Think long term. That’s it. That’s the advice.

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Honestly, I think every stupid decision people make is because they can’t think more than fifteen minutes ahead. To wit: That argument you just “won” against your life’s companion — how’s that going to affect your relationship for the next few years? That clever company name you picked out that just happens to be the … Continued

How to plan and write pieces of any length

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What’s the best process to write something? The answer depends, more than anything else, on how long it is. You need a plan, but that plan depends on the length of what you’re aiming for. (This advice is for nonfiction. If you write fiction, I’m curious how much the process differs for you.) This post … Continued

The em dash is a bit of a jerk — replace it whenever possible

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Unless — and I admit this is possible — you’re trying to annoy the reader, try not to fall in love — or even in like — with the em dash. So many manuscripts I edit suffer from inflammation of the em dash — it’s rampant — as if these little buggers multiply like cockroaches. … Continued

How to fix rambling, repetitive prose

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It’s an editor’s nightmare. The writer produces content . . . reams of it. There are many ideas, but lots of repetition. And there’s no logic connecting it all. How can you turn this rambling wreck into a usable nonfiction narrative? The key is recognize that the problem here is structural, not textual. Editing the … Continued

Simple motivational hack

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This is how to get closer to your goal. 1 Figure out a worthwhile career goal Choose something big that you can realistically accomplish in the next five years. I’m not talking money or things that money brings (like “Afford a vacation home”). I’m talking career milestones. For example, “Write and publish a book,” “Become … Continued

There is no such thing as (nonfiction) writer’s block

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My writer friends tell me they’re suffering from writer’s block. They’re not. Oh, sure, they’re unable to write anything useful, but “writer’s block” conjures up an inability to write for unknowable reasons. In fact, I know exactly why they can’t write. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, allow me to help diagnose your problem — … Continued

Book tips: How many drafts should I write?

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A fellow nonfiction author recently shared that he’d written 18 drafts of his book. That’s probably too many. But how many is the right number? I’ll answer that question, but first, let’s talk about what a draft is. You have a chapter written. You go through and make a change. You save it under a … Continued

Ghosting stinks. Learn to write a rejection email.

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Is there anything you hate more than businesspeople who “ghost” you? In case you’re not up on the slang, “ghosting” is ending a relationship by just disappearing and failing to respond to all forms of communication (social media, texting, or email, for example). In a personal relationship, that’s cowardly. In a professional relationship, it’s very … Continued