How To Write a Second Draft

in Writing Well

As I’ve been working on The Year Without Pants, I wrote recently about how to revise a first draft, including what I call The Big Read: where you sit down and read through the entire (first) draft in as few sittings as possible. The result of that big read is a manuscript that looks something […]

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Book Review: Good Prose – The Art of Non Fiction

in Book reviews, Writing Well

I gave a talk at WordCamp Seattle recently about writing. One point I made was the limitations for improving writing skills merely by listening or reading. For the same reasons reading about playing guitar or juggling knives is insufficient to learn how to be a great guitar player or fully limbed knife juggler, mere reading […]

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How Pulp Fiction was written (and rejected)

in Writing Well

From Cinephillia and Beyond, this comment from Roger Avary, who co-wrote Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction with Tarantino: We just took all the best scenes we had ever written, and we packed them up, and we went to Amsterdam. Quentin rented this apartment, and we laid them out on the floor and basically just started moving them […]

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Blog Community Panel: Summary (WordCamp Seattle)

in Writing Well

Thanks to everyone who attended our panel session at WordCamp Seattle, and to our panelists: Ariel M Stallings, from Offbeatempire.com, a niche lifestyle publisher, covering weddings, parenting, and home decor Steve Roy, from Disqus.com Michael Cyger, from isixsigma.com a B2B website that provides research and how-to knowledge for businesses (who took this photo) It’s hard to capture the vibrancy […]

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How to design a great book cover (Behind the scenes)

in Books, Mindfire, Writing Well

The 1.1 edition of Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds, a collection of my best essays, was officially released.  Here’s a behind the scenes story on how the cover was designed. After vetting more than 30 designers who applied, I hired Tim Kordik. And I’m glad I did. I wanted not just a graphic designer, […]

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Two ways to write: with your gut or with your head

in Writing Well

An amazing comment from Charley Daveler on my post How to Write a Book: You can tackle a book in two ways: with your gut or with your head. Most authors flip flop back and forth constantly, though they tend to favor one over the other. If you want to write with your gut, i.e. […]

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The Redemption of Jonah Lehrer?

in Writing Well

Twitter is aflutter today with talk of Jonah Lehrer, the (in)famous young author caught fabricating quotes, about his recent talk at the Knight Foundation where he was reportedly paid $20k to speak.  I can’t tell if it’s the price tag of his speaking engagement, or the fact he was given such a high profile forum to […]

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How to revise a first draft (update on the next book)

in Writing Well

The only faith a writer needs to have is in the next draft. The quality of any draft doesn’t matter much provided its not your last draft.  The goal of any effort in writing is to work hard now to provide the future version something better to work with. Each draft is a gift to […]

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Damp garbage and the writing process

in Writing Well

John Steinbeck, in Writers at Work, recounts a fictional dialog with a publisher, illustrating the gauntlet of publishing a book. His tale is cranky and entertaining, and I’m sure some authors can relate: The book does not go from writer to reader. It goes first to the lions – editors, publishers, critics, copy readers, sales department. […]

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How to write a good bio

in General, Speaking, Writing Well

Many good people write bad bios for themselves. Anyone asking you for a bio, or reading it, wants you to sound awesome, but what they need and what your ego wants to say are often different things. With these five simple rules you can write a good bio for yourself in less time, with less […]

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How to get from an idea to a book

in General, Writing Well

I’m sure you have an amazing idea for a book. I’m proud of you. Now please put that idea aside and pay attention: Pick up any book Flip through its pages It took hundreds of hours to make that book (e.g. 10 hours x 50 weeks = 500 hours) The big question: Do you love your […]

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Quote of the month: Steinbeck on writing

in quote of the x, Writing Well

Steinbeck on writing: Writing is a very silly business at best. There is a certain ridiculousness about putting down a picture of life. And to add to the joke – one must withdraw for a time from life in order to set down that picture. And third one must distort one’s own way of life […]

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Steinbeck’s advice on getting started

in Writing Well

When I’m supposed to be writing but don’t quite have the nerve, I read. I have a special stack of books of interviews with famous writers about writing, and I read them and take notes when all else fails. I often type up those notes as a way to get the fingers moving, and soon […]

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The truth about choosing book titles

in rant, Writing Well

As I’m getting fan opinions on title ideas for my next book, I’m reminded of the thrills and pains of picking book titles. #1: Advice is cheap, titles are hard Everyone is very happy to tell you how to pick a title, and in particular, that you are doing it wrong. A special joy comes […]

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Extreme Makeover: Bad Marketing Email

in Writing Well

In response to my claim Jargon Feeds on Lazy Minds, my friend Kav sent me one of the worst marketing emails he’s seen. Rather than complain, I thought why not try and fix it EXTREME makeover style. Here’s a brief critique followed by a press release makeover. First, here’s the message – half way between a […]

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How to find your voice

in Creative Thinking, Writing Well

You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself – Miles Davis There is a paradox you must accept if you want to find your voice: it takes work. This is counterintuitive because all of the great voices we admire, whether we find them in reading John Updike or Ray Bradbury, or […]

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How to make a good book from a blog

in Writing Well

RR from the Reluctant Runner blog read my post on how to turn a blog into a book and asked: Over the past two years I have written a light-hearted fitness blog specific to running. I am going to start turning it into a book. I am beginning the process of going back through my […]

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Researching and writing the next book

in Writing Well, Year Without Pants

As mentioned before, the next book is about my experience working at WordPress.com. Something I do while working on the first draft of a book is read books that have elements I want to emulate. It could be structure, style, tone or simply a feeling the book gave me as a reader. I go back […]

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Lessons learned from my bad habits

in Writing Well

Since leaving WordPress.com to return to writing full time, a surprise has been the decline in my writing habits. It has taken taken months to get them back. As an exercise in sharing what I learn with you here on the blog, here’s my recap: Writing of any kind is harder than other work. A […]

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