As vaccination rates increase, we’re getting closer to a future where masks are less of a presence in our lives, and our smiles (and non-smiles) will once again be visible to friends, co-workers, and the strangers we pass on the sidewalk and in the grocery store.
If that sentence didn’t make you smile, please keep reading.
Until I looked into smiling while researching my book Works Well With Others, I didn’t realize how powerful a force it is. The simple act of smiling can change you and everyone around you, and that’s true now more than ever. A smile —…
I like “shopping” for books in my own home by walking over to my bookshelf and pretending I’m in a used bookstore where every book costs zero dollars. It helps that I have terrible book memory, which means that every book feels new to me. (“Which one was Moby Dick again? The whale or the guy?”)
The other night, I went shopping with a purpose: I was looking specifically for books about writing. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of “writing through” the time we’re in, and I’ve been writing a lot more. I grabbed Bird by…
When I can’t quite figure out how to start a piece of writing—from a Medium post to a feature story to an important email to a set of presentation notes— I write my way into it. Somewhere around paragraph two or three or four, I’ll usually find the path, the pacing, the way forward.
Then, I read over the draft, and I almost always delete that first 50 or 200 or 300 or 500 words. I consider that section the sacrificial intro.
As an editor, I often ask writers to cut their first few paragraphs, because they frequently seem, well…
It would probably surprise a lot of my current colleagues to learn, but I once worked “in fashion.”
I loved this part of my magazine job precisely because I’ve never been all that interested in how to dress. As a story editor, I could look at the subject unburdened by, well, a refined sense of style — a beneficial quality because my job was to take the fashion department’s ideas and present them in a way that made sense to any reader, regardless of their sartorial predilections.
When you come at fashion that way, you’re able to see it for…
“What‘s your favorite writing tool?”
When Creator’s Hub, Medium’s official blog for creators, posed that question I thought, Do I have any digital writing tools? Besides a computer? Any apps? Extensions? Anything beyond Google Docs or the Medium editor? After staring at my screen for a few minutes, I realized the writing tools I value are very much supporting players (and very much analog players) but are very important to my process.
So much of writing is not writing. It’s preparing to write. It’s about getting comfortable — with your space and/or your subject. It’s the research and thinking you…
I am a firm believer in the altruistic tool — the object you always have handy for other people as much as for you. I once wrote about the impeccably clean hanky. This time, it’s the folding pocket knife. Next time, I’m thinking it will be the wallet Band-Aid.
Whenever I pull my Benchmade 940 pocket knife from my right front pocket, my kids roll their eyes and say, “We know, we know: Always carry a knife.” …
One of my favorite Medium functionalities is the Highlights tool. It allows the reader to “like” a sentence or passage, of course, but more importantly to me, as both reader and editor, it encourages all of us to write in a more quotable way.
Ensuring your writing includes quotable lines will improve anything you write— a Medium story, a short presentation, a big speech, an important email, the third chapter of your book, anything—and it will make your writing more accessible and engaging to the reader. Here’s how to pull it off.
Writing for quotability has always felt a little…
I haven’t seen my mom in person since October 2019. My family is in New York. She’s in Texas.
She works retail down there. Children’s clothing store. They were closed last April and May, but the corporate office reopened stores in early summer with strict protocols on mask-wearing and cleaning. She tells me not one customer has walked in without wearing a mask. “Everyone has been so respectful.”
She’s in her early seventies. “Ross, you know I love to work,” she says.
She hasn’t been vaccinated yet, but she’s registered, and she’s just waiting for a date. She tells me…
Most workers intuitively get the concept of professional idea management (or PIM, as no one refers to it). We know not to unleash all of our brilliance in one supreme moment during a meeting.
“Instead of parallel-pathing it, let’s perpendicular-path it! And add additional customer support. And Jayden should manage all of it… and be given a title change and modest increase in salary!”
And we know not to keep everything to ourselves.
“Jayden, I’ll let you take this one.”
And we know timing is important: We try to wait for the right moment to make an assertion.
Turns out an insurrection is a great motivator. After burning out on news about the attempt to disrupt the electoral vote count on January 6, I began using almost all of my free time to read books—specifically, books that could help me understand the vulnerability of America’s institutions.
One of those books provided me with a line that I’ve repeated dozens of times to other people, to myself, to my five-year-old daughter when she looks particularly irritated:
The answers you’re looking for in books.