Don’t “write blog posts” or “launch products.”
Create little miracles.

 
 

Want to make helpful things that people actually want to read, watch, use, buy and share?

But … not sure what your people actually need?

It’s simple.

Ask them:

 

What would feel like a miracle right now?

 

That’s it.

Ask that question.

And listen closely.

Maybe your people will say …

For me? A miracle would be …

: Completing a half-marathon.
: Falling back in love with my partner.
: Finishing the book I’ve been sitting on for five years.
: Fitting into my clothes + feeling at home in my own skin.
: Having a chance to unplug + get out of town for a few days.
: Knowing how to throw the ultimate dinner party, like, tonight!
: Knowing how to say to my boss, “I’m not doing that.”
: Knowing how to get my teenager to cooperate.
: Really believing that I can do ____________.


Then?

 

Go be a miracle worker.

 

“Great! Here’s a toolkit that will help you to do EXACTLY that…”

“I hear ya. Here’s an inside peek at how I accomplished that, step by step…”

“Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you’re dealing with ____________. Here’s something that will help…”

 

Serve up the exact flavor of “miracle” that your people are praying for.

Not the miracle you wish they were praying for.

The miracle they’re actually praying for.

 

Create little miracles. Or big ones. Daily.

 

Do that, and you’ll never have to “convince” people that your “stuff” is high-quality, insightful and stupendously valuable.

They’ll already know.

xo.

 
 

PS. What’s the miracle that your people are praying for?

 
 

I wanna be the kid who dances like a total dork + lights up the world. How about you?

 
 
 

“What should I charge for my new product: $75 or $150?”

“Should I update my blog five times a week, or is twice enough?”

“What’s the best way to follow up with someone who’s hard to reach? Email? Phone? Both?”

 
 

Three questions. Three people.

Three bright minds + brave hearts, deeply committed to doing great work.

I listened. I contemplated. And in the end, my answer to all three questions … was exactly the same:

 

“Go with what feels right.”

 

I know, I know.

It’s the most annoying answer of all time.

It’s also the only answer that makes sense. (At least, in my mind.)

And here’s why:

 

When you do things that don’t feel right, you feel uncomfortable + resentful.

When you feel uncomfortable + resentful, you do un-awesome work.

When you do un-awesome work, you feel ashamed + disappointed.

When you feel ashamed + disappointed, it’s impossible to talk about your work with enthusiasm + confidence. Unless you’re a really good liar. (Which, let’s face it, you’re not.)

And if you can’t talk about your work with enthusiasm + confidence, well …

You see where this sad-parade is marching.

 

That’s why my answer to pretty much every question ever (writing, business, what to eat for lunch, sex, life, whatever) is:

 

“Go with what feels right.”

 

Because, c’mon.

Who would YOU rather watch?

The kid dancing (like a total dork) with jaw-dropping enthusiasm, joy, self-trust and conviction?

Or the kid dancing (like a perfect robot) with a grimace of resentment etched on his face?

I know who I’d rather watch.

 

The kid who knows what feels right.

 

xo.

 
 

What is a “good” writer, anyway?

 
 

Alexandra:

Would you PLEASE help me? My mother is a former English major and is very traditional when it comes to punctuation and grammar.

When she reads things I have written, she is mortified. She thinks that my tone is too casual (I’m running a business and trying to attract customers) and that my grammar makes me sound like an idiot.

We have had more than one nasty fight and misunderstanding, especially when it comes to my use of commas.

Is there a trick you use for when and where to use commas, or something I can say to her that might put her mind at ease?

– Meg

 
 

Meg:

I think you (and everybody else reading this) know that this question isn’t really about “commas.”

It’s not really about punctuation or grammar at all.

I think the question you’re really asking is:
 

What is a “good” writer, anyway?

 

And secondarily:
 

How can I convince my mom that I am one?

 

I can’t really help you with the second question, because the truth is, your style of writing may NEVER resonate with your mom.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re not a good writer.

And here’s why:

 

The whole “point” of writing is to inspire your reader to FEEL, KNOW or DO something. (Sometimes, all three.)

 

If you’re writing an erotic novel, you want your reader to FEEL turned on, titillated and excited.

If you’re writing a guidebook to help folks set up a simple website on a budget, you want your reader to KNOW how to, well, set up a simple website on a budget.

If you’re writing a passionate speech about how women are not paid equally + fairly for their work, you want your reader to DO something about that problem. Like hold a round-table discussion with their employer. Or call up a local government leader + demand progressive action.

 

If your readers are FEELING, KNOWING and DOING what you want them to FEEL, KNOW and DO, then … congratulations! YOU are a good writer.

 

It’s as simple as that.

