How not to be a jerk when you post blog comments

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If the comment you made didn’t appear on my blog (or for that matter, on any blog), chances are you were being a jerk. Honestly, the rules are pretty much the same as they were 12 years ago when Charlene Li and I wrote about this stuff. And they’re pretty good rules for any conversation … Continued

A goal worthy of thanks

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I am thankful for many things in my life, but in the context of this blog, one thing stands out. I get to do work I love every day and get paid for it. What I love is writing, editing, coaching writers, and helping people in companies to write better. This year I worked with … Continued

The power of calm writing in a frantic world

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I chose to spend five weeks writing about politics leading up the election, in a collection of posts I called “The Rationalist Papers.” The posts succeeded in their goals. Now that the stress and excitement of the election is (mostly) behind us, I’ll take you inside what happened and why it worked — and what … Continued

Good work if you can get it

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I’m trapped in my home just like the rest of you. I haven’t worked for a company for five years. Here’s my cure for depression: helping people. And as a freelancer, I can do that any way I want to. These are things I’m doing (or have done) this week. I took a whole day … Continued

Test your ethics: 11 real-world ethical challenges

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I’ve faced many ethics quandaries in my long career. You will, too. Everyone believes they are ethical. But when it’s time to decide, what will you actually do? Real-life ethics test Here’s a list of ethical situations, most of which I actually faced. Put yourself in my shoes. What would you do? In the interest … Continued

How to negotiate without budging on price

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Once I quote a job, I fiercely resist changing the price. But that doesn’t mean I won’t negotiate. If you ask me for help with idea development, editing, coaching, or ghostwriting, I’ll get you a quote. Same for a corporate writing workshop. Like any other freelancer, my quotes are based on two things: How many … Continued

The Smartass Manifesto

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I’m a smartass. That’s my brand. I might as well admit it. What does that mean? It means that in any given situation — meeting, client interaction, blog post, reaction to news, Facebook post, romantic date — my mind immediately tries to find a unique, snarky, counterintuitive take. The ultimate smartass remark, intended to get … Continued

Doing well by doing good

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I’m on track for a very good year in a very bad year. How did I get here? By helping people that need help — and saying “yes” as much as possible. This is a terrible year for many of us. Some of our friends are sick, and many of us have lost our jobs. … Continued