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

10 house rules

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I’m about to buy a house and sell the one I’m living in. My current house is in total chaos due to packing, painting, and prepping for the move. Based on that experience, here are the ten immutable rules of houses and moving. When you put something down, it instantly becomes unfindable and will not … Continued

How to become awesome quickly

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Here’s the shortcut to success. There isn’t one. Quick is a cheat. The trick to being a better manager is to identify ways to steadily improve, get feedback, and make incremental changes. The trick to getting super-productive is to understand how best to use your time, steadily improve, get coaching, and make incremental changes. The … Continued

The value of Bill Birchard’s eight S’s for strong business writing

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In the Harvard Business Review, writing coach Bill Birchard describes how the brain responds to business writing and recommends ways to write better. His analysis generates some fascinating insights, but one key point is missing: business writing works only if if causes the reader to act. It’s worth your time to read Bill Birchard’s “The … Continued

Why you should write a strategy document — even if it’s just for yourself

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Writing a strategy document is the best way to make sure you, your business, or your organization move forward in a thoughtful way. It’s a discipline you should follow. What is a strategy document? “What is strategy?” is a tricky question, addressed by everyone from Michael Porter to every boss on the planet. But there’s … Continued