The hour-long meeting was becoming a slog. Forty-five minutes of doubt and negative thinking. FUD City. Population 7.
And then something magical happened. Someone who’d been silent the entire meeting said, if memory serves, “Maybe no one wants to hear this, and I’m being an annoying optimist, but I love this work. I believe in it. I think it can be great.”
It instantly transformed the energy of the meeting. And judging from the smiles and suddenly relaxed shoulders of the other participants, it transformed the individual psyches of everyone involved.
It was a course correction. …
I’ve stumbled upon an approach to taking handwritten meeting notes that has surpisingly transformed my work life over the last couple months.
First, the strategy. Then the idea.
The strategy is basically this:
Over the weekend, I walked into my living room to see my kids bored to the point of physical incapacitation. They were strung out across the sofa, apparently crushed by the weight of, I don’t know, having all of their basic needs met. Their sighs were deafening.
For kids their ages, five and nine, boredom is an existential crisis. So I proposed an existential solution.
“Pretend this is the first time you’ve ever been to this house,” I told them. “This is an AirBnb now, and you just walked in the door. …
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…