Best writing advice I’ve read all week:
How to avoid abstractitis: “Write physically. Write with physical objects… No matter how abstract your topic, how intangible, your first step is to find things you can drop on your foot.”
“What is a concrete noun?” a student might ask.
“It’s something you can drop on your foot,” I always answer. “It’s that simple.”
“So if I am writing about markets, productivity and wealth, I am going to….”
“Yes indeed — you are going to write about things you can drop on your foot, and people, too. Green peppers, ears of corn, windshield wipers, or a grimy mechanic changing your car’s oil. No matter how abstract your topic, how intangible, your first step is to find things you can drop on your foot.”
From John Maguire’s 2012 essay in The Atlantic, “The Secret to Good Writing: It’s About Objects, Not Ideas.”