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A publication from Medium on personal development.

Writing Tips

In Forge. More on Medium.

Creativity doesn’t need to have an expiration date

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The phrase “unfinished project” brings something specific to mind for each of us. For you, it might be the novel you’ve been working on for the past decade, or the pile of knitting supplies sitting in the corner of your bedroom, or the stack of half-read books collecting dust on your coffee table.

Whatever it is, I’m willing to bet that thinking about it makes you a little uncomfortable. Anything uncompleted tends to have that effect. Oftentimes, the discomfort is not even about the project itself — it’s a reminder of all of your shortcomings and failures. “I’ll never finish…

Young woman sitting at a desk and participating in a video conference.
Young woman sitting at a desk and participating in a video conference.
Photo: AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for a workshop on writing effective op-eds with a group of academics. Maybe we would all take turns standing at a podium, playing intellectual defense as people searched for holes in our arguments. But what ended up taking place was both gentler and more energizing — and it’s given me a powerful strategy for propelling ideas forward.

“We’re going to do something I call the ‘Hunch Hour,’” the workshop facilitator, Courtney Martin, told the group. The other participants and I looked at each other, confused. …

An exercise for figuring out your value at work or anywhere else

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If you’ve never written a book before, you fall into one of two groups: You either will write a book someday, or you could write a book someday.

Even if you have no plans to write a book, you should figure out what your book would be. Because in some ways, it’s the central question of your life. What’s my purpose? What do I have to give? What’s my value? What am I worth? The answer is always singular, and it’s always revealing.

Everyone has a book in them. The person in your professional life you’re most happy to see…

Strategies to ensure you always have something worthwhile to say

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Often, when people say, “I don’t know what to write,” they really mean one of two things: They haven’t spent enough time formulating their ideas, or they’re trying to write something they don’t really believe in.

Many years ago, I started writing fiction — or rather, I tried to start writing fiction. My attempts never amounted to anything, and for years, I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t until I read an essay on writing by Arthur Schopenhauer, the German pessimist, that it finally clicked. “There are above all two kinds of writers,” he wrote: “those who write for the sake…

✍️ Today’s tip: To make your writing more persuasive, make it easier to read.

Whenever you have to argue something in writing — whether you’re pitching a project at work or trying to win a debate on Facebook — follow this guiding principle from the Nobel laureate economist and psychologist Daniel Kahneman: “The easier your message is to read, understand, and remember, the more convincing it will be,” he writes in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, one of Forge’s 21 essential self-help reads of the 21st century.

This can include using a font that’s visually easy to scan, writing…

Illustrations: Katya Dorokhina

How to Write Anything

The key is specificity

This story is part of Forge’s How to Write Anything series, where we give you tips, tricks, and principles for writing all the things we write in our daily lives online, from tweets to articles to dating profiles.

I’ve written more than 300 stories on Medium since 2015. Some have gotten crickets, but many have been read and shared by millions of people interested in self-improvement, productivity, and personal finance.

Over the years, readers have asked me how they can write stories that more people will want to read. I’ve wondered this myself. What makes people care about what I…

If you want to be a better writer, speak

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“Don’t let a sentence through unless it’s the way you’d say it to a friend.”

The advice comes from the Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham in his essay “Write Like You Talk.” Graham, who’s somehow able to distill complex topics like fragmentation and scalability into digestible essays, explains that if you can write in spoken language, you’re already doing better than 95% of writers.

I agree with his assessment, which is why I often write by dictation. I’ll spew out my unstructured thoughts aloud, while dictation software such as Otter or Mac’s built-in dictation tool transforms my word into written…

Advice on extraneous words from the Random House copy chief

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There’s a lot of deleting in copyediting, not just of the “very”s and “rather”s and “quite”s and excrescent “that”s with which we all encase our prose like so much Bubble Wrap and packing peanuts, but of restatements of information — “as estab’d,” one politely jots in the margin.

Much repetition, though, comes under the more elementary heading of Two Words Where One Will Do, and here’s a collection of easily disposed of redundancies. Some of these may strike you as obvious — though their obviousness doesn’t stop them from showing up constantly. …


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