In March 1963, a famed American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz published a paper in Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, in which he demonstrated how a tiny change in initial conditions of a weather model can create a significantly different outcome. His ideas led to such a heated debate in the scientific community, that it prompted Lorenz to state this:
“One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull’s wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls“
Later, Lorenz replaced a sea gull with a more colorful animal, known as butterfly. His 1972 talk, titled Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? sealed the expression. Thus, the butterfly effect was born. The expression flapped its wings and flew into everyday language, strengthened by Ray Bradbury’s short story A Sound of Thunder, where the demise of a single butterfly changes the course of history.
Regardless of its sometimes debated origin, the term represents a very powerful idea. Tiny things can lead to big outcomes. And as I write this introduction, I can’t think of a more appropriate analogy for my rapid journey that has led me to this point.
Just a couple of months ago, in a true spur-of-a-moment fashion, I showed up on Medium, introduced myself as Nom de Plume, and published a short post stating my intention to write without disclosing my name. That tiny post turned out to be my butterfly. As it was flapping its little wings, collecting claps (Medium’s equivalent of likes), and some very encouraging responses, it prompted to me write more posts on topics ranging from writing to dreaming. Next, came weekly summaries aptly named The Weekly Nom, which logically led to The Daily Nom newsletter. More people replied. More posts followed. The flapping of tiny wings felt more and more like an airflow produced by a powerful fan.
And then I wrote a post titled The Secret Ingredient of Powerful Writing. In a few days, it became my most popular article, collecting over a thousand claps. More importantly, it prompted readers to leave comments like “This resonated like a well struck bell” and “What a great read! I was stuck in a rut with some copy I was working on and suddenly it clicked.” These comments were better than praise. They were a clear indication that something in that post was helping readers with their own writing.
I could just let the butterfly keep flapping its wings. But that just didn’t feel right. What felt right was taking the next step. And so I wrote a follow-up post, realized in the process of writing that my article was anything but random, and asked how interested the readers would be in a whole book on the subject.
The answer was a resounding very interested.
And so here I am. The flapping of my little butterfly’s wings has gone beyond a fan’s airflow. Now it’s a powerful wind filling the sails of a brigantine, I’ve been busy building for the last two days. The brigantine’s name is Nom Writes (with the port of origin being nomwrites.com) and as it sailes through the rough waters of the treacherous Writing Sea, its journey will be documented in a book called Powerful Writing.
As I write the book, I will be publishing its fragments here as articles. I have a loose structure in mind, but as the book takes shape, I will be, without a doubt, rearranging the parts, diving deeper into some topics, and probably only briefly touching others. You will see the book appearing almost in real-time, and your feedback will play a key role in shaping it. All published articles will be linked from this page.
If you want to join me on this journey, all you need to do is subscribe. And now let’s discover the secrets of powerful writing together.