What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
Autobiographies are my favorite to read. I love to hear things in that person’s voice. Most recently I read Michelle Obama and Phil Knight’s autobiographies and both books remind me to speak like myself and speak my truth. I also have books with quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali that spark writing ideas for me. They are my writing prompts.
How are you different, as a writer and an editor?
I’m more organized as an editor because there are so many checks and balances one piece has to go through. A piece may publish on April 30th but it has to be filed on April 15th due to the two weeks of edits (copy desk, legal, photo, programmers, etc.). When I was a writer I’d cram in lots of interviews, procrastinate on transcribing for weeks, then turn my piece in at 11:59 pm on deadline days and have a bunch of drinks. Apologies to all my editors. Also not saying writers aren’t organized either because reporting and researching is exhausting.
Who do you think really knows how to do a newsletter?
Henry Abbott and the TrueHoop family have nailed the art of the newsletter. They deliver consistent, quality, in-depth content. You won’t find their POV anywhere else on the web. Plus Henry is just hilarious.
What’s your one tip (that doesn’t get discussed enough) for a writer wanting to become an editor?
Don’t think of becoming an editor as being silenced. It’s actually your chance to really affect the stories that are put out into the world. You shape the daily publication. However, you will still have to pitch stories and convince the rest of the edit team to run your story. The convincing and fighting for stories never stops.
Having experienced both the long and short form writing world, from newsrooms to social-media teams, which skill do you think has gotten the sharpest?
My social voice and sense of what will work on social media has gotten sharpest. I mean, I literally work for a social platform now (all thanks to MY GAWD). When I’m asked to write columns it feels like dusting cobwebs off my fingers. But once I get going, I’m back like I never left. Shoot, even writing this I’m like “Is it time to insert a random emoji or GIF yet?”
What’s a piece of writing advice for going long?
Put it all out there. Brain dump all the information you have and don’t say no to your ideas before they leave your fingertips. Once you have all your thoughts out there, look in between the words and see where you can draw a better picture. Is there a detail you assume the reader knows? Don’t assume and spell it out for them. This will help you go longer for a fuller experience.
What’s a piece of writing advice for going short?
Stop all the throat clearing, no one needs to hear a preamble before you get to your idea. Just say it. Aim for one descriptive word that eliminates using four or five other words. Also think about those little details that you love and kill them. Sorry, not sorry.