Marcus Aurelius was a sage. He gave advice on many practical matters, including composition. Here’s one of my favorites:

That I did not use to walk about the house in my long robe, nor to do any such things. Moreover I learned of him to write letters without any affectation, or curiosity; such as that was, which by him was written to my mother from Sinuessa: and to be easy and ready to be reconciled, and well pleased again with them that had offended me, as soon as any of them would be content to seek unto me again. To read with diligence; not to rest satisfied with a light and superficial knowledge, nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of. (from Meditations).

So true.

Finding a writing style is difficult. We’re surrounded by some many voices in this regard. And it’s easy to lose our path…to mimic the phrasing or wording of others. So what’s the solution?

Be direct and to the point: i.e. write without affectation. By doing so, you’ll capture the normal pattern of speech. You’ll directly address the reader (as opposed to having your literary representative speak to them).

And when it comes to reading…do it with diligence! Another nice reminder. It’s so easy to skim, to skip, etc. As the modern acronym goes, TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). But what do we gain, really? It’s better to read five pages with passion than fifty with ambivalence.

Meditations is a book for all times. It’s a Bible of practical philosophy. And it becomes more relevant with each passing day…

See Related Article: The Wisdom of Seneca: On Mentorship

 

 

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