How to plan and write pieces of any length

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What’s the best process to write something? The answer depends, more than anything else, on how long it is. You need a plan, but that plan depends on the length of what you’re aiming for. (This advice is for nonfiction. If you write fiction, I’m curious how much the process differs for you.) This post … Continued

Straight talk about how to come up with a book title

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It’s time to come up with a title for your book. “I want something iconic,” you’re thinking. “Like Lean In. Or The Tipping Point. Or Made to Stick.” You are deluded. And your delusion is leading you astray. These books sold because of huge promotion (Lean In) and incredible ideas and writing. You think they are great titles … Continued

Why getting stuck is part of coming up with great titles and taglines

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I help people with book titles and taglines. It’s not a linear process, and progress is impossible to measure. That’s a feature, not a bug. I had this insight recently when working with a client on a tagline for his business, along with some other language. (A tagline is a short description of what you … Continued

The 4 steps to create content marketing that spreads without being clickbait

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I hate clickbait. I love posts that spread. So here’s a process for creating content — like blog posts — that spreads usefully, not exploitatively. I’m writing this post because I had an argument with a client. The creative people at this company were creating valuable and interesting posts, then giving them titles that were … Continued

10 things your business book needs and how to get them

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Business book authors dream big. But the size of your dream is less important than the intellectual ingredients you bring to the project. I know the power you get from being prepared — and the sinking feeling when you realize you’re missing something crucial. If this is your dream, your first step is to assemble … Continued

10 easy New Year’s resolutions for writers in 2017

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Want to write better? Change a writing habit. Here are ten ways to be a better writer: pick one, then stick with it. (Tell me which one you picked in the comments.) 1. Stop sending first-draft emails. Most of what you write is email. While it creates the biggest impression in aggregate, you’re not spending … Continued

How “get to the point” jibes with “tell a good story”

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Storytelling is all the rage in business. Meanwhile, I’m telling you to front-load your writing — to explain just what you’re about to say in the title and first few sentences. If you take my advice, won’t that ruin your story? Not quite. In fact, following my advice is the only way you’ll get to tell your … Continued

How to use a thesaurus to name stuff creatively

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I use an online thesaurus frequently in my work. It’s certainly not because my vocabulary is limited. It’s because it shakes loose new ideas when I’m trying to name things. The cliche of the thesaurus user is the desperate paper-writer who doesn’t want to repeat the same word endlessly (for example, “war,”), even though they are … Continued