A tip for writers: how I maximize productivity with 3 monitors

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When people find out I work with three monitors, they’re always curious. Here’s how that works for me and why I think it makes me a more productive writer and editor. The three-monitor setup First, the basics. I have a brand new MacBook Pro 16-inch, replacing one that I had used since 2013. (None of … Continued

Nuggets, or how to not write a piece that’s a boring lecture

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A lecture is you standing up and droning on about what you think, based on your voluminous experience. It’s boring in person, and it’s a deadly way to write. In today’s short-attention-span world, a lecture is a good way to get people to click away from the post, stop reading the book, and give up … Continued

Nonfiction writing: It’s narratives all the way down.

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Nonfiction writing is made of stories. All of it. Advice. Logical reasoning. Analysis. It’s all stories. And if you don’t understand what a narrative is, no one will read what you write, and no one will be able to benefit from it. I’m editing a nonfiction manuscript right now in which the parts aren’t written … Continued

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

The em dash is a bit of a jerk — replace it whenever possible

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Unless — and I admit this is possible — you’re trying to annoy the reader, try not to fall in love — or even in like — with the em dash. So many manuscripts I edit suffer from inflammation of the em dash — it’s rampant — as if these little buggers multiply like cockroaches. … Continued

Book tips: How many drafts should I write?

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A fellow nonfiction author recently shared that he’d written 18 drafts of his book. That’s probably too many. But how many is the right number? I’ll answer that question, but first, let’s talk about what a draft is. You have a chapter written. You go through and make a change. You save it under a … Continued

Writing, washing dishes, flow, and pleasure

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I have a confession to make. I really enjoy doing the dishes. (And yes, this has something to do with writing advice.) At my house, it is my wife’s job to cook and my job to do the dishes. This is good, because she is an excellent cook and I am terrible. She could do … Continued