Tag Archives: writing

Get on the list: Email you’ll look forward to reading.

Mailbox Peak by Rodrigo Hermann (cropped)

We hear a lot about how people are overwhelmed with email – how they dread the barrage of constant information.  But I’m not sure that the amount of email is the whole problem.  I think it’s more a question of quality.  There’s mundane, useless email and then there’s thoughtful, content-rich email.

Below are a few folks that I look forward to seeing in my inbox because I’ve found them to consistently add value.


iDoneThis is not only a great daily productivity tool for individuals and teams, but they also offer a well-curated weekly newsletter.

What you get:

  • An “appetizer” selection of links from the iDoneThis blog
  • An “entree” exploring how people and companies do their best work.
  • A “dessert” question, quote, or other inspiration

(There was mention of possible changes to the schedule recently, so don’t hold me to the weekly part).


Ann Friedman is a freelance columnist who writes about politics, gender and culture.  I look forward to The Ann Friedman Weekly arriving in my inbox every Friday.

What you get:

  • Links to Ann’s own writing
  • Links to what Ann finds interesting in pop culture
  • Pie charts
  • GIFspirations


Jeff Goins, of Goins, Writer, offers a variety of advice on “better writing and living” and his passion for the work comes through in his email newsletter.

What you get:

  • Thoughtful essays on writing, creating value and building a community
  • Insider access to the author’s eBooks and other resources


I’ve recommended Satya Inayat Khan‘s Unfolded Note before but I find the format so original, I have to keep telling you about it.  I don’t always read them when they arrive at 3:00am but it has happened.

What you get:

  • Reflections on parenting and human connection
  • One beautifully written story per email


I also like:
Tara Gentile
Sarah Von Bargen

How about you?  What email lists would your recommend?


(Photo by Rodrigo Hermann via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)



Sick Day Web Wanderings

peony detail

Don’t you just want to crawl inside this flower and live in those colors?? 

Okay, maybe that’s just the cold medicine talking.  While I hang out here and continue my recovery, why don’t you wander over and check out these interesting folks:

Productivity Counselor, Corporate Disorganizer, Urban Shepherd…sparks & honey‘s 20 Jobs of the Future will give you a lot to think about.  Check out their blog for a bit of eye candy as well.

Alexandra Franzen is always inspirational and this recent post on reframing how we think about our audience, whether it’s one reader or 2,000, hit home for me.

I strongly recommend signing up for Satya Inayat Khans email list.  She sends beautifully written, one-minute snippets of her life.  Trust me, it’s a good addition to your inbox.

If you’re starting to feel the itch of spring fever, you’ll enjoy how Christopher Demers captures the brief moments of transition beautifully in The Witching Hour.


(The photo above is a peony from my garden, several summers ago.)


January: Reading, Writing, Thinking.

I’m reading about…

Convents and the Spanish Inquisition.  The Sisterhood is my book club’s selection this month.


I also just received Deconstructing Penguins, a guide for discussing literature with kids.  I found the Goldstones’ Used and Rare oddly riveting for a book about book collecting, so I’m optimistic about this one.

I’m writing about…

Management.  Startling, I know.  But the real news here is that I’m trying to do most of my writing on paper.  Too much screen time has been giving me some wicked headaches.  I’m in slight denial that my eyes are failing me, but I am certain my office ergonomics are off.  I’m intrigued by the idea of active sitting and wonder if this chair would help my neck and back.

I’m thinking about…

Homeschooling.  My kid is only 2, so I have some time to think about this one.  But I believe self-directed, project-based learning is the best preparation for tomorrow’s careers.  And test-centric public school just isn’t providing that.

Penelope Trunk makes a pretty persuasive case for why homeschooling is the best solution for balancing work and kids.  But then there’s the primal fear that my kid will turn out weird.  Or that I will have to learn to knit.

If you’re interested in homeschooling, The Year of Learning Dangerously is insightful and laugh-out-loud funny.  As is Quinn Cummings’ blog.


This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.


Post. Promote. Move on.


Remember the dieting tip that advises brushing your teeth after a meal or snack?  The thought being that if the taste of food lingers in your mouth, you’ll keep coming back for more, which leads to over-eating and weight gain.

I’ve started applying a version of this idea to my writing.  When I finish an article or post, I “brush my teeth” by immediately moving on to the next article or post.  This way, I don’t keep coming back for more – i.e. over-working, second-guessing, or just plain obsessing over what I’ve already written.

This year, my blogging mantra is:  Post.  Promote.  Move on.

How about you?  What tips and tricks do you apply to keep your writing moving forward?


(Photo credit: Microsoft)


5 big ideas I’m working into my 2014 project plan.

post it note joybot

There’s a lot of information out there in the blogosphere.  Some good.  Some almost good.  A lot… well, just… not good.  And even amongst the good, some ideas stick and some don’t.  But sometimes you find the information you need, just when you need it.  And those are the magic moments.

Here are a few ideas that are resonating with me as I draft my 2014 Project Plan:

1Why You Should Build a Habit of Writing Every Day from David Spinks:

“In a tech world where everything is constantly changing there’s one thing that has remained consistent for as long as we’ve had business and that’s writing.”

2How to be The Luckiest Guy on the Planet in 4 Easy Steps from James Altucher:

“The “idea muscle” atrophies within days if you don’t use it. Just like walking. If you don’t use your legs for a week, they atrophy. You need to exercise the idea muscle.”

3How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams, as shared by Shane Parrish:

“Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.”

4Screw New Year’s Resolutions – Try Designing Your Career from Jennifer Dziura:

“Staring at a blank calendar page and then writing “exercise” or “creative writing class” or “study for the GRE” or “make a weeks’ worth of healthy meals” on it twelve times is an excellent way to gauge your real feelings about these things (and thus help to define your values).”

5The secret for keeping a New Year’s resolution: KPIs from Penelope Trunk:

“KPIs are humbling. They are not grand, change-the-world goals. They are small reminders of where you really are in this life.”

How about you?  What’s resonating with you as we approach the New Year?

(Photo by Sarah Joy via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)


Read This Book: Writing That Works

“How to write memos, letters, reports, speeches, resumes, plans and other papers that what you mean – and get things done”

Writing That Works is a practical guide to effective business writing.  Clear, concise and easy to read, it practices what it preaches.  I picked up a copy after reading Maria Popova‘s “10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy“.  Ogilvy knew a thing or two about persuasive communication and he encouraged his staff to read Roman-Raphaelson three times.  I recommend you do the same.

I’m reading the 1981 edition from my local library, which is charmingly pre-email.  The more recent version contains an “I Love My Computer” chapter and other updated information.


This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.


October: Reading, Writing, Thinking.

I’m reading about…

Human cell culture, cryptographic cults and Scottish schoolgirls.


I’m writing about…

Mental maps, formal outlines and free writing.  Getting ideas out of my head and onto paper is always challenging and I’ve found that different techniques work on different days.

I’m thinking about…

Segments, rays and angles.  One of the few things I remember about my high school coursework is doing proofs in geometry class.  I loved them.  Weird, I know.  I guess my brain just likes logic and structure.  So, fully embracing my inner nerd, I purchased a geometry proof workbook.  And I’ve found working through it to be strangely meditative.  Who knew?


And speaking of school, do you remember your Trapper Keeper?  I love this article on the market research behind the product.


This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.