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The Difference: Obese vs Lean Writing

“Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub; it is the center hole that makes it useful.

Shape clay into a vessel; it is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room; it is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore benefit comes from what is there; usefulness comes from what is not.”

― Excerpt from the Tao Te Ching.

 

On November 19, 1863, two speeches were given to a crowd of 15,000 people in Pennsylvania. One was delivered by a man considered the best orator of the time, the other speaker’s voice was labelled as “shrill”. On that day, one of these speakers delivered one of history’s most memorable speeches.

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Benjamin Franklin on Persuasive Prose

“Men should be taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.”
— Alexander Pope.

 

The above quote was repeated by Benjamin Franklin when describing his method of persuasive writing in his autobiography. Franklin continued his description in his own words:

 

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Assume Nothing. Test Everything.

“No plan survives contact with the enemy”.

 

Historically in marketing, when you’re swinging for the fences, it’s acceptable to get struck out.

 

But the baseball days of marketing are over. It’s time to play Moneyball. Moneyball is a book by Michael Lewis. It describes baseball’s transformation from relying on the subjective opinions of talent scouts and coaches, to relying on statistical insights and advice from statisticians. Baseball moved from subjectivity to objectivity.

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19 High-Growth Tactics for Low Budgets

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

— John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States of America

 

Many small companies copy bigger companies. They see what strategies and tactics they’re applying and copy them. They assume because they’re bigger; they’re better. They call this following best practice.

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Writing With Feeling

I assumed my thoughts were logical. After all, they make so much sense (to me at least). I was distraught to learn that my logic is dictated more by my emotion than I knew. Physicist Richard Feynman was right when he said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”  As a lover of logic, especially my own, the realisation of my logical infallibility was a personal crisis.

 

I was glad to recall the words of John F. Kennedy, “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger—but recognize the opportunity.”

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How To Make Your Readers Feel Like They’re Watching A Movie

“Excellence of style consists in being clear and not commonplace… Authors should compose without being noticed and should seem to speak not artificially but naturally. The latter is persuasive, the former is not; for if artifice is obvious, people become resentful, as if at someone plotting against them, just as they do against those who adulterate wines.” — Aristotle.

 

When you’re reading and you feel like you’re watching a movie—that is the classic writing style at work. The classic style uses words to project a movie into the reader’s mind.

 

When we write with the classic style, we make the abstract concrete, the confusing clear, and the unseen seen. We transform chaos into order. To understand something we need more than abstract notions—we require real-world descriptions. That clarity helps us understand.

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How to Write so People Read

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw.

We assume that when we write or speak others understand us. George Bernard Shaw knew better.

For example, here’s a story featured on Thought Catalog, originally from Reddit; “My Mom really liked the fried noodles that were served with soup at this Asian restaurant. She asked what they were called, and decided to tell everyone about the “Kwan Chi noodles.” It was a good while before she realized the waitress was just saying “Crunchy Noodles” with an accent.”

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