Say It Out Loud: How David Sedaris Makes His Writing Better With social networking tools and access to e-reader data, 21st-century authors have unlimited opportunities for feedback before a book is indelibly inked. But best-selling, award-winning humorist David Sedaris, whose new essay collection Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls will be published by Little, Brown and Company this month, prefers a more low-tech approach. He tests pre-publication material by regularly reading works in progress to live audiences, a practice that has become an integral part of his writing process. Sedaris got his first taste of reading to an audience in college. He was later discovered by This American Life radio producer Ira Glass while reading his work in a Chicago club and has since read to sold-out audiences at Carnegie Hall and across the country as well as live on the Late Show with David Letterman. Catching Mistakes “I used to hate it when a book came out or a story was published and I would be like ‘damn, how did I not catch that?’ Sound Check
Perfection kills progress Thought Leadership Comes From Experience “Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. I’m your captain. I’ve never flown one of these things before, but I’m really excited to be here. Make sure your seatbelts are buckled, and let’s see if I can get us to New York safely.” Article Highlights: It's a mistake to expect junior-level employees to share experiences they don't have to build thought leadership. How would you feel if you heard these words while you were sitting on the tarmac, waiting for takeoff? Ironically, that’s how many content marketing efforts begin. Although it was a nice sentiment, and I appreciated her enthusiasm, it would be interesting to know how many readers were lost that day. I’m not suggesting she should have pretended she knew the industry or had experience; her readers would have eventually discovered that she didn’t. My first real exposure to social media was a few years ago when our CEO approached the marketing department and said something like, “I’ve set up a Facebook account/page for our company.
25 Things Every Writer Should Know An alternate title for this post might be, “Things I Think About Writing,” which is to say, these are random snidbits (snippets + tidbits) of beliefs I hold about what it takes to be a writer. I hesitate to say that any of this is exactly Zen (oh how often we as a culture misuse the term “Zen” — like, “Whoa, that tapestry is so cool, it’s really Zen“), but it certainly favors a sharper, shorter style than the blathering wordsplosions I tend to rely on in my day-to-day writing posts. Anyway. Feel free to disagree with any of these; these are not immutable laws. Buckle up. 1. The Internet is 55% porn, and 45% writers. 2. A lot of writers try to skip over the basics and leap fully-formed out of their own head-wombs. 3. Some writers do what they do and are who they are because they were born with some magical storytelling gland that they can flex like their pubococcygeus, ejaculating brilliant storytelling and powerful linguistic voodoo with but a twitch of their taint. 4. 5. Luck matters.
Call yourself an asshole - Straight shooter David Paul Morris/Getty Images Everyone "knows" Steve Jobs, or thinks they do, in the sense that we saw him do those legendary on-stage product launches of the iPhone and the iPad. But what was Jobs like when he was off stage, when he wasn't changing history with Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Jony Ive and Tim Cook? There's an amazing thread on Quora, the question-and-answer site, for people to tell stories of the times they "randomly" met Steve Jobs. We've edited a few — there are many more on the thread, go look! This person told Jobs he would "ruin" Apple. Michell Smith tells this story: Prior to his return to Apple, it was obvious that the company was in trouble. I wrote an impassioned email to Steve at Pixar, pleading with him to find something else to do with his time. … And then he wrote the words I'll never forget: "You may be right. Mike Nudelman/Business Insider A childhood friend of Jobs pretended he didn't recognize him. He showed up, recognized me and called me over. ... Me: "Hello?"
William Zinsser, Author of ‘On Writing Well,’ at His Work In newsrooms, publishing houses and wherever the labor centers on honing sentences and paragraphs, you are almost certain to find among the reference works a classic guide to nonfiction writing called “On Writing Well,” by Mr. Zinsser. Sometimes all you have to say is: Hand me the Zinsser. “Clutter is the disease of American writing,” he declared in one passage that tends to haunt anyone daring to write about Mr. The book, first published in 1976, grew out of a writing course that Mr. So he listens. “People read with their ears, whether they know it or not,” Mr. Sitting at his table is Gretchen Dykstra, a woman of vast experience as a teacher and public servant. Not long ago North Dakota Quarterly published an essay by Ms. “It reads like a textbook,” he tells Ms. He suggests that Ms. Mr. Lunchtime arrives. “I’ve got ham and cheese, turkey and cranberry, and roast beef,” Ms. Ham and cheese it is. This may be because Mr. “I’m eager to hear from you. Mr. This is what Ms. Mr.
