DivvyHQ Book Club: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Everybody Writes author, Ann Handley, delivers a knockout book aimed to help everybody create ridiculously good content.
Where to begin…
For starters, “Dear mom” (it’s in the book). Who knew a book about writing could be such a fun read, and a bit intimidating to write about. I, myself, am a perfect candidate for what Ann is trying to relate. With wit and tactile information, this guide provides an instant writing reboot for our everyday writing.
At DivvyHQ where everyone in the company is encouraged to contribute to everything from blog content and knowledgebase articles to email correspondence, best practices matter and Everybody Writes is a must-have writer’s companion guide.
The book’s main sections on writing, content creation, and publishing, provide a mix of inspiration and exercises to help anyone strengthen their writing muscles. Ann professes, “writing matters more, not less” in today’s economy. Good writing is not bestowed on a few gifted writers, but a habit everyone can cultivate and muscles we strengthen to become better writers.
A few key insights on traversing the writing maze we either loathe or love:
1. Good writing is a cornerstone (to all content writing)
Become relentlessly reader-centric; choose words well, write with economy and style and develop utmost empathy for the reader. Regard writing and publishing content as a great privilege. Craft written material (content, campaigns, tweets, correspondence, your mother-in-law’ card) to entertain, educate, influence, or inform and you’ll be beloved for it.
2. Good technique and process matters
Cultivate a writing process that fits you, begin with a list, outline, template or flowchart —there is no one-size-fits-all formula, but there is a logical progression and structure to writing. Stick with it and lower your expectations on the first draft.
Embrace “The Ugly First Draft” (TUFD) and just get something down, walk away and take a break, or a bath. The magic comes in the edit, thoughtfully trim unnecessary word bloat. Ah, the edit is your friend. Done well and you’re a writing superhero, done poorly and your writing is boring (gasp).
3. Good grammar and tools are essential
Grammar gets a modern refresh, boiled into bite size gems in breezy Ann Handley fashion. And this section is becoming a personal go-to resource for me exposing a multitude of vices to unlearn — active, passive, adverbs, modifiers, frankenwords, eggcorns…it’s all covered.
What’s your favorite mondegreen?
A section on mondegreens was particularly entertaining and laugh-out-loud relatable. “A mondegreen is a term that results from mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase” states Ann. Examples are the favorite lyric you clearly misheard, “Rock the Cash Bar” or “coming down the pipe” (instead the phrase is coming down the pike). Hilarity ensues but these phrases can trip up everyday speaking and writing.
Quite simply, the 74 micro-chapters can help you and me become deliciously good writers…cheers to that. Everybody Writes is probably not a selection for your upcoming book club thriller, but it is, hands down, a brilliant writing resource.
Go forth and create ridiculously good content and pick yourself up a copy.