My Clock Makes Me Angry

I am a big fan of good design. Whether it’s the newest gadget, or a business that runs really well, I can admire the intelligence and hard work that went into it. Take, for example, Out of This World Pizza. It’s a pizza place near where I live with enormous indoor play structures for the kids to run around in. Not an uncommon business model, but every time I go in I notice something else that makes me say “Wow. These guys know what they’re doing.”

On the far side of this extreme is my clock. The one by my bed. I get up with my baby, so this has nothing to do with the tyranny of the morning alarm. No. This is a small error, really a tiny little thing, that can push me into a seething rage if I let it. Like many clocks, it has two buttons: one to set minutes and one to set hours.

Here’s the thing. The minute button is to the left of the hour button. The left. The buttons are arranged in the exact opposite order as the actual minutes and hours are on the clock face and in our cognition. I’d say “what were they thinking?” but it’s obvious nobody was.

How does this relate to writing? It’s a tiny thing, but it spoils my enjoyment of my clock every time I think about it. (Well, to be fair, I kind of enjoy raging on about it.) What small elements of writing can turn off a client, disinterest an editor, or bore a reader? With my clock, it’s clear that somebody just didn’t take that last step to make things excellent. Never do that with your writing.

Thanks for listening.

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