Today, I unveil the plan for my book. I’ll be pitching it to publishers soon. Here’s the title, subtitle, and table of contents. I took a shot at the flap copy, too. I’m avidly interested in your reaction. (I wrote the title, subtitle, and flap copy as they would appear on the book. I enhanced the table of contents with narrative content as it would appear in a book proposal.)
Writing Without Bullshit
How to make a powerful impression every time you communicate
Your day is filled with bullshit. Unfiltered, unedited crap floods your inbox and fills the Web — you need hip waders just to get through your day. I’m talking corporate doubletalk, lazy media, and all those random, unfocused communications from your fellow workers that just plain waste your time.
This is an opportunity, and you must seize it.
Writing Without Bullshit will teach you everything you need to stand out from the crap out there. Clear, powerful writing is within your grasp. I’ll show you how to do it.
I’ll reveal why most of what flashes past your eyes every day is crap, and how we got into this situation. I’ll show you how to cure the fatigue that lulls you into writing in the same dull and fearful way as everybody else. And I’ll explain the tricks you can use to become a bold and effective writer who stands apart from this background of blather — a writer who gets results. Whether it’s an email to your colleagues, a blog post for your small business, or a report for your company, you need these tools.
You’ll learn how to rip out the jargon and replace it with plain, provocative language. You’ll get the detail behind my ten top writing tips that hundreds of thousands have shared online, from busting pusillanimous passives to crafting first sentences that get people to sit up and take notice. You’ll master the brutal but necessary art of editing yourself. And I’ll show you how to write boldly even when you are afraid.
I know what I’m talking about. For three decades I’ve been developing powerful ideas and writing bold content that motivates readers to action. I’ve taught hundreds of bright thinkers how make their writing stand out. I’d like to do the same for you.
Let’s show the bullshitters we get things done.
Table of Contents
1. Why writing without bullshit matters
I hate bullshit, because it destroys our ability to get things done. It pollutes our world with meaningless drivel, interferes with clear communication, and leaves everyone depressed. But it’s curable. It’s a matter of attitude, process, and skill. To master these, you must understand why bullshit happens and how we all became immersed in it.
- Why I hate bullshit
- How word pollution kills productivity, energy, and trust
- Sturgeon’s Law: Why 90% of everything is crap
- Why there is so much more bullshit now
- Everything you learned about writing was wrong
- The iron imperative: do not waste the reader’s time
- How writing without bullshit helps your career
2. How to write without bullshit
There are plenty of folks happy to tell you how to write better, just as any doctor will tell you to “eat right and exercise.” But changing your writing (or eating) habits only happens when you understand why you do what you do. I can help you with that. And I can tell you the key things you need to work on to make your writing clear, direct, and powerful.
- The psychology of writing: why you write bullshit
- How to write boldly when you are afraid
- You had me at “hello”: titles, leads, and summaries
- Eliminate the most pernicious habit: passive voice
- Avoid the trap of weasel words
- Root out jargon: the native language of the bullshitter
- Write shorter: the brutal art of editing yourself
- Shorter sentences make happier readers
- How to tell the truth with statistics
- The power of simple pronouns: “I,” “we,” and “you”
- Leave the hype for the hucksters
3. Change the way you write
Now that you know what you’re supposed to do, can you actually write this way? Not if you stick with your old habits and processes. You’re going need to think differently about generating ideas, defining the stages in your writing, and especially, about editing.
- Give yourself permission to be creative
- The systematic approach to idea development
- Finding writing flow on purpose
- The four questions to ask before writing anything: readers, objectives, action, impression
- Collaborating without tears
- The essential value of editors
4. Apply “without bullshit” principles to your everyday work
Every day you are a reader, and most days you are a writer. The principles of writing without bullshit apply to everything you type, from emails and blog posts to press releases and reports. Here’s how to write without bullshit every day.
- Recognizing bullshit in what you read
- Business emails that get stuff done
- Marketing emails that generate sales
- Blog posts, Facebook posts, and tweets that make you look smart
- Web copy that makes people want to work with you
- Press releases that escape the ordinary
- Reports that captivate readers and make people smarter
5. A world without bullshit
Now that you know what bullshit is and how to avoid it, you can stand out. Your writing will be better, and people will think of you differently. You’ll be known as a bold thinker and a person who commands powerful ideas. Here’s how to create that change with your writing.
- How to spread the “without bullshit” message to your colleagues, your department, and your company
- How writing without bullshit could change the world.
So, would you buy it? What needs to be different, or better, to make this as strong as possible? I’d love to hear from you.
Photo: Ray Bernoff