How to deal with crippling self-doubt: advice for authors

Continued">

Every nonfiction author feels it. That moment when you think “I can’t do this. I am not an author. I am helpless. I can’t move forward.” That’s crippling self-doubt. It’s so common, it deserves an acronym. CSD. Do you suffer from CSD? Please have hope. I’m here to help. First, here’s what doesn’t help This … Continued

Why are bad metaphors bad?

Continued">

“She had him like a toenail stuck in a shag carpet.” Is this a bad metaphor? what makes a metaphor work — or not work? This question occurred to me as I perused a set of “bad analogies” that were purportedly from high school students — but most of which were actually the results of … Continued

Executive summary tips and why the Barr/Mueller summary is driving everyone nuts

Continued">

Don’t summarize: drive points home with highlights. That’s how you should summarize a long report. It’s also why no one is satisfied with Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. If you write, you have to write summaries. Think of a summary as a movie trailer: it gives you the general … Continued

The 45-minute research interview

Continued">

Interviews make your reports and book chapters come alive; the more you can get, the better. To get them, you’re typically asking busy people to give you a little of their time on the phone or by video. How much time? 45 minutes. That’s my magic number, and I’ll explain why. The setup and the … Continued

What is machine learning? A psychedelic graphical journey

Continued">

You must always treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own. That’s the Iron Imperative, and it’s just as valid for graphics as it is for text. If you find yourself endlessly fiddling with with an elaborate diagram, ask yourself, “Is this really helping?” Then get help from a decent graphic artist. When … Continued

Editing brilliant thinkers

Continued">

I’ve been working with brilliant thinkers this month. Their brilliance doesn’t make them great writers — in fact, it sometimes gets in the way. The brilliant thinker often falls into what you might call the professor mode. After studying a subject in great deal — and often after accumulating massive amounts of experience — they … Continued

How to make sure your book sucks

Continued">

You don’t need to do all of these things to make your nonfiction book suck, but the more you do, the worse it will be. Never for a moment consider who the book is for. If anyone asks, just say “It’s perfect for everyone.” Start writing without an idea. Keep every word of your musings … Continued

Where do you find stories for your book? (Ask Dr. Wobs)

Continued">

Business books are made of stories. Where do they come from? Here’s today’s question: Dear Dr. Wobs  I am writing a business book and want to supplement my own experiences with relevant business anecdotes. (Google is virtually useless, although maybe I’m just doing it wrong.) Any suggestions? — Jack Finding stories We’re hard-wired to remember … Continued