Be an editor, not a jerk

The Secret to Being a Better Editor (Plus 5 Essential Tips)

When you’re providing feedback on other people’s writing, do you ever get a nagging feeling that they’re angry or resentful? It may be because you’re being a jerk. You can’t help it. You weren’t trained to be an editor. People who hold that title in media companies and publishing houses toil for years to perfect […]

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Stop Misusing This Everyday Word!

I wrote about this issue nearly a year ago. And still, it persists. To review: Everyday means ordinary or commonly occurring while every day means each and every single day. Sly Stone assures us that in spite of his fame and lifestyle, he is simply “everyday people.” Elvis Costello, unfortunately, gets it wrong when he […]

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Cut Your Writing to the Bone: 6 Tips

Editing your own material is one of the hardest things for a writer to do. And it is a must-have skill in this attention span-challenged age. I was reminded of this as I prepare a couple of upcoming speeches. “Where can I possibly make cuts? It’s ALL gold!” Luckily, I wrote a whole book about […]

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Write in the Morning

Last week I urged people to do less quoting and more original thinking. So this is me taking my own advice. I always write best in the morning. I feel like as the day goes on we get steadily beaten down by life’s many petty annoyances and obstacles, and it limits our creativity. The morning is […]

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Frankly, One Word’s Missing from 2012’s Worst

‘Tis the season for best and worst lists, and this one, of 2012’s worst words, is pretty good. Some of these words have been bugging me since long before 2012, so I think ascribing a timeframe is a bit arbitrary. For instance, I got over “epic” since around the time Facebook was invented. And people have […]

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Revisiting Hemingway for a Lesson in Show/Don’t Tell

When I went searching for Hemingway’s fabled Two-Hearted River in 1994, there was only one paved road in all of Luce County, Michigan. My poor little Honda bounced along rutted dirt at 15 mph, with huge pickups blazing past, their drivers wondering what the hell a little white sedan was doing up in that country. […]

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Molly Ringwald On Writing

I bet that’s a headline you never thought you’d see. Ringwald has apparently written a novel, and in this New York Times piece she draws the connection between acting and writing. (Which I, obviously, find very astute. Right down to the headline: “Act Like a Writer.”) It’s a pretty thoughtful essay, and though it’s geared mainly […]

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Mamet vs. Spiderman and the Perils Of Expositional Writing

I cite David Mamet’s “master class memo on writing” so often I’ve probably worn a groove in the Internet. It’s must reading if you haven’t seen it — witty, insightful, profane … terribly punctuated. I was reminded it of it again by, of all things, a Spiderman comic. Now I don’t read the newspaper comics […]

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From Papa Hemingway to ’80s Pop: Get Specific in Your Writing

I remember reading The Sun Also Rises in high school and wondering why Hemingway insisted on taking readers on an intricate,  turn-by-turn journey through the streets of Paris, literally naming every Rue and Place and Cafe along the way. (And wouldn’t it be awesome, by the way, to have Papa’s voice on GPS, offering directions […]

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If Your Company Can’t Communicate, What Can It Do?

All corporate annual reports should come with a disclosure notice on the inside cover, detailing the amount of staff hours invested in creating the report and the number of drafts/rounds of approval it went through on its way to completion. That, more than the financial statements or the chairman’s letter or the glossy spreads inside, […]

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