Advice from the Masters: Charles Handy’s Mother

Jun 29, 2016 | Better Writing

I discovered Charles Handy when I read the Age of Unreason, twenty-some years ago. I love the way he uses a well-aimed question or wry observation to help you see common things in a new way.

I’ve just finished Handy’s most recent book, The Second Curve. I made lots of notes. I had several of those moments when I went for a walk so I could turn something Handy said over and over in my mind.

The advice I’m going to share below comes from that book, but it’s not from Handy himself. He relates the story of how he gave his mother a copy of his first book. Later, he noticed that she hadn’t read past page ten and asked her why. Here’s what Handy’s mother said:

“I don’t know why you need to use all those new words. Surely there are enough in the Book of Common Prayer and the works of Shakespeare to cover all you need to say.”

He describes it as the best editorial advice he ever received.

Want more? Check out the complete list of Advice from the Masters posts

If you want even more writing advice from writers, check out Jon Winokur’s blog, “AdvicetoWriters.”

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