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Communication: “Shipping News” Your Writing

Communication: “Shipping News” Your Writing

One very influential book in my collection of such books is Annie Proulx’s THE SHIPPING NEWS. It looks a little out of place next to Covey’s THE 8TH HABIT, Welch’s WINNING, etc. But there’s a great reason it’s there.

The book is about a man moving to Newfoundland and landing a job at a small newspaper. Quoyle’s not particularly bright, but this isn’t much of a hinderance. Newfoundland is an island off the upper east coast of Canada (and somewhere I’d love to live), and it’s sparse, but gorgeous.

Shipping News as a Verb

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What separates Proulx’s writing in this book from most books you’ll read is how sparse her sentences are. They’re short. Each one is tiny. They don’t even always fit with grammatical correctness. Something like this.

Are you getting it?

Now, what I’m saying is this: people get TONS of things to read in a day. My day-job email is clocking about 200 emails a day. My second life email is around 100. When I get a missive, I have to scan. I don’t have time to read every volume or tome that comes my way.

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Not to mention blog posts. I scan over 100 blogs a day, and that requires the same treatment.

Suggestions

  • Mix short sentences in with long.
  • Keep paragraphs short.
  • Break up text with subtitles (like this post).
  • Give visual queues, even if it breaks grammatical form. (Look up at my “Are you getting it?” line).
  • Use small words where you can. (Don’t say “obfuscate” when “confuse” or “distort” will do.)
  • Put really important stuff up top.
  • Close with action.

Close With Action

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In emails, blog posts, and most correspondence, the writer assumes something that’s not entirely true or accurate. The writer assumes that the reader will diligently read all the way to the bottom of the post or email, and that everything will be absorbed as if there will be a test on it tomorrow. Not so.

One way to get repeatable “full reads” of your email/post is to ensure a call-to-action at the bottom. You can be explicit: “Action Items: Dave- write a review for the site” , or you can be a little more soft-shoe. “I really want your advice on this. Drop me a line when you have a moment.”

Get your readers into the habit of fininshing your emails/posts, and it pays off. But that’s a promise you have to act upon. You have to promise to make all your emails and posts WORTH reading, and with a payoff based on the content you provide. Only then will there be the proper relationship between you and your intended audience.

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Does this work for you? I’d like to know.

–Chris Brogan’s most recent call to action is to co-found PodCamp, a FREE unConference about audio and video podcasting being held in Boston on Sept 9-10 at Bunker Hill Community College (venue sponsored by Museum of Science, Boston. Come meet the producer of the Life Hack podcast at PodCamp.

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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

Problems and heartaches in life are inevitable. However, there are some things to remember when you’re right in the thick of it that can help you get through it. When everything seems to be going wrong, practice telling yourself these things.

1. This Too Shall Pass

Sometimes life’s rough patches feel like they’re going to last forever. Whether you’re dealing with work-related issues, family problems, or stressful situations, very few problems last for a lifetime. So remind yourself, that things won’t be this bad forever.

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2. Some Things are Going Right

When things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognize what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good things and only focus on the bad things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something very small.

3. I Have Some Control

One of the most most important things to remember is that you have some control of the situation. Even if you aren’t in complete control of the situation, one thing you can always control is your attitude and reaction. Focus on managing what is within your control.

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4. I Can Ask for Help

Asking for help can be hard sometimes. However, it’s one of the best ways to deal with tough situations. Tell people what you need specifically if they offer to help. Don’t be afraid to call on friends and family and ask them for help, whether you need financial assistance, emotional support, or practical help.

5. Much of This Won’t Matter in a Few Years

Most of the problems we worry about today won’t actually matter five years from now. Remind yourself that whatever is going wrong now is only a small percentage of your actual life. Even if you’re dealing with a major problem, like a loved one’s illness, remember that a lot of good things are likely to happen in the course of a year or two as well.

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6. I Can Handle This

A lack of confidence in handling tough times can add to stress. One of the best things to remember is that you can handle tough situations. Even though you might feel angry, hurt, disappointed, or sad, it won’t kill you. You can get through it.

7. Something Good Will Come Out of This

No matter how bad a situation is, it’s almost certain that something good will come out of it. At the very least, it’s likely that you will learn a life lesson. Perhaps you learn not to repeat the same mistake in the future or maybe you move on from a bad situation and find something better. Look for the one good thing that can result when bad things happen.

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8. I Can Accept What’s Out of my Control

There are many things that aren’t within your control. You can’t change the past, another person’s behavior, or a loved one’s health issues. Don’t waste time trying to force others to change or trying to make things be different if it isn’t within your control. Investing time and energy into trying to things you can’t will cause you to feel helpless and exhausted. Acceptance is one of the best way to establish resilience.

9. I Have Overcome Past Difficulties

One of the things to remember when you’re facing difficulties, is that you’ve handled problems in the past. Don’t overlook past difficulties that you’ve dealt with successfully. Remind yourself of all the past problems you’ve overcome and you’ll gain confidence in dealing with the current issues.

10. I Need to Take Care of Myself

When everything seems to be going wrong, take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, get some exercise, eat healthy, and spend some time doing leisure activities. When you’re taking better care of yourself you’ll be better equipped to deal with your problems.

More Tips to Help You Carry On

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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