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

Is it new? If not, don’t bother posting it.

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Whether you’re doing a blog, a podcast, a video series, or a book, it had better include new information. Otherwise, don’t bother. This is, after all, the era of social media. If you like what somebody else wrote or posted, you can easily share it on Twitter or Facebook. Posting stuff that isn’t new is … Continued

The emotional side of editing (and being edited)

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It’s your prose, lovingly crafted. An editor has now started tearing it apart. What’s your reaction? Are you angry? Sad? Hurt? Here’s how to deal with it. The context for this post is personal. For the last two weeks, I’ve been working on an op-ed about Facebook and similar sites for the Sunday opinion page … Continued

Trademarks in books and other prose: how to mark and when to claim them

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Trademarks confuse writers. Here are some tips on how to address trademarks in prose — and whether you ought to protect your own special names for things with them. Start with this: I’m not a lawyer. I hope you find this helpful — it’s based on decades of experience as a writer — but if … Continued