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✍🏻 Course Creators Weekly #74 🗓 December 6th, 2021 - Writing Well with Julian Shapiro

This week, I'm sharing Julian Shapiro's guide to writing, and also tell you why I had to take a break from writing this newsletter! 🙈

Writing Well Writing Well

Writing Well

Julian Shapiro's guide to writing has 5 pages of densely packed insights that was tough to summarise, and I understand why! One of Julian's key writing goals is succinctness, and it shows. Every word has earned its place in his guide, making my job very hard! 😅

Here are a few general tips before we get into Julian's step-by-step writing process:

  • 🔁
    Write in iterations
  • 🤯
    Write your first draft for novelty only—something new and worthwhile
  • 🎭
    Add stories, analogies, examples and an authentic voice to make your writing resonate

Choose a topic

  • 🧐
    Write about what you can't stop thinking about
  • 🤩
    Choose your objective and take note of what's motivating you—create conviction

Write an intro

  • 🪝
    Write your intro to introduce what readers are about to read + hook them into reading
  • 🤔
    Create a Curiosity Gap with an intriguing question, a half-told story or a surprising fact
  • 😯
    Give readers enough context to care about your hook—make it resonate
  • 🤨
    Think about what people may be sceptical about—tackle those points in your intro
  • 👍
    Ask people in your inner circle to score your intro before writing the rest—and iterate

Write your first draft

  • ⛳️
    Pick an objective to focus your thinking and reveal what your writing must accomplish
  • 📋
    Identify your key talking points (your outline), then brain dump partially formed ideas
  • 〰️
    Aim to write a messy first draft for YOU, and fast—just get garbage onto the page
  • 😮
    Write for novelty first—interesting or surprising ideas that keep people reading
  • ⏭
    Skip anything that bores you—if it bores you, it probably bores your readers too
  • ⬜️
    Use placeholders any time you're stuck—save the hard parts for future drafts
  • 🤡
    Imitate if you have to—optimise for speed over originality just to get the ball rolling
  • 🦋
    Don't be constrained by your outline—let your curiosity lead you to your best ideas

Rewrite your draft

  • 💎
    Rewrite to turn your messy draft into a clear, concise, and intriguing piece of writing
  • 💬
    Use simple language, with examples and counterexamples to make your writing clear
  • ✂️
    Rewrite sections from memory, then remove filler words and rephrase for succinctness
  • 🍩
    Deliberately mix in novel insights + frequent dopamine hits—use feedback to find them
  • 🌟
    Remember the peak-end rule: people will judge your writing by its peak, and its ending
  • 🏔
    Condense your most insightful/surprising points into a single section to build that peak

On getting feedback

  • 🔟
    Ask your audience for specific feedback on your drafts—ask them to score it from 1–10
  • 👌🏾
    Iterate your way to a "good enough" score—for Julian, it's 7.5–9 (10 is unrealistic)
  • 👁
    Get feedback from your future self by revisiting after a break or in a new environment

On writing style

  • 🗣
    Write the way you talk to a friend—be authentic, not a copycat
  • 🌈
    Use metaphors and vivid imagery to engage your readers' imaginations
  • 🤣
    Add images, stories, and anecdotes to make your writing resonate

On becoming a writer

  • 🥰
    Write to fall in love with interesting ideas, not to build a writing habit
  • 💠
    Start writing before you have a fully formed idea—let the dots connect while you write
  • 🧐
    Explore your own interests instead of trying to guess what your readers want
  • 🗑
    Learn to love REwriting—it's the only way to enjoy writing
  • 🔨
    Break the rules—there's no right way to write

Check out the full guide for more actionable steps, frameworks, examples, Julian's's own summaries, and a cheatsheet that I find more helpful than my own summary! 😅👇🏻

🔗 Julian Shapiro via julian.com

I skipped sending CCW for TWO weeks, because I wasn't in a good place, mentally! 😬

2021 has been a tough one for me and my family. I want to remind us all that it's OK to let go sometimes. I thought I'd regret losing my 73-week streak, but it turns out, I really don't.

Here's a question I encourage you to ask yourself:

  • ❓
    What's the point of venturing out on our own, just to let a calendar control our lives?!

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Hey, I'm Merott 👋🏻

I'm an indie maker and freelance web developer from London.

I'm building my own business, because I'm terrible at following other people, and because I want my work to matter. I hope it will, to you and to your students.

Making progress, slowly and steadily, I'm also documenting and tweeting my journey every Monday @merott .

Thanks for visiting!

Merott