How to write a novel* Ever wanted to write a novel but had no clue how? Having just finished my fifth novel, I am now ready to pass on my accummulated novel-writing wisdom to those what have never writ one but wants to. Here is the complete, full and unexpurgated guide: First of all you need a computer. (Yeah, yeah, I know in the olden days they made do with quill, ink and paper, and typewriters—aargh! don’t get me started on how creepy and scary typewriters are—plus, whatever, this is not the olden days.) On that computer you need a word processing program. If you want to write your novel relatively quickly and productively, it should have no access to the interweb thingy, also no games, or anything other than the two aforementioned programs. Do not spend a lot of time on this. Sometimes working titles wind up being the actual title (Snakes on a Plane, anyone? Make sure you make it a bigger and fancier font than your novel proper, underline it, too. Do you just start the novel or do you outline? To sum up:
Plain Language - Clear Communication: An NIH Health Literacy Initiative Introduction to Plain Language at NIH Plain language is grammatically correct language that includes complete sentence structure and accurate word usage. Plain language is not unprofessional writing or a method of "dumbing down" or "talking down" to the reader. Writing that is clear and to the point helps improve communication and takes less time to read and understand. Plain Language Act President Barack Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (H.R. 946/Public Law 111-274) on October 13, 2010. Part of the NIH mission is to reach all Americans with health information they can use and to communicate in a way that helps people to easily understand research results. Celebrating Plain Language at NIH Health literacy incorporates a range of abilities: reading, comprehending, and analyzing information; decoding instructions, symbols, charts, and diagrams; weighing risks and benefits; and, ultimately, making decisions and taking action. Plain Language/Clear Communications Awards Program 1. 3.
6 traits of great writing—according to a fourth-grade teacher I’ve written severalposts about my 10-year-old son and his developing writing skills. And though he may not share my alacrity for writing, his school curriculum is full of great writing advice. Recently, he came home with a handout called “Six traits of great writing.” Here are the traits along with a few takeaways. Ideas and content • Observe first; tell next. • Develop supporting details before you start writing. • Use a balance of showing and telling. • Make your message clear to the reader. Organization • Link ideas together so there is a beginning, middle, and end. • Use a variety of transitional words Word choice • Use clear, colorful, vivid verbs. • Use “thoughtful” adjectives Sentence fluency • Sentences should mostly begin with different words. • Use smooth transitions and sentence variation. • Use a mixture of simple and complex sentences. • Sentences should flow when read aloud. Voice Conventions • If you can’t spell a word, look it up. (Image via)
60 Awesome Search Engines for Serious Writers June 20th, 2010 Finding the information you need as a writer shouldn’t be a chore. Luckily, there are plenty of search engines out there that are designed to help you at any stage of the process, from coming up with great ideas to finding a publisher to get your work into print. Both writers still in college and those on their way to professional success will appreciate this list of useful search applications that are great from making writing a little easier and more efficient. Professional Find other writers, publishers and ways to market your work through these searchable databases and search engines. Writing These helpful tools will help you along in the writing process. Research Try out these tools to get your writing research done in a snap. Google Scholar: With this specialized search engine from Google, you’ll only get reliable, academic results for your searches.WorldCat: If you need a book from the library, try out this tool. Reference Need to look up a quote or a fact? Niche Writers
The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do. Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about. Procrastination is an alluring siren taunting you to google the country where Balki from Perfect Strangers was from, and to arrange sticky notes on your dog in the shape of hilarious dog shorts. The blank white page. Mark Twain once said, “Show, don’t tell.” Finding a really good muse these days isn’t easy, so plan on going through quite a few before landing on a winner. There are two things more difficult than writing. It’s no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t read, your writing will often suffer.
4 Guidelines For Improving Your Marketing About every four-to-six months our company goes through the cathartic process of reviewing our marketing performance. Like many companies, we use a variety of marketing techniques, platforms, and processes for generating leads that bring in new customers. Our results have improved considerably over time as we've changed and implemented new strategies, but, like most companies, we still want to get better. Our review process follows some regular patterns: We start with what the goal was and work our way backWe use metrics to determine what worked and what didn'tWe break down our platform performance and campaign performance separately and in an integrated fashion These are just a few of the patterns, but you get the idea. Here are the guidelines we try to follow to maximize the value of the review process: 1. 2. 3. 4. This process is hard on our company because as we often say: "Facts are our friends, even if they aren't friendly." Marketing reviews are crucial to managing your business.