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Wally Bock

Ah, my friend, what a marvelous post about the art and craft of writing a business book.

I believe the people who count themselves as business writers have two things in common. We enjoy wrestling with the angels of meaning. It's hard, but gratifying, work to take a concept from one mind, sharpen and improve it and pass it along to another mind.

Real business writers also finish things. Those things might be books or articles or blog posts or reports, but they get done. It's the moral equivalent of that quote attributed to Steve Jobs: "Real artists ship."

When I work with people who have something to say but who lack the time or enthusiasm for the actual writing, those are two things that I bring to the table. I also get to be the standard bearer for what makes great business writing.

Great business writing delivers usable insight. If the reader can't take away something that makes a difference in their life, it doesn't matter if the book is a best seller or the blog post gets a gazillion retweets.

Great business writing respects facts and research and evidence like good academic writing. It's amazing how often something that "everyone knows" or that has been used as an example for decades turns out to be false.

Great business writing also tells stories effectively. Human beings have used stories to make sense of complex issues since we first began using language and business is a wonderful source of stories.


Red Smith, the greatest sports writer of all time, said something like "writing is easy, you just open up a vein and bleed."


You have impeccable timing, Bob. I was coming to feel that I was the only one who suffered nearly physical pain when trying to get started!

And, you hit - bang on - with respect to two things that have been a continual challenge for me too: maintaining voice and 'improving' my titles. As someone who has only been writing seriously for a short time, it is great to know that it's ok to stand up for my own work.

I'd rather fail with my own voice (and titles - oh God, those titles) than succeed with another's.

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