More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Give yourself permission to…

Selfie at Indie Author Day 2018Welcome to all of you who found this site from my flyer at Indie Author Day. My site has plenty of tips on writing and public speaking, but I want to give you the most important tip of all.

Take care of your health.

When we are creating, working, or dealing with our other responsibilities, health is the last thing we think about. But you can’t do any of these things when you’re sick, exhausted, or lacking in energy.

We also need to consider mental health (which isn’t separate from physical health). The “tortured artist” is a stereotype and a dangerous one at that. Depression, anxiety, and other issues hamper our productivity, not enhance it. Therapy and medication don’t take away our creativity, but it can help us exercise it. (To learn more, see this video by Jenna Moreci.)

Taking care of my health is a lesson I continue to struggle to learn. But I’ve found one phrase that helps, “give yourself permission to.” Here are some ways to use this.

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The villain’s journey

Caricature of a villain (image from Wikipedia)I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. It has been a while since I finished a novel, and I need to get another book going. I have a story in mind, but I have to approach it differently from the other novels I’ve written. This time, I’m focusing on the villain’s journey.

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Why I love writing fiction

Front cover for The Remainders, available on InkittTechnical writing is my bread and butter, but I love fiction writing. As a child, I enjoyed making up stories and creating adventures for my GI Joe and Major Matt Mason action figures. As I started writing, my Holy Grail was to write The Great American Novel, make the New York Times bestseller list, get the seven-figure movie deal, and be included in literature textbooks for generations to come (except in the six states and nine countries where my books are banned).

As I got older, I had to temper my love of fiction writing with reality.

Non-fiction is an easy sell. These books address a specific need, like learning to give impromptu talks. Success can be easily measured. Is the information correct? Can someone complete a task, solve a problem, or answer a question using the book?

Fiction is a harder sell. What need does a story fill? And how do you measure success?

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The joys of technical writing

A collection of early technical manualsBefore I started in the computer industry in 1983, I had never heard of technical writing. I found out about it from a job listing at the CSUN Career Center. As I got into the field, I discovered how much I liked it. The career combines two things I enjoy: writing and working with the latest gadgets.

This year marks my 35th anniversary in the computer industry and 15th at my employer. I’d like to share with you the joys I found in technical writing.

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Don’t be desperate

If you want to turn off an audience, the quickest way to do it is through desperation. So why do I see so much desperation in advertisements these days? Here are some examples of emails that I received and promptly deleted. Emphasis is from the original.

“This could not get any worse, Matthew…[W]ith less than 12 hours until our FINAL deadline before the primary, [our candidate] is falling DANGEROUSLY short of his goal and what we need to win.”

“I hate to be so blunt: but if 62 [people] don’t chip in tonight, we will miss our August fundraising goal…and struggle to survive through November.”

“Right now, that means making sure we reach our critical goal before midnight – and we’re still $107,124 short. So please, before you go to bed tonight, Matthew, I want to personally ask: Can I count on you to donate?…

It’s not just politics. I scheduled a service appointment at my car dealership, and I’m getting bombarded with phone calls, texts, and emails from the dealership asking if I can talk to a sales associate about buying a new car. Even when I told them this is for a routine service visit for a car I just bought, I’m still getting urgent messages.

Why is desperation such a turn off, and what should you do instead?

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