Years ago John Lennon declared the Beatles "more popular than Jesus"; he could have more accurately expressed their impact had he said they were more popular than Charles Dickens. Popularity on the Dickens/Beatles level means to be loved by virtually everyone in one's own and subsequent eras with heartfelt admiration and respect.  Continue reading...
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Many writers today strive to avoid the passive voice. Do you know what I mean by passive? Don't be too quick to say yes!  Continue reading...
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Like most writers, I'm an omnivorous reader. Friends ask me, "What are you reading now?" and I have a hard time answering because when I stop to think, I realize I'm reading a dozen books at once, dipping into this one, skimming through that one.  Continue reading...
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Some people see me as successful. I don't think I'm the least bit talented at anything apart from organizing. (My idiot-savant ability at taking chaos and transforming it into order is useful but in the talent department it kind of sucks. It's like being spectacularly good at checkers or vacuuming the living-room.) But I have one other useful attribute. Grit.  Continue reading...
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"Let the facts speak for themselves" — for writing non-fiction, that's as good a single rule as any I know. If Bobby did ride his bicycle to the store, the strongest, clearest, and plainest way to put that fact into words is: Bobby rode his bicycle to the store.  Continue reading...
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You may wonder why, shortly after waking up every morning, I head upstairs to my office and lie down on the floor and cover myself with a blanket. You'd think, after seven hours of sleep, I wouldn't need to lie down again. But I'm not just lying down; I'm meditating.  Continue reading...
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A group of doctors paid me to edit a report a few years back. Their work — not a medical study, but a document aimed at making a political point — horrified me. When I ran it through readability stats, it earned a grade 14 rating.  Continue reading...
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