello, fellow writers. Today's a new month, which means a new edition of Emergency Coffee. Let's get to it.

Blogs & Articles

10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes) – Some grammar rules are made to be broken. The real question is which ones are okay to break. And when are they okay to break.

Will We Use Commas in the Future? – When are commas necessary, and when do they just get in the way?

How to Email – Short, sweet, straight to the point is usually a working formula.

How Bluey Became the Best Kids' Show of Our Time – If you have small kids and a Disney+ subscription, you owe it to your family to give Bluey a shot, as the show is one of those gems that kids and parents can enjoy. The creator's bootstrap mentality and willingness to challenge conventions have been crucial to the show's success.


From the Study Episode 1: Smith-Corona Sterling Typewriter – In our increasingly digital world, sometimes it's nice to have some analog in your life.

Sentence Flow: Sentences → Ideas → Persuasion – The pathway to persuasion starts with coherent sentences.


Speaking of persuasion...

No matter the genre, writing is ultimately an exercise in persuasion.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Emergency Coffee, a newsletter featuring writing-related articles and stories for your writerly consideration.

The point of this newsletter is to dig deeper than the same old writing advice you likely hear parroted over and over—think “show, don't tell” or when someone says never to use passive voice. Good writing is much more nuanced than that. And good writing is not just about technique; it's also about the philosophy behind why you use the words you use. And let's not forget about process.

Blogs & Articles

Show and Tell — Patrick Barry argues that “show, don't tell” is horrible advice. Instead we should seek to “show and tell”, to move between the general and the specific effectively.

Death by “As You Know” — William Gallagher makes the case that relying on “as you know” in dialogue is lazy exposition. This is true, as you know.

There is No One Way— Scott Nesbitt's point is the backbone of Emergency Coffee: Consider the contents of these newsletters and feel free to copy, adapt, or discard however you see fit.

Lunch Break — C.J. Eller makes the case that distancing yourself from your task may give you the space you need to find a solution. Remember this the next time you can't get your writing quite right.

Don't Be Better...Be “The Only” — James Altucher argues that, in an age in which everyone has endless options, it's not enough to be great. It's far better to stand out. What can you infuse into your writing style to make you “the only”?


The Rule of Three — “The good, the bad, and the ugly.” “For free. For everyone. Forever.” Why do these phrases work? Patrick Barry teaches you how to utilize the rule of three to establish rhythm in your own writing.

Trying to be Original Destroys Your Productivity — Captain Sinbad reminds us that “originality” comes from the juxtaposition of unoriginal ideas. Acknowledge your influences and get busy thinking about what you can steal from them and then infuse your own style to make it seem original.


Crypto, NFTs, and Blockchain ft. Raoul Pa‪l‬ — What does the blockchain have to do with writing? Raoul Pal chats with Scott Galloway about how the blockchain could revolutionize the relationship between creators and their fans by cutting out middlemen. Maybe one day soon I'll be announcing the launch of my exclusive crypto, Jakey Coin.

Until next time

I hope you've enjoyed my first stab at a writing newsletter. I've already got some interesting findings stored up for future months, so let's keep the gravy train rollin'.

If you have any feedback, feel free to drop me a line at newsletter@jakelacaze.com.

See ya next month.

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