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Everyone can write. But not everyone can write well.

We all learn to write at school but then society makes a distinction between 'writers' and 'the rest of us.' A writer sits in a garret and writes poetry. The rest of us write memos. It's a false division.

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If you've heard them once, you've heard them a thousand times: "Back to the drawing board." "Get our ducks in a row." "Do the heavy lifting." "Think outside the box." We're talking clichés, the banal staples of business meetings, conference calls, speeches, and web content. You're tired of them; I'm tired of them. Yet when push comes to shove, when our feet are to the fire, and--especially--at the end of the day, we keep coming back. Like moths to that bright, hot, flickering thing. It's a losing battle, the fight against clichés. But I'm tanned, rested, and ready; I have my game face on; I came to play; I'm good to go! Clichés, prepare to meet your unmaker.

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My company, Articulate, runs regular seminars in London aimed at getting companies (rather than individuals) to write better. Two questions always resonate: how to encourage staff to write better and how to give feedback. Get them right and you are on your way to being an articulate business.

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Nancy Friedman, the naming and branding expert who contributed our "Candlepower" feature this week says, "here's a clutch of useful and entertaining sites about readin' and writin'. 'Rithmetic I leave to others more qualified." She writes:

Writerisms and Other Sins: A Writer's Shortcut to Stronger Writing was first posted in 1995, but it's as relevant as ever. Author C.J. Cherryh defines "writerisms" as "overused and misused language"--and the examples are fresh and memorable. Includes the definitive guide to never mistaking "who" for "whom."

Give What Should I Read Next the title of a book you enjoyed and it will suggest others you should try. Differs from Amazon Recommendations because it's based on books you've actually read and liked, not books you may have bought for others--or bought and returned.

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I logged a lot of years as a journalist before I made the leap into marketing. At first, writing marketing copy instead of filing stories seemed like a big change. But gradually I came to see my journalism training as an invaluable asset in my new career. In fact, I now believe that a journalism education is excellent preparation for writing of any kind.

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Blog Excerpts

Clarity in Marketing

Tom Asacker, marketing guru and author of A Clear Eye for Branding, writes the blog "a clear eye." In it he shares his thoughts on clarity, what he calls marketing's new task. Tom says: "Clarity should be the guiding principle behind every marketing effort. Clearness of thought. Clearness of appearance. Clearness of message. Clarity should inform every campaign, drive every question, and rationalize every dollar spent and every piece of data captured and analyzed." Read the piece here.
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There are different, competing claims about the origin of the term rule of thumb. I prefer the idea that it stems from the fact that the length from the tip of the thumb to the knuckle is about one inch (or if you're a pilot and you use 1:500,000 charts, about 10 nautical miles).

In any case, they are useful guidelines that make it easier to do something without thinking it through from first principles each time. Here are ten of mine as applied to writing:

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6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 57-63 of 69 Articles