“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will belong to anybody else, these pages must show.”
Charles Dickens, Opening line of David Copperfield
Thank you to Liz Gilbert for posting this on Facebook yesterday. 🙂
13 Writing Rules
Got this awesome bookmark in the mail today — as a result of pre-ordering Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide To Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley.
Ann is one of my modern writing heroes. When her first book (co-authored by CC Chapman), Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business came out, I could NOT get my hands on it fast enough.
Ann is smart, successful, vulnerable (in her writing and onstage), and, perhaps most importantly, she has a wonderful sense of humor. She’s also kind. She “talks” with me on Twitter even though she doesn’t know me.
This bookmark lays out Ann’s 13 Writing Rules. You can read all of them on her blog.
All ring true.
My favorite is #12:
You can’t rush art” is folly. You do have to rush your art. Otherwise, that art sits on its butt on the couch watching Netflix.
Followed closely by #13:
Deadlines are the WD-40 of writing.
I’m not sure how Ann managed to capture my relationships with Netflix and deadlines so accurately.
These two rules reinforce the absolute truth that we must manage ourselves and be disciplined when it comes to writing for our businesses.
They also more subtly remind us to treat ourselves with compassion while doing so.
- Let’s allow ourselves to publish when our work is “good enough.”
- Let’s relentlessly prioritize and defer Netflix until our writing for the day is done (it’s not even that hard if we’re clear on our goals and WHY we’re writing).
- Let’s celebrate coming through for ourselves and our livelihoods every time we publish.
I’ll let you know how Everybody Writes is when I get my copy in my hot little hands.
This article, “Bad Managers Talk, Good Managers Write,” made me smile more widely than anything I’ve read recently on the subject of writing.
The three quotes below from the article demonstrate what I’ve believed for a long time.
- Writing is so much more than a skill set.
- It’s a mindset.
- Writing is so much more than communication.
- It’s clear thinking.
Well, good writing is anyway.
Reports are more a medium of self-discipline than a way to communicate information.
Andy Grove, Intel
There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Many people can pretend to be something they’re not in person, but very few people can do so in writing.
Phil Libin, Evernote
There’s a lot more to this. I’m going to let it marinate for now.
In my TED-style talk, How Great Stories Inspire Action, I define your story as a Body of Evidence you’ve been building your whole life. How when you are inside of an inciting moment, where you realize you need to change, you can get inspiration from places other than your own story (since you may not have yet built a body of evidence to show you can do whatever it is the change you’re making requires you to do). You can get evidence from stories of other people’s lives, from inspirational talks, and from fiction.
Fiction has played a role in my life that is so huge it’s hard to describe in words. As recently as today, I’ve been as moved by a well written piece of fiction as I have by the people in my life. That is saying A LOT.
Part of what I intend to do on this blog is explore more of what I mean by the power of fiction. It’s something I need to take my time with, so the posts are relevant for you. It’s also something I believe needs to be out there, with my view point stamped on it — since I believe what we write in business is derived from and influenced by what we’re drawn to.
I’m fanatically drawn to well written fiction. So much of how I express myself is influenced by it. That point was driven home for me again just today, when my favorite movie in the world was on TV. Just a few frames of it and I was in a totally different (better) space.