The unwritten rules of collaborative courtesy

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Collaboration on writing is hard enough. It can work only when there is a shared understanding of process and assumptions. Some rules and conventions regarding writing collaboration seem obvious to me — so obvious that I never mention them, because an experienced writer would find it insulting. Then a perfectly well-meaning collaborator will break such … Continued

For nonfiction authors, productive obsession is a key habit

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Do you know everything there is to know about the topic you’re writing about? If not, you’re not trying hard enough. I want you to be obsessed. This is not a recommendation to acquire a mental illness. Obsession is a strategy, and I want you to apply it strategically. Here’s how it works. You think … Continued

A tip for writers: how I maximize productivity with 3 monitors

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When people find out I work with three monitors, they’re always curious. Here’s how that works for me and why I think it makes me a more productive writer and editor. The three-monitor setup First, the basics. I have a brand new MacBook Pro 16-inch, replacing one that I had used since 2013. (None of … Continued

Do these book tasks early — or end up in hell

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Repeat after me: When a book goes to copy edit, the content should basically be done. I can’t hear you in the back, there. Are you sure you believe it? Say it again: When a book goes to copy edit, the content should basically be done. Here’s the challenge. Your creative work on the book … Continued

The PITA principle, or when should you be a pain in the ass?

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Some people report that I am a sweet, nice, and supportive person. Others would say I am a pain in the ass who never backs down. Both are true. Here’s how that works. I don’t take much on faith. When my new doctor recently prescribed a medication, I had many, many questions. I was argumentative … Continued

“Can I pick your brain?”

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No. Usually. I get these requests all the time. And I am generous with free advice. Even so, how I respond is based on on where you land on two separate scales. How specific are you? “Can you help me with x?” is a lot different from “Can I pick your brain?” The more specific … Continued

How to be a terrible client (and what it will cost you)

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Working freelance is like a dance. When your partner works with you, it can be glorious. If the partner is oblivious, it is painful and ugly. Here’s the thing: I love my clients. I really do. There is the bright and energetic woman whose book will deliver great advice about how to succeed at work. … Continued

Two habits for a successful 2020

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How long will your New Year’s resolutions last? And what will you do once you have broken them? Ditch them and the guilt that goes along with them. Here are two easy habits that will propel your career this year. 1 Try new stuff This year, someone will put you in an uncomfortable position. You’ll … Continued