Highlights from Everybody Writes

Beth Dunn went from being an unemployable writer to a writing career that speaks for itself. In her talk, “How to Be a Writing god“, she hammered down the idea; disciplined writing is the only way to improved writing. Her story, alongside the Author, Ann Handley’s simple advice, makes it clear; every professional should take writing seriously.

Most people dislike writing. Maybe it’s all that forced writing we had to do in school? It was interesting to see the book encouraging us to let go of any writing advice you received at school.

“The difference between Good writing and bad writing is trying, trying and trying again”

In this book, you will discover many valuable ideas, though one stands out for me, the writing process; a detailed set of steps that shows you the way a finished piece when all you have is an idea.

Writing process

The following steps helped me. I’ll share a quick summary with you. Follow it in order and see the results for yourself.

  1. Have a clear goal. Write this goal down as the first thing on your draft and keep it at the top. Refer back to it often as you work on the piece.
  2. Restate your goal within the context of your reader. This is the more difficult part and I’m struggling to do this, but I think with practice it may become easier.
  3. Do research. Seek out data or others who have written about the topic or anything related to your goal. This helps give your post more credibility and builds trust.
  4. Organise your findings and thoughts. I normally just create one-sentence paragraphs in a draft. Write down everything that comes up related to your topic.
  5. Remember to write to one person. People hardly ever read in groups and if they do it will be only one person reading at a time so think about writing as a conversation.
  6. Create the Ugly first draft. Write like no-one cares. Just write. Don’t even care for structure. Just take the thoughts you have and expand on them as much as you want to.
  7. Walk away, do something else, give yourself space away from the content. Create another draft for another post.
  8. Rewrite the draft. I must share with you that I don’t really do this. I write on a computer and simply manipulate the draft document.
  9. Give it a great title. One that captures the essence. One that tells the prospective reader exactly what to expect. Don’t mislead your reader, trust is more valuable than views. Most times my writing starts because of a title that frames the idea.
  10. Have someone edit it. This is mainly for commercial content. I use Grammarly to check that all is in order.
  11. Add a call to action. What do you want the reader to do next?
  12. Have a final look at it and check that it reads clearly and is easy on the eye.
  13. Publish! Don’t allow perfect to be the enemy of good enough. This is just one step in your journey, so keep publishing.

The writing process helps you on a very practical level, but when you’ve got this process down there are many other important tips for writers.

To wrap up, I’ll share some final thoughts, but for the full experience, you’ll have to read the book.

3 Critical approaches to writing

1. Writing is a service to your users. A practical example of serving would be to place the most important parts first, providing the most value upfront. This is out of respect for the reader’s time making it easy for them to understand what you want to highlight. The same applies to sentences. First, give the content and then back it up with context. Instead of “According to John, mocking others is foolishness” write ” mocking others foolishness, according to John”. Respect the reader, keep writing to the point and remove cruft that doesn’t add value.

2. Discipline – All great writers practice their own version of a writing discipline. The main take away here is to practice daily, if that’s not possible set time a side on a weekly basis.

3. Show don’t tell – Most people do not appreciate being told what to do, so the better approach would be to make suggestions and provide great real life examples. Give them the example and let them decide what to do with it.

Conclusion

I hope some of the lessons I’ve learnt are applicable to your situation and I hope it inspires you read Everybody Writes for yourself. You can find the book here: Take A lot | Amazon

Outstanding Advice from a tribe of mentors

This will be my final post covering tribe of mentors. If you are a little bit lost and not sure which direction to take you will find a lot of great advice and pointers from this book. It is a great reference book and I’d recommend it to all.

In a previous post, I wrote a quick review on the book Tribe of Mentors but I also wanted to give you some of the advice that stood out to me.

1- Personal Development and Routine

Discipline = Freedom. We are always between freedom and bondage. We move away from freedom when we lack discipline. Freedom to choose the life you want comes only by discipline. There are extreme cases where one really can’t choose, but for the average person, this is a fortunate choice to have.

To become the best you, you must work on your own weaknesses continuously.

2 – Learning

The best student wins. Make sure that you are a life long student, make sure you grow to become the best student.

