Writing Tips from The New York Times Bestsellers Author Daniel Pink
He wrote 7 best-selling books. Now he shares his secrets with you.
Last Tuesday, I completed a short course on writing. It’s a Hubspot academy course. HubSpot has a wide range of courses. This particular course caught my eye because it is trained by the New York Times bestsellers author Daniel H. Pink.
I put all his tips from the course in this blog post as a summary. You can enroll in the course and learn more about the tips in detail. But if you don’t have time to spend on the course, you will find my summary helpful. I wrote the key points only in short points, this will save you time.
Happy learning. Happy Writing.
Who is Daniel Pink?
Daniel is an American author. He’s written seven books, five of which have become New York Times bestsellers. The 2014 National Geographic Channel social science TV series Crowd Control featured him as a host and co-executive producer. He worked for Vice President Al Gore as a speechwriter from 1995 to 1997. His written titles include When, To Sell is Human, Drive, and A Whole New Mind.
I found his writings interesting, so I took the course. Check him out if you like reading non-fiction writing.
Become a Better Writer With Daniel Pink: Lesson Overview From Hubspot
“It doesn’t matter what your role is: Every single role in business requires good writing skills. In this lesson, you’ll learn essential writing skills from Daniel Pink, the author of four New York Times bestselling books. This lesson covers Pink’s top writing tips that will help you write content that is interesting and easy to follow, flows well, and makes a lasting impact on your reader. This lesson also covers how to establish the right writing environment, what a good first draft looks like, how to write impactful introductions and conclusions that draw readers in and make them think, and how to insert effective navigational tools like headers; that help guide your readers through your content.”
My Summary: Become a Better Writer
Writing is an essential skill in business. Writing helps you pursue people for anything. Writing also helps you figure out what you think.
Writing is a form of thinking.
Prewriting Strategies With Daniel Pink
There are 3 steps of writing -
- Pre-writing- In this stage, you do your research, collect ideas and measure them for your next writing.
- Writing — You start writing, this is your first draft. It is crucial. After completing your first draft, the following process is simple and easy.
- Editing- You wrote your first draft; now it is time to edit it. Editing can be a hectic process, but it can be smooth if you follow the right process. Go through everything in the draft, and throw away parts you don’t like.
The process is not always linear.
Embrace the messiness and unpredictability of the writing process.
Developing great Ideas:
Good writing comes from collecting great ideas. But how can you collect great ideas? Read, read and read. And collect everything you like or get curious about in your notes, notion or Evernote. Write down anywhere.
Here are 3 steps to great ideas:
1. Collect all ideas
2. Revisit & pinpoint the best ones
3. Tease out the ideas that stand the test of time
Keep idea files anywhere. Collect every idea.
The best way to collect great ideas is:
“You have to have that yearning to collect and the discipline to revisit and filter.”
“Look at it like dating.”
Treat ideas like dates. If you are in love with an idea, you’ll love to go date with it? Are you ready to in marriage with the idea? Do you want to commit yourself to the idea and write an article or an ebook, spending one week or months?
If the answer is YES, then it is a great idea.
The other way to validate ideas is to review them with your friends or family.
Pass ideas to others for review. Watch their body language. How do they react to ideas one by one?
When others are interested in the ideas, they will become curious and suggest new things for you. Lean into that idea.
“Collaboration is an important part of the ideation process. Make sure to vet that with your audience.”
The research process:
Content that is well researched and uses high-quality sources stands out. But how can you do good research?
“What is abundant in the world today are opinions. What is scarce is substance. Backing. Evidence.”
Research before you begin the outline. It will help you figure out your outline. Do the primary outline and get back to research for each section.
It is better to stay flexible and let yourself learn and grow during the research process. Always remember:
“Quality trumps quantity when it comes to research.”
Reach out to experts. Do not hesitate to contact people who are experts in the field. Most times, they are happy to help you because not many people contact researchers for their opinion. If you are going to contact an expert, follow these instructions:
1. Keep your message brief and professional.
2. Identify yourself and what you’re trying to learn.
3. Ask specific questions.
Make sure facts back your writing. Credible writings can quickly pursue others. Always do proper citation. And always add credible information in your writing.
You have to remember:
“Credibility is easy to destroy and difficult to rehabilitate.”
You need some kind of outline to start writing.
Without any kind of map, you are lost. Your outlines are your map.
It helps you identify gaps in your research and prevent you from getting stuck. Outlines make it easy to categorize your main points.
Outlines will also help you to do more research while writing. You can add more sections to your outline if you find you are missing something.
Do enough research to get started. Then start writing.
Become a better writer with Daniel Pink:
Establishing the right writing environment for better writing is the first thing you should do. Some people prefer a quiet place, some noisy place.
There is no one “right” writing environment. You have to find the one that’s best for you.
Find the environment, then find your process.
Unfortunately, there is no proper process. It solely depends on you.
How do you prefer writing?
Find out the ANSWER.
