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Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean Hardcover – September 13, 2016
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From the Publisher
The Top 10 Ways That Clear Writing Can Boost Your Career
By Josh Bernoff, author of Writing Without Bullshit.
You may not think you're a business writer, but you are. You write emails. Perhaps you write web pages or reports or news releases. And whatever you write, you're probably doing it wrong. What you learned in school is the exact opposite of what you need to succeed in a world where everyone reads on a screen.
People today spend about 36 seconds on the average news article. A typical businessperson spends 46 hours per week reading and writing. They're busy, and their lives are cluttered. You need to write in a way that punches through the noise. You need to write without bullshit.
Here are my top ten tips for writing that succeeds at work:
1. Move beyond fear. When you're afraid, you write like you're afraid. Stop hedging and say what you mean. You'll get credit for directness.
2. Write shorter. Delete the warmup sentences. Organize carefully. Delete repetitive content. If you keep your emails under 250 words, people will be more likely to read them.
3. Front-load your writing. Make your titles and subject lines descriptive. Tell the story in the first two sentences. You haven't got long to capture people's attention.
4. Purge passive voice. Passive sentences frustrate people. Don't tell us "the new system is estimated to cost $150,000." Tell us who's responsible: "The IT department estimates that the new system will cost $150,000."
5. Replace jargon. Big words are more likely to confuse readers than impress them. Don’t tell us that you've "become part of the vendor ecosystem” when you really mean "our product is now compatible with other companies' software."
6. Eliminate weasel words. Weasel words are vague, meaningless intensifiers. When you tell us you're "incredibly excited about the new hire's massive performance improvement and deep knowledge of the subject," we sense that you’re bullshitting us. Replace the intensifiers and qualifiers with facts and statistics.
7. Reveal structure. Paragraphs suck for online readers, especially when stacked on one another like cinder blocks. Use headings, bullets, lists, tables, graphics, and links to make writing easier to scan and parse.
8. Structure your process. If you're writing something long, spend the first half of your time on research and planning. Then, when it's time to write, you'll have everything at your fingertips.
9. Write a fat outline. Regular outlines are worthless for planning. Pretend you're writing a "treatment" for Hollywood: Include details, quotes, and ideas in your outline. Fat outlines force you to plan more thoroughly, and they're great for communicating your plan to others.
10. Manage reviews with discipline. Reviewers will ruin your best writing if you let them. Give each reviewer a specific task, like verifying technical details or the correctness of language. Set deadlines so the reviews come back together. Then, don't just do what they say; use your creativity to solve the problems they've found without losing the soul of what you wrote.
Whether you're writing web copy or research reports, make an impact. Don't write to fit in. Write to stand out. Write without bullshit.
From the Back Cover
Every day at work, you write. Are you writing to stand out, or writing to fit in?
Writing Without Bullshit is the first comprehensive guide to writing for today’s world: a noisy environment where everyone reads on a screen. The average news story now gets only thirty-six seconds of attention. Unless you change how you write, your emails, reports, and web copy don’t stand a chance.
In this practical and witty little book, you’ll learn to front-load your writing with pithy titles, subject lines, and opening sentences. You’ll acquire the courage and skill to purge weak and meaningless jargon, wimpy passive voice, and cowardly weasel words. And you’ll get used to writing directly to the reader to make every word count.
At the center of it all is the Iron Imperative: treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own. Embrace that, and your customers, your boss, and your colleagues will recognize the power and boldness of your thinking.
Transcend the fear that makes your writing weak. Plan and execute writing projects with confidence. Manage edits and reviews flawlessly. And master every modern format, from emails and social media posts to reports and press releases.Writing Without Bullshit is The Elements of Style for the Internet era; an essential tonic for the career of every serious businessperson.
About the Author
Josh Bernoff has been a professional business writer for more than 30 years, including two decades as a renowned technology analyst. He is the coauthor of three books on business strategy, including the bestseller Groundswell.
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* uses written communication,
* has customers (remember your colleagues are customers, too) and
* wants to improve how they communicate (I find what I've learnt 'slipping' into how I think and communicate orally, too)
The book is great because it:
* focuses on the psychology for BS use in communication,
* provides practical techniques to remedy our issues and
* can be used to critically evaluate what you and others produce
For practise, I reviewed and edited my CEO's last email (about a service review), using what I'd learnt in the book and it was revelatory, I saw flaws in:
*key facts and
I'd not have known to look for prior to reading this book.
Everybody’s wrong. It’s just a question of how much.
The world of business writing is awash with:
- Emails with mysterious subject lines like “Here it is”;
- Blog posts that begin with a faulty premise, then veer off into a bramble of unrelated topics;
- Advertising and PR with messages written in passive voice and littered with weasel words and jargon.
You could write a book about it. Instead, read Josh Bernoff’s “Writing Without Bulls***”.
I've been a writer and consultant for my entire career, and it's rare that I read anything about writing that's really new. But Josh provides planning tools and approaches to help fight creeping bulls*** that are fantastic: fresh and genuinely useful.
No matter how well you write today, you can do it better. This book will show you how.
A world with less bulls*** is better for everybody, AND writing well will help you get ahead in your career. This is a must-read, buy it today.
It's title perfectly captures how it's written and delivers on why it's important to write with clarity.
Our lives are so filled with digital distractions that, as writers, we need to make sure that our message gets across in simple to understand prose.
Josh's book perfectly spells out this problem and gives solutions on how to make your writing clear and readable.
If you write anything, then I would recommend picking up this book. It's an easy read and will help you be a better writer.
It's not just the calling out that makes this book valuable. Much help is offered to make our writing an asset instead of a liability. I loved the concepts of how to brag intelligently, email thoughtfully, collaborate without tears, and just plain say what you mean. The book is well organized, easy to read, and, most of all, is without bulls***.
clear, coherent, concise prose--my top three bits for writing anything. I write and I teach writing. As a writing teacher and a teaching writer, I will be using this book with students, with colleagues who need help with writing, and in my workshops. I will be pilfering some of his sample emails, memos, and reports, which Josh edits impeccably according to his key principles. Even in his preliminary chapters, which contain familiar advice about writing, Josh Bernoff writes with wit and humor and a compelling voice. Listen to what he says. Practice what he preaches. Get the book, read the book, use the book. Your writing will improve.
Top international reviews
At times I found myself thinking that there were too many examples and too much filler-text (unnecessary or repetitive content) for a book that repeats again and again the importance of accuracy and brevity. Just one minor issue in an otherwise solid book.
The ROAM ( Readers, Objectives, Action and iMpression) framework will give you a structure for writing. A must read for people who write for a living.