All successful people read a lot. An example is Terry Cruise. He is a man of great depth who has an incredible reading list. You would think that comedians are just naturally good at telling stories that make people laugh. Now I know why some comedians make it in life: they read! See Trevor Noah’s favorite books as an example: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/11/t-magazine/entertainment/trevor-noah-favorite-books-list.html

Be in a hurry to learn, not to get validation. Embrace change and keep learning, the only way to stay relevant.

We arrive at certain destinations because of our decisions. Our choices are mostly a result of how we weighed our options. From Julia Galef’s interview, I learned that most advice is one size fits all but that the best advice helps one improve judgment.

Tom Peters stated, “The number one failings of CEOs: they don’t read enough”. I was so inspired by how much the mentors read and how many of them actually made time for reading in their schedule. Reading is absolutely critical. You can not avoid this if you desire growth. Reading is probably the most important career and life habit and is one strand that connects all the mentors. To be well prepared for all situations one must read a wide range of topics, even poetry.

3- Health.

In pursuit of success, you can’t ignore your health.  Resting is important, simply put: Uptime is as important as downtime and growth come from periods of rest.

Even if you don’t exercise you should at least make time to walk. Make it part of your life. Walk a little.

Eating healthy is critical and sugar is toxic. Avoid sugar especially soda and juice.

The important things in life must be done in parallel: relationships, health, religion, work.

4 – Success

No success came overnight. Even if that is what the media would like you to believe.

It is possible to out-prepare any competition.

To future proof yourself, focus on personal resilience and emotional intelligence.

Choose opportunities based on the people you get to work with. Skate to where the puck is going and remember persistence is greater than talent.

To reach success Tom Peters said: Become a superstar, all-pro listener, read up on it, work on it, have a mentor grade you on it.

Beware the “philosophologist”. Beware the one who has not been in the trenches. Seek wisdom from people who’ve done it, not the people who teach it.

5- People

On saying no: Have a yes list, for everything else say no.

Saying maybe, when you want to say no, is lying to yourself and others.

Say no to complaints, blame, and gossip.

Don’t underestimate languages. It is the doorway to another world.

There is so much to gain from being generous. Generosity elevates us all.

Avoid ego and embrace truth. Ego’s focus is: who is right. Truth focuses on what is right.

6 – Attitude and Personal Philosophy

Have a Gratitude Journal, write in it and read it. This gives you perspective.

Self-esteem, the reputation you have with yourself. Do not do things that erode that reputation.

Confidence is overrated and even irritating -try Courage. As you take courage and build up a track record of success, with yourself, genuine confidence grows.


Other Posts you may like:

    Comparing Software Engineering to RailRoads in the 1800’s

    An amazing (biased) talk about the rust language by one of the core contributors. Comparing accidents in the rail road industry to computer programming and memory safety.

    Getting air-breaks approved in passenger and freight trains took a long time.

    I’m starting to consider Rust as my next language to learn. The idea is growing in me as Rust allows you to write software at a much lower systems level. The other languages I know (PHP, Javascript, GO) are more targeted at web and server technologies. I have yet to write code for an embedded system.

    Have a listen to the talk. I found it very interesting and I’m sure you will too.

    The most gifted books from the tribe of mentors

    I read Tribe of Mentors, a year ago, and wrote down all the recommended books. I made notes on these books as I wanted to see if there are commonalities between the things highly successful people read. To no surprise, I found that many of the mentors recommended the same books.

    I thought it would be helpful to create a list of the top ten recommended books. This list is in order of most occurrences and according to my naive method for counting and making notes.

    Continue reading “The most gifted books from the tribe of mentors”

    5 Quotes to ponder on from Tribe Mentors

    I wrote a quick review on the book, A tribe of mentors, but wanted to go into more detail and give you some of the quotes that that really hit home for me. I chose 5 of them to share with you.

    I truly found a lot of value in this book. If you are interested, go ahead and read my quick review here and then get a copy for yourself.

    Continue reading “5 Quotes to ponder on from Tribe Mentors”

    Imposters handbook: a quick review

    A year ago I read the imposters handbook. It seemed like this book was specifically for people like me. The found himself in the same position I was in: Feeling like an imposter.

    I read this book a year ago, but it took me this long to write something about it as I was lacking the daily discipline of working on my blog probably related to the same imposter feeling.

    Continue reading “Imposters handbook: a quick review”