Whether you’re a writer of short stories, blogs, or emails, there’s a simple exercise you can do to strengthen your craft.
Revisit an old piece a week or two after publishing. It’s easier to spot flaws when you read your piece without the emotion of impending publication or the pressure of a deadline.
In almost every piece, you’ll find a typo, a confusing sentence, a silly cliché, or some other shame-inducing writing faux pas.
That’s what happened to me this morning. I opened a recent story and nearly cried at my blatant defilement of the English language.
A former copywriting mentor once advised, “When you write sales copy, pretend someone’s pointing a gun to your head saying sell this or die.”
He reasoned that you wouldn’t worry about coming on too strong or trying too hard in a life or death situation. You’d do whatever’s necessary.
The advice never worked. Your brain knows the difference between imagining a gun pointed at your head and the reality of a real one pressed against your temple.
Even though his method failed, his argument rings true. …
I waltzed into the giant conference room to greet my new teammates, seasoned colleagues to steer me through the rough waters of corporate America.
Before the welcome lunch ended, they destroyed my career.
I made the mistake of asking for advice. They were happy to oblige, hoodwinking me into volunteering for a project that would thrust me into the throes of irrelevancy, clearing out someone they believed a threat to their dominance.
For months, I thought my devious colleagues had gotten the better of me until one morning, almost all of them lost their jobs. …
“If you can’t win by fighting fair, fight foul” — Unknown mobster
When Georgia Republicans passed SB 202 into law, critics blasted it as a move to suppress votes, focusing their outrage on voting impediments like the ban on mobile voting buses and the prohibition of giving out water to people waiting in line.
These restrictions, though significant, act as mere sleight of hand meant to distract us from the real power grab.
In crafting section 5 of the law, the Georgia GOP copied the strategy Las Vegas mobsters used to control the major casinos from the 1950s through the…
As an ambitious twenty-something, I believed money and professional achievement defined success.
By the time I reached my thirties, I had soured on these traditional success markers. The temporary satisfaction gained from money and job titles equated to a night of heavy drinking. It felt good at first but then deteriorated into a head-crushing hangover.
Most of us dispense with the false promise of money and professional accolades and graduate to the equally ludicrous metric: If I’m happy, then I’m successful.
I’m not sure how these two abstract states became intertwined. Happiness ebbs and flows for reasons we can’t always…
Whenever Mia ambled by, conversations paused, and heads turned. Her enchanting habit of tucking her hair behind her ear whenever she smiled could soften the most hardened misanthrope.
Was she kind and generous? Did she like to have fun? Hard to say.
Mia was way out of my league, so far beyond my reach that I never even fantasized about dating her. My imaginary scouting report labeled her as unreachable, unapproachable, and unimaginable for a man of my undistinguished physical attributes and unremarkable personality traits.
But somehow, we ended up together.
We knew each other, but not well — the…
One night in April of 1999, I snuck out of work at 9 PM and met some friends at a glitzy New York City bar famous for their $15 lobster rolls ($30 adjusted for inflation) and one too many creatively mixed drinks.
We celebrated an achievement I had sought since moving to New York.
I had officially made it, landing one of those impressive white-collar yuppy jobs. It came with an impressive paycheck, but the money paled in comparison with the real prize, something I craved more than money.
It gave me status, ordaining me as a card-carrying member of…
A former copywriting mentor often referenced the 1973 movie, The Sting as a way of teaching us the art of manipulation.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford played a pair of grifters who teamed up to con a rich gangster. Redford played the young, impetuous upstart, eager to stick it to the guy who killed his friend. Newman played the wise elder, who crushed that desire when he remarked, “He can never know you conned him.” In the ideal con, the mark never knows he’s been taken.
Skilled manipulators follow the same rule. They’ll fool you, fleece you, and deceive you…
Skeptics delight in doubt, and that earns them a bad rap. To the untrained ear, they come across as negative, even confrontational.
Sure, you can take it too far like the pure skeptics who follow the old-school philosophy: nothing can be known with certainty. They disbelieve everything that’s not empirically provable.
Thoughtful skepticism follows a more practical approach. If a piece of fruit looks, smells, and tastes like an orange, we can conclude it as such without empirical evidence from chemical composition.
It’s less extreme than its purest cousin but still protects us from the onslaught of bullshit rifling through…