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E-Book Testimonials

"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 

"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"

“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com

“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 

Entries by Thomas Clifford (309)


Write Faster with Sporadic Writing

500 puzzle pieces are staring you in the face.
What do you do?

Put the puzzle together in order, top to bottom?
Or put the puzzle together sporadically?

If you’re lucky, you can start at the top and put the puzzle in order.
But, then again, you might not be so lucky.

Building your puzzle out of order, or sporadically, might be a better option

Of course, the same concept applies to writing your content. If you’re stuck writing in order, top to bottom, it’s time to play a little trick with your brain.

It’s time to write sporadically.

What do you mean, write “sporadically?”
We often associate “sporadic” to mean being “scattered,” “spotty” and “occurring occasionally.”

The Medieval Latin word “sporadic” means, “scattered like a seed” and “sow.”

This is interesting.

If we write sporadically, it means we can “scatter” and “sow” our words into our content. We don’t have to start in some magical place like the beginning. We don’t have to write in “order,” from top to bottom.

We can begin writing where we feel like writing. In other words, we can write sporadically.

Why bother writing sporadically?
Writing sporadically is liberating.

Instead of staring at the top of the page waiting for inspiration to take over, you start writing anywhere. There’s no pressure to think, “Now I have to write starting here.” You begin writing where you are moved to write; the end, the middle, the beginning.

And when you can begin writing anywhere, you have speed. You have momentum.

So how do you begin writing sporadically?
You begin writing sporadically wherever you feel the pull. Is the pull:
• In the ending?
• In the opening?
• In the three steps you want your reader to take?

If you have a rough outline of what you want to say, write what strikes you at the moment. Think “random;” there is no right or wrong place to start.
• You can write a sentence here.
• You can write a sentence there.
• Yup, you can write a sentence anywhere.

When is a good time to write sporadically?
A good time to write sporadically is when you feel sluggish, not thinking clearly or if you feel under pressure.

If it doesn’t feel orderly
You’d certainly be right about feeling that way.

If you try writing sporadically for a few weeks, you’ll discover a moment when you feel “lighter” about the demands of writing.

For example
I wrote my article “Why Precise Email Subject Lines are Like Diamonds” sporadically. I used an outline but I found myself filling in the areas here, there, and um, everywhere over time.

In summary, writing sporadically is:
1. Liberating. You don’t have to struggle with order.
2. Random. It provides your brain a bigger playground to express itself in.
3. Speedy. You write as ideas come to you.

The next time you’re stuck writing an assignment, try writing sporadically.

You just might find it easier than putting that 500-piece puzzle together.

PS. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with the "Share Article" button below. Thanks.


Thinking of Blogging? Freewriting Makes it Easy

Have you ever heard music so amazing your brain, um, stops thinking?

I have.

Just listen to Neil Peart’s drumming.

Canadian rockers Rush have counted on Neil’s drumming to be their musical backbone for almost 40 years.

But there’s one thing most people don’t’ know about Neil

Neil prepares for every concert by practicing his chops for 30 minutes.
Every. