From writing workshops to cultural change — the importance of follow-through

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I’ve conducted 18 clear writing workshops in the past two years — mostly by videoconference. It’s clear to me that the participants are engaged and want to change. But do the workshops actually accomplish anything lasting? They can . . . but only if you customize the content and maximize the follow-through. I think this … Continued

Value ratios: a key metric for your book chapters

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Business book chapters are made out of ideas, stories, research, argumentation, and advice. To be readable, you need to maximize the stories and advice. Very simple: look at the chapter draft you wrote. Measure the number of words dedicated to each type of element: Ideas and frameworks. Principles you use to make your points. Stories. … Continued

James Bond, creativity, listening, and data

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John Logan, the scriptwriter behind two of the latest James Bond movies, is worried that when Amazon buys MGM, it will ruin 007. But data and corporate control doesn’t necessarily ruin creativity. It all depends on who’s making the creative decisions. John Logan’s lament for 007 Here’s some of what John Logan, co-writer of “Skyfall” … Continued

Editing it down

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Your writing would be better if it were shorter. In my survey of business writers, the top complaint about what they read is that it’s too long. The top complaint about what they write is also that it is too long. We know we have a wordiness problem. But how do you edit things down? … Continued

The two words that (nearly) always cure writer’s block

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You’re sitting staring and the page. You don’t know what to type. And the deadline is looming. Two words will break your trance: “Look, stupid.” Allow me to explain. What causes writer’s block This advice is for nonfiction writers only. (If you write fiction, you need advice from somebody else.) There are plenty of rational … Continued

The asshole rate

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What is the cost of being a pain in the ass? When I started my freelance business six years ago, I took whatever clients I could get. After a year or so, as my reputation grew, there was a steady stream of people asking for my help. I charged them three different rates. Some people … Continued

Count words, not pages

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I often ask writers I’m coaching how many words will be in the piece they are planning to write. They frequently don’t know. They say things like “It will be about three pages long.” You should get used to thinking in word counts rather than page counts. Why? Because word counts are the best measurement … Continued