Some people prefer writing in the morning, some at night. Find out what is suitable for you. Merge your environment with your writing process for better results.
Give yourself a number — a word count.
Don’t do anything before hitting the number.
Commit to writing a certain number of words every day. It will help you to achieve positive results.
Writing is like brick-laying.
Treat that word count as a brick. When you put a brick every day, you will get a finished brick wall at the end of the week.
“Many forces in the universe are conspiring for you not to show up.”
I know it is hard to stay consistent. But you have to be a soldier. You have to do it consistently.
“The key of writing is putting your butt in the chair.”
But you should also remember:
“Habits are necessary to consistent performance, but too much of the same can stifle your imagination.”
It is not wrong to take a break once in a while.
The pain of writing the first draft:
When you write the first draft, “Write as well as you can and in as much detail as possible.”
If writing well or in detail slows you down, don’t stop to fix it. Keep going. You can do the fix later in your editing time.
Instead, make a note of it — and move on.
Getting out the first draft is the hardest part of the whole process. Sometimes it feels like a headache. In most cases, the first draft is not the final piece; it is the start of editing, reviewing and refining again and again.
Your goal should be to finish the first draft and then go through the content and review the outline and improve the piece.
Getting the first draft out is the beginning of a much more fun part of writing.
Writing impactful introduction & conclusion:
Every content has 3 sections -
Hook your readers in, get them curious, and prove why your writing content is worth reading in your introduction.
Explain why the problem you are going to solve in the content is a problem in the first place and how that affects your readers.
Start your content by telling a story. People love reading stories.
In your content body, explain the solutions, in brief, what you introduced in the introduction. Use bullets and numbers.
Use navigational tools like headers and subheaders in your body. It will help readers to know where they are what they are reading.
The header (H1) & subheader (H2) are important if you write online. It helps with search engine optimization.
For Conclusion — you want people to stop and linger a little bit. You don’t want to move them with their life for a moment after reading your content. You can do these:
1. Use a turn of phrase
2. Use a quotation
3. Don’t wrap the story up perfectly
Be intentional about how your writing ends. Make them wonder what is going to happen next!
Top writing tips from Daniel Pink:
1. Practice — write, write, write. Make writing like breathing air. Consistency is the key to good writing.
2. Read a lot — Read everything.
Don’t just read from your interest. Read other topics to develop different perspectives.
Save notes. Go through the collection frequently. You will get inspiration from others writing.
Be a diagnostician
Read your favorite writers and learn how they write their best work. Reverse engineer their best writings. How they are using this word, that sentence or how they convey such topics. Learn, learn and learn.
Here is the 3rd tip:
“You will never be good enough. You will never get it perfect because there is no perfection in writing.”
Accept this truth. Move on. Hit publish. Share your writings with the world.
Editing & Proofreading with Daniel Pink:
The secret to good writing is editing.
You can’t be perfect in your first draft, no matter how talented you are. I can’t do that; you can’t do that. All we can do is edit the first draft and make it better. Here is the process:
- Complete first draft
- send for review
A guide to self-editing:
Self-editing is easy when you know what to do.
When you are self-editing, look for these common pitfalls:
1. Too thin
2. Too boring
3. Too repetitious
Suppose your writing has these problems; you have to edit out thin, boring or repetitious parts.
Get rid of words if these do not move your writing forward and are repetitive.
“you have to kill your darlings.”
3 tips for self-editing :
1. Take a break before you start. Do not start editing right after finished writing. Give it some time to stay alive in your mind.
2. Make sure formatting is consistent.
3. Read the piece out loud. You will know where to edit instantly. It is a different experience. It will help you learn more about your writing.
Ask for feedback:
After self-edit, ask for others’ feedback. Become confident to share your work with others and become criticized.
“You need to sit there and suffer.”
Look for constructive and positive feedback from others.
Ask them tough questions like — what part do you think is unnecessary? Which part do you believe should be removed?
Choosing the right title:
It’s much more important to get feedback on your titles than on any other aspect of the writing. Do not rush the titles.
Titles play a significant role in helping your reader choose to click, read and buy. You can write great content, but if your title is not great, your content will get passed by others.
“Coming up with titles is part art and part science.”
Choose the title in 70 characters so it does not cut off in search results.
Measuring your writing success:
Always measure your writing success. Defining success will help you discover insights into what your audience responds to.
Here are 6 focus areas for tracking & measuring content:
Focus on the hard metrics and pay attention to those softer, qualitative metrics. How many people are commenting on your writings, and how many are emailing you after reading your writings? These are softer metrics.
Daniel Pink is an exciting writer. I found his tips helpful. From pre-writing to finishing a draft, self-editing to review by others, these tips can help you write the best content every day. But ultimately, one tip you should take from the course (as I took) is to practice more, practice writing every day. Only writing regularly can make you a better writer. If you have ideas, put them into words and share them with the world. That’s it!
Love this blog? Follow me for more. I am regularly sharing my knowledge in my medium blog for free! You don’t have to pay me a cent!