The politically incorrect editor

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I get complaints about how my advice is insensitive to certain types of humans and living things. I will not turn my advice into mush. I like it crunchy. Most of you do, too. If you don’t like it, read somebody else. Here are my responses to the complaints people have made or may be … Continued

Using Microsoft Word to prepare a book manuscript? Avoid these 14 mistakes.

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You think you know how to use Microsoft Word to write? What you’re doing may be fine for creating a draft to print out, but confusing to the people doing the book page layout and design. If you’re preparing content to be laid out in pages, here are a dozen-plus simple mistakes you really ought … Continued

Skills vs. expertise: a 12-month thought experiment

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I used to be an expert in marketing. And yesterday, I skipped the Super Bowl and didn’t watch a single $5 million commercial. I must be a fraud. Here’s a secret: I don’t know all that much about marketing. (Shh, don’t tell anyone.) So how the heck did I get to be an “expert?” I … Continued

How your organization’s writing reveals its problems — and potential fixes

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All organizations have challenges. What I’ve realized in the past two years is that you can spot those challenges just from reviewing what and how you write. Better writing can even help you fix some of those organizational problems. I’ve given dozens of writing workshops to a variety of organizations: startups, law firms, entertainment companies, … Continued

How (not) to hire a speaker

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When you want to hire a speaker, your job is to provide the information that allows the speaker to make a decision — quickly and efficiently. That information ought to be obvious. If you waste the speaker’s time, you won’t close the deal. What information does the speaker need? It’s simple: Location (or virtual) Timing … Continued

Contributed op-ed case study (4): Editing and revision

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Writing an opinion piece is rarely the end of the process. The editors of your target publication are likely to request revisions. An effective writer budgets time for those revisions and maintains effort and creativity through the revision cycle. Responding to edits In the last three posts, I explained how I pitched, researched, and wrote … Continued

Contributed op-ed case study (3): Planning and writing

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Writing can be easy, provided you prepare properly. I’ll show how that applied to the op-ed I placed in the Boston Globe last Sunday. Let’s start by talking about two types of writers, planners and pantsers, a concept I borrow from fiction writers. Planners are the people who map everything out ahead of time, in … Continued

Contributed op-ed case study (2): Research

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If you’re contributing a piece to a major publication, they will want something new. If it’s new, it probably requires research. Today I’ll share how I do research — and specifically, what I did for the piece I published last week in the Ideas section of the Boston Sunday Globe. As I described yesterday, I … Continued