A happy retirement

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When you work for a company — or are building your own business — you need to make compromises for the long-term. You might have to travel a lot, obey commands from a stupid boss, or perform in ways that create ethical compromises. And you’ll probably be working harder, and more hours, than you’d like, … Continued

What did you learn today? And would you blog it?

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After 1,789 blog posts here, I may have learned something about blogging — and about myself. And if I’ve learned something, I’ve also learned that I have to share it. What did you learn today? Imagine for a moment that, like me, you have decided to do a substantive blog post every weekday. What would … Continued

The price of pushy

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One afternoon a couple years ago I was sitting peacefully in my den reading when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It got louder and softer, but never went away, and I’d never heard that particular sound in my house before. Like any other homeowner, I carefully looked around my house to determine if some … Continued

Repetition in writing: why it happens, what it means, and how to fix it

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Every editor has had this experience: deep into a manuscript, you find yourself reading a familiar passage. Sure enough, it duplicates content that was earlier in the manuscript. Don’t just delete it. Ask yourself why it’s there, and use that knowledge to make the manuscript better. Why writers repeat themselves All writers repeat information in … Continued

How to get the most out of an online workshop

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I give writing workshops. Some clients find them awesome. For others, they are less effective. Since I am usually delivering similar content, what accounts for the difference? The value often depends on the way the client has positioned the workshop and the way participants engage during the session. So here’s some advice on how to … Continued

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi showed us flow. Writers need flow. And tech destroys it.

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Last week, the great psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi died. Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chik-sent-mee-hai-ee) advanced our understanding of happiness and creativity enormously by codifying the concept of “flow,” a highly pleasurable and concentrated state of mind in which people are enormously productive. Every writer needs to know about flow — what it is, why it is important, and … Continued

How the empathetic expert generates trust

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I was thinking about why I trust one particular doctor more than others. It comes down to two things: expertise and empathy. Neither, by itself, is sufficient. The doctor is Caroline Levine. She is a specialist who I visit at least twice a year, and who is protecting my health from serious jeopardy. She has … Continued

Never say “shared” and other tips for quoting people

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If you write articles, blog posts, or books, you’re going to quote people. I recommend the tried and true “said.” Avoid other dialogue verbs, especially “shared.” “Shared” makes you sound like a total novice Does this impress you? When I interviewed her on Zoom, she was very excited about the new idea. “We expect this … Continued