Now, if your spelling is so atrocious that it’s impossible for your reader to grasp what they’re supposed to be feeling, knowing and doing … that’s a problem.

If you write in long, rambling whirlwinds that lack focus + purpose and trail off to nowhere-land … that’s a problem.

If you use words incorrectly because you don’t know their definitions … that’s a problem.

But if you insert an extra comma here or there to indicate a “pause” or a conversational “breath” … or if you make certain words appear in all CAPS for extra emphasis … or if you start sentences with the word “And…” because it just feels right … even though it’s not technically grammatically correct … in my opinion?

 

That is not a problem.

 

If those stylistic choices make it EASIER for your reader to FEEL, KNOW and DO what you want them to FEEL, KNOW and DO, then they are not “mistakes.” They are a GOOD thing.

So go forth, Meg, and write the way that you naturally think + speak.

Write from the hut — heart + gut — extra commas and all.

 

As long as you are getting the kind of RESPONSE that you want and feel UNDERSTOOD — it’s all GOOD.

 

It’s your INTENT that shines through.

I’m sure that, in time, even your momma will see that, too.

No, matter, how, many, commas, you, use.

xo.

PS. Moms are awesome + are usually right about everything. But not always. If your mom is still fussing + fretting about your “casual” use of language, tell her to watch THIS.

PPS. Do YOU have any little writing “quirks” that drive certain people crazy? What do you say to yourself when faced with criticism?

 
 

7 guidelines for writing emails that people actually want to read.

 
 

Whenever you place your fingers on the keyboard, you have an opportunity to add to the love in the world or subtract from it.

You have an opportunity to lift someone’s spirits — or sink them.

You have a chance to get what you need while giving — or get what you need while taking.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a text message to a friend, popping off a note to a colleague or filling out a form on the Internet.

Eventually, your words will reach a living, breathing, feeling human being.

Eventually, your words will land and leave a mark.

So: when it comes to your next text, post, tweet or email …

The question is simple:

 
Do you want to be an Adder or a Subtractor?
 

I imagine that you want to be an Adder. Most people do.

It’s pretty simple to do.

Just treat people’s time like it is the most precious resource on earth.

These 7 guidelines might help:

 


 

1. Get right to the point.

“Life is short, so I’ll hop to the point. I’m writing today because…”

 

2. Include ONE big idea per email.

Just one invitation, request, question or call to action.

“The big thing I’d love you to know is…”
Or: “The one piece that I need from you right now is…”

 

3. Honor the three-sentence rule.

If you can’t express yourself in three sentences or less, maybe you ought to pick up the phone, record an audio note, or spend a little more time thinking about what you really want to say.

 

4. Use statements, not open-ended questions.

This: “I think ___________ is best. If you agree, write back to say YES and I’ll proceed…”

Not this: “So … what do YOU think?”

 

5. Be unexpectedly generous.

“Hey, I made this for you…”
“This might be helpful…”
“You mentioned that you needed __________, so I went ahead and did that…”

 

6. Be unexpectedly kind.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” –The Dalai Lama

 

7. Whenever possible, end with the most beautiful words on earth:

“No response needed.”

Or, similarly: “No action required. Just wanted to let you know.”

 


 

Brevity is sexy + kindness is even sexier.

Happy writing. Happy Adding.

That is all.

xo.

 
 

Wondering what to write on that Mother’s Day card? A script to help you speak from the heart.

 
 
 

Dear Mom,

When you [had me / adopted me], you were ___ years old.
 
And when I moved out of the house to start my grown-up life, you were ___ years old.
 
That means you spent ___ minutes* of your life raising me, feeding me, clothing me, sheltering me, fussing over me, worrying about me, and basically, being the #1 source of support in my world. (Even if I didn’t always appreciate it, at the time.)
 
*Use the Time Duration Calculator to tabulate the number of minutes for your mama.
 
Given all that you’ve done for me, there’s no way that I could possibly thank you enough.
 
But I’m going to try.
 
I’d like to give you ___ minutes of [bliss / relaxation / peace + quiet / laughter / beauty / adventure / nourishment / help around the house] with a [massage from your favorite spa / gift certificate from TaskRabbit / ticket to join me at an amazing workshop / decadent brunch prepared by me, dishes + clean-up included].
 
It’s not much. But it’s a start. I hope it gives you an oh-so happy heart.
 
Thank you for being my mom — for all that you’ve done, and all that you continue to do.
 
I love the person that I’ve grown up to be, and I wouldn’t have the life that I’ve got without your love, care and support.
 
Happy Mother’s Day.
 
Love,
 
Your Awesome Kid
 
(Seriously, I’m SO awesome! You did SUCH a good job raising me!)