When to break my writing rules

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My most popular post ever included ten writing tips and the psychology behind them. On social media, I see people reading these tips with no context and objecting. “Passive voice is perfectly fine,” they say, or, “You wouldn’t get very far if you only used short sentences.” You want to break my rules? I’m here … Continued

13 tips for thriving as an author within a company

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When you write a book about ideas, it reflects well on both you and your company. Or at least it ought to. As with all corporate politics, the devil is in the details. I learned much of what you’re about to read while coauthoring three books and editing two others at Forrester Research. Since leaving, … Continued

How to deal with infuriating editors

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Here’s the five-step plan for what to do when you get a piece of writing back with infuriating comments: Read comments and suggestions from editor. Get annoyed that editor is finding fault and making stupid suggestions on how to change perfectly good prose. Figure out what problem set the editor off. Rewrite to fix the … Continued

Collaborating on a book is a terrible idea. But if you must, be asymmetrical.

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Writing a book is hard enough. Adding another person makes it twice as hard. Collaboration only makes sense if it’s asymmetrical — if you have complementary skills and different jobs. I’ve written three books with coauthors, edited a few more, and am currently ghostwriting parts of books with other authors. Coauthoring sounds like it’s going … Continued

How to write a good book quickly: 12 simple rules

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Can you write a good book in two or three months? Maybe. But it takes planning and discipline. I’ve done it, and so have other authors I know. Many of us feel that we created our best work quickly. I wrote most of Groundswell in 11 weeks and Writing Without Bullshit in three months, and both are buttoned-down, … Continued

Case study tip: the quickie character sketch

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It’s easy to forget that businesses are made of people. When you write a case study for a business book, blog post, or article, readers need to see those people as human. Here’s how to do that quickly without getting in the way of the story you’re telling. People in business prose need to be … Continued

7 collaboration tools and tips that make book writing go smoothly

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Collaborating on a book is hard. Deadlines make it harder. The key is to develop a disciplined process and stick with it. To help you get to the end without tears, I’ll share some battle-tested collaboration tools and tips that will keep you focused on content excellence, not process glitches. (You’ll see where the bear … Continued