The novelist Reynolds Price, who died last year, paused to note the sorry status of book sections in his 2009 memoir, “Ardent Spirits.” When he was starting out in the 1950s, he wrote, a first novel in America received about 90 individual reviews; now a decent first novel is lucky to get 20. Most of those will be amiable squirts of plot description topped, like a lemon slice on a Diet Coke, with the dread weasel-word “compelling.”
The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well. Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints: 1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times. 2. Write the way you talk. Naturally. 3. Use short... words, short sentences and short paragraphs. 4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass. 5. Never write more than two pages on any subject. 6. Check your quotations. 7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it. 8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it. 9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do. 10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want. David
Physical proximity, in Kelly's view, was everything. People had to be near one another. Phone calls alone wouldn't do. Kelly had even gone so far as to create "branch laboratories" at Western Electric factories so that Bell Labs scientists could get more closely involved in the transition of their work from development to manufacture.
In sum, he trusted people to create. And he trusted them to help one another create. To him, having at Bell Labs a number of scientific exemplars — “the guy who wrote the book,” as these standouts were often called, because they had in fact written the definitive book on a subject — was necessary. But so was putting them into the everyday mix. In an era before cubicles, all employees at Bell Labs were instructed to work with their doors open.