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How To Write Stories About Your Business

You’ve heard it once. You’ve heard it a million times. You’ve got to tell stories. 
And now Forbes is forecasting that “great storytelling” and “less reliance on data” will shape the marketing futures for small businesses this year. 
So. You’re on board. You've accepted that storytelling can help you grow your business and reach your ideal customers. And you're ready to dive in. But there’s just one problem: when it comes to your business, where do great stories come from? And which stories should you tell? 

Stories are All Around Us  

The truth is stories are everywhere. In fact, this is the very worldview professional storytellers hold and use to find stories worth sharing. 
Margot Leitman, the author of Long Story Short and Moth Grand Slam Champion, believes the problem with finding good stories originates from our actions and our awareness. Leitman argues that as we age we...
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Create an Atomic Writing Habit

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book but never made it past the first few pages, this article is for you. It's also for you if you write for work but often procrastinate. And this message is for you, if you think writing might help provide meaning and clarity to your life. In other words, when it comes to writing, this article is for the avoiders, the procrastinators, and the dreamers of the world. 
In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he explores how simple changes can create profound impact in our lives. The problem, as Clear sees it, is our ambition causes us to shoot for the stars. 
A simple way of understanding Clear's premise is to consider a common goal like wanting to drink more water. Even though you're starting out with an average of drinking less than two glasses per day, you set your mark at 60 ounces of water. Every day.
When you fail, you have all sorts of reasons why it didn’t work—you just don’t like...
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Where Do All the Lost Words Go?

Linguists tell us that language comes from the words people actually use. And while my Southern English teachers scolded us for any sentences that included ‘ain’t’—they seemed to ignore the reality that the word itself could be found in Webster’s. But as new words enter the language and with only so much space in a dictionary, what happens to the words we use less? 
In Brain Pickings article “The Lost Words,” we learn the disheartening news that recent additions to the English language, including modern terms like broadband and cut n paste, have contributed to the loss of a multitude of words that describe nature. Lovely words like fern and starling no longer appear in the pages of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary, and despite complaints from writers and parents, no changes have been accepted. 
If we’ve learned something from our shared history of the world, it’s that there’s more than one way...
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Is Listening to Audiobooks Really Reading?

In my last quarter of undergraduate school, I took a final required class: Applied Linguistics. I had no idea what to expect, but proceeded to have my mind blown. From learning how young children can’t use irregular grammar until they've reach a marked developmental milestone [He 'taked' the ball from me] to discovering that linguists had written some of my favorite books [dictionaries], each class was a marvel.
But when Professor Childs taught us that our brains don’t really “see” the words in our mind when we read, I raised my hand. “Professor,” I said. “I alway see the words." He was a very smart and eccentric man. He’d done research all over the world, even documented languages never before written. And he didn’t mind correcting me that ‘no,' I did not see words when I read. Perhaps I imagined I did, he said, but “we” know that people don’t really “see” letters but identify words as...
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Why Writing About Your Life Has the Power to Change It

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you could start over? 
Or maybe you’re the kind of person who admits regret but wouldn’t change a thing. 
While each day offers us an opportunity to restart our lives, unfortunately we don’t get do-overs…
Except when it comes to writing. 
In fact, the word revision actually means to see again. And if you pause long enough to consider its meaning, you’ve actually performed the word's intent. Here, you see a familiar word, a word with connotations related to writing [and pain] and next you add another layer of meaning. 
In writing, the capacity to see the stories that make up your life again has enormous implications. What happens when we look at our lives not just critically but with imagination? 
What happens when we say to ourselves “I thought I was headed this way, but I ended up going another way” or...
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How to Get After Your Next Writing Project

When I taught college writing courses, almost no one enrolled willingly. Whether it was required for their major or expected on their transcript for graduate school, many of my undergraduate students would have been quite happy to skip a composition course altogether. And with classes called College Writing or Research Writing or Advanced Writing, who could really blame them? 
Over the years, however, I noticed an interesting trend among the truly motivated. The students who admitted, even at the cost of their social currency, they wanted to become better writers generally had two reasons: 
  1. They would imminently face an important writing project. 
  2. They were graduating, and although they were almost ‘college educated,’ they felt their communication skills were poor. 
Both groups were dealing with as much fear and dread as the uninterested students, but they’d decided that becoming a better writer would make their lives easier and...
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Why Your Journal is Not Your Diary

If you were lucky as a child you had one of those fancy diaries, engraved with mysterious symbology, and fastened with a very important feature: a lock. 
And not just anyone could open that diary—only the one who had the key. That way no one else could know your secrets, your sins, your confessions, your hopes, or your dreams. 
Sound dramatic? Welcome to the inner world of a child who one day would grow up to become a writer. 
But back to you. 
If you [this time I really do mean you, not me] ever had or wanted a diary as child, you’ll remember the connotation of secrecy. After all, that was part of the fun. Key information documented about yourself for yourself
It’s tempting to see the daily practice of journal writing as the same as writing in a diary. After all, it is a private place to record your thoughts. And if you’ve ever had a fight or even a misunderstanding, it really is a great place to...
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The Problem with Stories

Why can’t Harry Potter just go to Hogwarts when he receives his acceptance letter?

Why can’t Dorothy get back home to Kansas?

Why don’t the townsfolk believe the little boy who cried wolf?  

Even after two degrees in English literature, it wasn’t until my oldest son started 1st grade that I really understood stories. One morning when I visited his classroom, his teacher very simply laid out for her students the following little gem: 
Every story has a problem. 
Now this statement might seem obvious to you but when you begin to examine the story’s problem, or more specifically the main character's problem, that’s when the story gets interesting. 
In a good book or movie, everything from character growth to plot development to theme revolves around the problem. 
For instance, Harry can’t go to Hogwarts because his aunt and uncle forbid him. What does he do in response? That’s...
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How Writing Fast Tricks Your Inner Critic

These days most composition looks like whatever we write on a computer or touchscreen.
But what if I asked you to think way back. Back to the days when you learned to write by hand in school. What do you remember?
Is it the fat lines with the dotted center? The repetition of letter after letter? Or maybe it's the hand cramps? For me, I think about the callous on my right ring finger and the way I [still] rub it to help me sort left from right. Oh and possibly the way handwriting practice seemed to take forever! 
But then one day I learned cursive—the holy grail of writing fast! In fact, it may have been the undoing of all of my careful handwriting practice. But the speed! The efficiency! 
From print to cursive to eventual paragraphs, then book reports, research projects, essays, and more, our ‘writing’ education developed from the act of putting letters on a page to the activity of making sense out of words. And for almost...
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Word to Your Mother: 5 Ways to Grow a Vibrant Vocabulary

Are you hungry? According to Susan Engel, a developmental psychologist and educator, curiosity is an appetite. And yet hunger is likely the most essential ingredient for acquiring and utilizing new words. In my required college writing classes, I routinely asked students about their personal goals. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, college students often listed ‘improving their vocabulary’ as a goal.

From classrooms to cocktail parties, this topic seems to find me. There are the word nerds like myself, who find the discussion of Latin roots titillating, and the word wishers, who regret they cannot recall the plethora of the words they once crammed into their brains for the SAT. And there are even the word alarmists, who fear that emoticons and text vernacular are replacing lucid expression.

What the party goers and college students (sometimes they are one and the same) have in common is that they are hungry for new ways to grow their word bank. But according...

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