You should avoid lists of words to avoid

People keep sending me word lists. “Use these words,” they say. “Don’t use these other words.” If you want to be a better writer, these lists are useless, because they don’t change how you think. Words to ban from tech? This list is way too short Robert Dean lists “20 bullsh*t buzzwords that should be banned … Continued

The Edelman Trust Barometer shows how we’ve driven into a ditch

We are living in a portentous moment, characterized by distrust in our leaders and institutions. But what’s the context — is it measurably worse now, and what does it mean? The global communications firm Edelman has released its 2017 edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey on exactly these topics. Edelman clearly and evocatively … Continued

How change happens. (Hint: it’s not through New Year’s resolutions.)

Things are going to be different this year, you have resolved. But that’s not how change happens. It’s a process. Here’s how New Year’s resolutions (don’t) work. You figure out something you want to change. You make a resolution. “I want to quit smoking” or “I want to stop using the passive voice.” You try really … Continued

Ask these questions to subvert your bullshit culture

Bullshit in your company is no accident. You can work on fixing it. Or you can just get people thinking by asking a few questions. When you have to collaborate on bullshit documents, your soul is in peril. If bullshit pervades your company and your managers don’t care — and assuming yoiu can’t switch jobs — you’ll need … Continued

Is “that” a bad word? (Ask Dr. Wobs)

Must you delete the word “that” when it connects two clauses in a sentence? Nope. Today, in response to a reader’s question, I restore your faith in “that” and show why you shouldn’t treat it as toxic. Dear Dr. Wobs: Why did you use the word “that” in Writing Without Bullshit where it didn’t seem necessary? For example … Continued

10 easy New Year’s resolutions for writers in 2017

Want to write better? Change a writing habit. Here are ten ways to be a better writer: pick one, then stick with it. (Tell me which one you picked in the comments.) 1. Stop sending first-draft emails. Most of what you write is email. While it creates the biggest impression in aggregate, you’re not spending … Continued

How a tweetstorm can punch up your writing style

Yesterday, we saw two incredible tweetstorms: NYU Professor Jay Rosen shared his thoughts on the unique challenges for journalists covering Donald Trump, while strategic analyst Eric Garland explained the rationale behind Russian hacking. Their tweetstorms reveal a new, disciplined way of writing, with no room for bullshit. Here’s what you can learn from writing a … Continued

Change how you write. It’s not that hard. And it’s worth it.

The main competition for my book Writing Without Bullshit is not another book. It’s inertia. It’s easier to do nothing. But the changes I’ve suggested aren’t that hard to do, and they make a big difference. The changes are simple and well-defined Here’s what the book says you should change, in a nutshell: Write shorter, and … Continued