Why your document is a terrible mess

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Here’s what went wrong. You started with a good idea. Then you showed it to someone. She told you it needed something more. So you added it. You sent it out for review. Your reviewers all suggested adding and changing things. They’re important and powerful people, so you did. The technical people insisted you include … Continued

Four steps that enable you to write in flow

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I remember editing people at my last job. I would give them the charge on what to do, and then check back two days later. “How much did you write?” I would ask. “One paragraph,” they’d say. You will never achieve flow that way! Flow is effortless writing. You know how it feels. You sit … Continued

The frou-frou cuteness of the New York Times style section

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The New York Times traffics in clear, straightforward text. Except, that is, in the Sunday Style section. Having no style myself, I’d typically skip the Style section, but an article by Penelope Green on birds sucked me in yesterday. I like birds. I read it. I’m still dizzy. If you like metaphors, you’ll love the … Continued

Christopher Penn vividly makes clear the varied architecture of political influence

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I’m grateful to Christopher Penn, cofounder of BrainTrust Insights, for his analysis of link and influence on both sides of the political spectrum. Yesterday, he posted some incredible graphical visualizations. Here’s how describes what he did: Using Facebook’s API and its Crowdtangle journalism tool, we extracted 6 months of data from approximately 250 conservative and … Continued

Come at me, bro — what’s fair game on this blog

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This is not a politics blog, but politics is part of my subject matter. So here’s what I hope is a very clear statement of my principles. I write about anything associated with writing quality, analytical thinking, truth, and influence. These are “meta-analyses.” I’m generally writing about how people think and communicate, not whether those … Continued

The outrageous photo of a suffering child

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Have you seen this photo? What an outrage. Trump’s Border Patrol is separating families at the border and putting children in cages. I’ve seen this photo all over my Facebook feed, on posts filled with rage. But there’s a problem. This photo is not what people think it is. According to snopes.com, this photo is … Continued

At Apple, the customer comes third.

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The most important thing to Apple is the product. After that comes employee efficiency. Customers? They’re in third place. Here’s how I learned that: Yesterday I finally brought my iPhone with its failing battery into the Apple Store in Burlington, Massachusetts. When I showed up, the bright and happy Apple guy in the front of … Continued

Why I love the first workday after a vacation

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I’ve been on vacation for two weeks. I’m writing this at 6 a.m. on my first day back. I’m eager to get started. The page proofs for a book I’m working on have come back. I’m eager to review them, so we can turn this manuscript into an actual book. This is where my knowledge … Continued