Grammar and usage

10 Confusing Word Pairs Everybody Gets Wrong

If you’ve been waiting with bated (or baited) breath for my next post on confusing word pairs, today is your day! It was almost three years ago that I first set out to make the world a better place by ending once and for all the misuse of “jibe” and “jive” and “hone” and “home,” among others. […]

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Self-publishing lessons

7 Surprising Self-Publishing Lessons

My book, 11 Deadly Presentation Sins, is officially one-year-old this Saturday. Like any toddler, it’s caused me more than a few sleepless nights. And, like parenthood, no matter how much you prepare, the process is still full of surprises. Even when you’ve done it before. But this book was different, since I decided to publish […]

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Writer's process

Writer’s Process? Real Writers Write Anytime, Anywhere

Oh, the storied “writer’s process.” Writers, like actors, often bring elaborate ritual and routine to their craft. We may favor a certain time of day or a specific location or require accompaniments like coffee or tea or music or silence. Everything has to be “just so” in order for the creativity to flow. But in the […]

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Dead or Not, Email Makes You a Better Writer and Thinker

E-mail is a sinkhole where knowledge goes to die. People have been predicting the death of (and perhaps by) email for years, and the debate on the issue continues. I find email indispensable—at least in my professional life—and I was fascinated by this story on the clash between college students and professors. It’s rich with killer […]

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Writing Process

Does the First Draft of Your Writing Have to be Bad?

I must be a bad writer, because very often my first drafts are pretty good. And pretty close to what the final product ultimately looks like. Maybe my standards are low. Maybe I’m not the writer I think I am. Maybe I’m not a very good editor. Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything […]

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To Improve Your Writing, Stand Outside of It: 7 Tips

Sometimes the best way to improve your writing is to stop editing and tackle it from a completely different perspective. The Limits of Editing and Revising When I wrote my first book, I figured that after almost a year of revising and editing, I pretty much had it nailed. Then I went on to write […]

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Grammar Peeves

Grammar Friday: Lead or Led?

I don’t always post about grammar and usage. But when I do … it’s fascinating. This is one of my latest peeves. And it’s more than just a nitpick. When people spell the past tense of the verb lead as lead it really trips up my reading. And while we’re at it, the past tense […]

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Joss Whedon’s Writing Process: Make It Fun

I haven’t seen much of Joss Whedon’s work, but there’s no question he’s a prolific writer and creator, so I loved these tips of his on the writing process. Make Writing Fun For me, the big theme here is the idea of making the work of writing fun. For instance, he rewards himself — not just […]

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5 Lessons from The Great Gatsby School of Writing

If you should ever fall out of love with writing, read a little F. Scott Fitzgerald. That will surely rekindle the flames. I’ve been reading The Great Gatsby in preparation for this week’s film premiere. There’s nothing like re-reading a book you loved in high school or college — a decade or two of real-world […]

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To Be a Better Writer, Accept Edits with Grace (5 Steps)

When co-workers offer comments about something you wrote, do you accept their feedback with grace and ease or do you bristle like a threatened porcupine? If it’s the latter, be careful. You could get tagged as “difficult” — the Sean Young of the workplace. Never heard of Sean Young? There’s a reason: she was difficult. […]

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