Speechwriters Are the Serious Ones
Some speechwriters might have resented it when I criticized Jon Favreau and Lovett for what I saw as the glib, snarky style the former Obama speechwriters showed on an appearance on The Stephen Colbert Show, back in April.
Does the head of the Professional Speechwriters Association condemn his flock to the back pasture? Once a speechwriter, always a monk—is that it?
My thinking on the...
Introducing The Hot Sheet: A Great New Resource for People Who Care About Publishing
Anyone working freelance in today’s publishing industry is in a double bind. (And you can be forgiven if you feel doubly blindsided, too.)
Not only is a first-rate ghost, an editor, a freelance writer of any kind expected to be up to speed on industry issues, changes, developments, and trends, but she or he is also expected to hit deadlines and contribute the kinds of ideas that in-house teams have handed to them by their managements and support teams.
Remind Them What They Know: Speechwriting when everything has already been said
“People need to be reminded,” said Samuel Johnson, “more often than they need to be instructed.”
Commencement speakers struggle to come up with a speech, when “everything’s already been said.” Keynote speakers wonder what they can tell people that "they don't already know."
But everything hasn’t been said by you, at this moment in history, to the audience gathered today.
And more importantly: Whatever...
What to Do When You Doubt Your Talent
Most great writers aren't great successes, as the world counts success. Write anyway.
A few weeks ago* my son and I drove down to Richmond to see Americana singer-songwriter Caleb Caudle, a guy I’d heard only on the Internet. He is living the typical musician’s life, friending fans on Facebook, recording and releasing music on his own, and driving from gig to gig. He was...
Five Nevers of Ghostwriting Success
Looking back over my three decades of ghostwriting, I realize that every bad client experience I had was really my own fault. In each case, I ignored the flashing red warning signs. I’m not claiming that these rules are absolute for every ghostwriter, nor that they will protect you in every case. I only hope that my five “nevers” may be a useful guide to other ghostwriters.
- Never Agree to Work with a Client After You Say You Won’t ...
It’s Not as Bad as You Think
In America, we engage in frivolous rhetoric because we can afford to. That’s not a boast. That’s a failure of character. It's along these lines: The comedian Chris Rock said, “If a homeless person has a funny sign, he hasn’t been homeless that long. A real homeless person is too hungry to be funny.”
I say a nation that was really hurting for themselves or others wouldn’t spend any time calling the other half names. They’d get serious and do whatever...
You, me, and RFK
I took a Robert Kennedy biography on spring break, and all I got was six lousy insights on speechwriting.
The Speechwriter’s Pipe Dream: Writing Our Own Job Description
In this space a couple of weeks ago, an outsider might have thought speechwriters were complaining about the unreasonable—or unreasonably numerous—demands that organizations place on them.
As a speechwriter these days, “you write, you relationship, you gap-fill, you verify,” I quoted a speechwriter as saying. “Thinking, reading, expanding, learning is done on your...
PSA: Keep Your Day Job
Merritt Tierce has a great name but it doesn’t begin with J, so I’m a little unclear as to why she assumed she could make a living out of writing.
One Simple Question: An Old Pro’s Ultimate Key to Powerful Communications
Hands down it was the greatest writing lesson in my illustrious almost thirty years in the journalism/publishing business. It was just one simple sentence of sage advice from an old, wily tabloid editor.
It changed my career and my life. And it just might improve the power of every single thing you say, you write and you communicate in any way.
I was a thirty-year-old rewrite editor at the Globe, the infamous tabloid that was making headlines at the time for...