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

Counterfactuals are perilous. Adam Sandler take notice.

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Here’s the misleading headline and opening from Dan Reilly’s article about movies in Fortune magazine: Netflix’s ‘Murder Mystery’ Would’ve Killed With a $120 Million Opening Weekend—If the Adam Sandler Comedy Ran in Theaters If Adam Sandler’s new Netflix movie Murder Mystery drew the same U.S. box office numbers as it did via streaming, it would have made … Continued

Why you can’t just keep doing what you’re doing. Especially after 50.

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The Atlantic has a fascinating piece by Arthur C. Brooks called “Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think.” It forces you to face the inevitable: you won’t always be as good as you are now, and no, you won’t keep getting better. Here’s what to do about it. As Brooks, president of … Continued

Stop arguing with editors

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Your editor makes a comment or suggestion you don’t like and don’t agree with. What do you do now? There is one wrong answer to this question, and three right answers. The wrong answer is to argue with the editor. Why? Convincing the editor that she is wrong is of no value to you. Who … Continued

15 questions editors can ask to get writers unstuck

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Your writer is stuck. The piece seems hopeless. How can you get them unstuck? Probably by asking a question. It’s best to ask these questions in a conversation, in person or on the phone, rather than in editorial comments. That leads to a dialogue. It makes the writer think. And that leads to solutions to … Continued