Resources that solve a problem, offer new insights, or tickle your gray matter.
"Writing nonfiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing."
~ Joan Didion, in an interview for The Paris Review
As discussed in the introduction to this series on becoming a more effective self-editor, writing and editing are two distinct processes. You will be a better and faster writer if you treat them as such. Similarly, editing has two phases: the developmental edit and the substantive edit.
“Writing offers us one of the rare chances in life at a do-over: to get it right and say what we meant this time. To the extent writers are able to appear any smarter or wittier than readers, it’s only because they’ve cheated by taking so much time to think up what they meant to say and refining it over days or weeks or, yes, even years, until they’ve said it as clearly and elegantly as they can.”
~ Tim Kreider, Essayist and Cartoonist
Good writing is the product of good editing. Working with a good editor is incredibly satisfying. A good editor takes your words and turns them into vehicles that convey your thoughts and ideas. A good editor takes what is clear to you and makes it clear and compelling to the reader. Here’s how you can capture some of that magic and become a better self-editor.
"I love thinking. I love coming up with great ideas. I just get excited. Sometimes if I get a big idea, I'm just like a kid, like I've found a new toy."
~ Dolly Parton, as quoted in Southern Living
To write for high-visibility publications, you must consistently identify, develop, and share insightful ideas with the publication’s readers. For many, the process of presenting new ideas month after month after month feels daunting. As someone steeped in your work, you understand the challenges and solutions within your area of expertise. That clarity and depth of understanding might lead you to underestimate the value of your knowledge, experience, and insights.
"Write about what you know, in an area where your expertise is uncontested."
~ Trish Hall, Writing to Persuade
Responding to a trending story can be satisfying, especially when the issue at hand is important to you. But it can also backfire. Those who disagree with you may push back on what you have to say or question your authority, credibility, and integrity. Others may simply stop paying attention to you because they no longer believe your values align with theirs. That can be a good thing, so long as your response to the trending story is thoughtful and deliberate. Before you respond to a trending story, ask yourself these seven questions:
"Rush action and having a 'hot take' are the coin of the realm now, not methodical deliberation and rational consideration."
~ Vahe Gregorian, Columnist, The Kansas City Star
When a story starts trending, a video goes viral, or an event takes over the news cycle, sharing your thoughts on the matter can be tempting. In some cases, speaking up in support or opposition to an issue that is important to you is part of how you stay in alignment with your core values. In other instances, you may speak up to increase your visibility and demonstrate your expertise.
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