What’s a piece of writing advice that’s held true for you?
“The average American has a readability level equivalent to a 7th or 8th grader. Write accordingly.” I can’t stand people who use 1000 words to say something that sounds good. Just get to it already.
If you want to be a writer, ignore growing your audience or anything publisher-related until you write and ship 100 things. It’s what I tell my mentees and anyone looking to start. Just get through the fear and the insecurity and the nagging sense that people are going to make fun of you. Doing anything 100 times breaks the romance of it very quickly — and honestly, after about 15 of them, you’ll know if it’s for you or not.
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
I hate this question. Well, I don’t HATE it, but I hate how it made me feel the first time I read it. I have a lot of insecurity about my writing these days. I don’t believe I’m a “good writer” using whatever metrics people use and I don’t know if I ever will be, but my strategy to get there is simple: Keep doing it and see what happens.
What’s a writing strategy you’ve developed that’s worked for you?
I honestly don’t have one. I wish I did. I recently got diagnosed with ADHD, and before that, my writing style was… erratic at best. Now I’ve found what works is just to file things into giant Evernotes. Then, when the moon aligns and the stars enter the Eastern Hemisphere, I get inspired and just bang out pages until I run out of things to say. Then I immediately walk away from whatever I wrote and then go back hours later or the next day to make cuts, depending on deadlines.
Who do you think really knows how to do a newsletter?
Folu’s newsletter, unsnackable, is excellent because she is one of the last People With Taste we have in this godforsaken nation. I’m probably the biggest Dan Runcie Stan walking the Earth. I have never missed an issue of A Media Operator
. And Ana Andjelic’s newsletter is the only thing that I read that makes me go, “Man, I wanna do THAT”.
What do you do with all the writing ideas that pop into your head? Where do they go?
Tweet them. It’s the best vetting system I’ve found for sourcing public opinion on a topic. If it goes, I dig into it.
As for ideas, I’m not kidding when I say that on average I have three to six BIG ideas a day for stories. I write them down in an Evernote and forget about them until the next time I’m thinking about that particular topic. I don’t recommend this method.
How would you describe your relationship with your readers? (especially if it’s evolved)
I get emotional thinking about my readers. I love hearing from them. I worry about them. I want them to be successful in business and in life. I also fear them. I worry they’re going to hate my stuff. After I left Substack last year, I really had a crisis of confidence where I worried that they only wanted the information and not my personal take on it. It was a hard time because we essentially created a publishing business by accident. Now, I can’t wait to reintroduce them to OfficeHours Mag and what I’ve been working on since we last saw each other. It’s gonna be fun.