The Writing Edge for Business Writers: 7/21/17

Jul 21, 2017 | Reading Lists

You’re a businessperson. You may not think of yourself as a writer, but you know that writing well can boost your results and your career. Naturally, you want to do better. Every week I point you to articles and blog posts that I think will teach you something or spark an idea or two. The posts are about the intertwined tasks of reading and writing. Some weeks there are more pointers than others.

This week I’m pointing you to pieces on how to read more, one thing that can hurt your writing, determining when to get permissions, and why you should read more science fiction.

From Cari Romm: How to Read More Books When It Feels Like You Never Have Time

“The obvious problem, though, is finding the time. Becoming a more voracious reader by teaching yourself to read faster isn’t really an option, since research has shown that speed-reading doesn’t work — you can train your eyes to skim over the words faster, but you absorb less of what’s on the page. The only thing to do, then, is figure out how to clear out the time in your schedule.”

From Glenn Leibowitz: The Single Reason Why People Can’t Write, According to a Harvard Psychologist

“For Pinker, the root cause of so much bad writing is what he calls ‘the Curse of Knowledge’, which he defines as ‘a difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know. The curse of knowledge is the single best explanation I know of why good people write bad prose.’”

Wally’s Comment: There’s a great description of “The Curse of Knowledge” in Chip and Dan Heath’s great book: Made to Stick

From Jane Friedman: A Basic Guide to Getting Permissions + Sample Permissions Letter

“If you want to use copyrighted material in your own published work (whether a print book, magazine, or online venue), then it may be necessary to request formal permission for its use. And whether you really need to request permission depends on whether your use would fall under fair use guidelines.”

From Eliot Peper: Why Business Leaders Need to Read More Science Fiction

“If 19th-century urban planners had had access to big data, machine learning techniques, and modern management theory, these tools would not have helped them. They simply would have confirmed their existing concerns. Extrapolating from past trends is useful but limiting in a world of accelerating technological change. Science fiction can help. Maybe you associate it with spaceships and aliens, but science fiction offers more than escapism. By presenting plausible alternative realities, science fiction stories empower us to confront not just what we think but also how we think and why we think it. They reveal how fragile the status quo is, and how malleable the future can be.”

Wally’s Comment: I’m reading some science fiction as part of my summer reading. I just finished Ender’s Game.

Sources I Check Regularly

I find the posts and articles that I share with you on The Writing Edge in many places. But there are a few that provide insightful pieces again and again. Here they are.

Alliance of Independent Authors

Frances Caballo

Jane Friedman

Jerry Jenkins

Joel Friedlander

Joanna Penn

Melissa G. Wilson

Men with Pens

Merce Cardus


Becky Robinson’s Weaving Influence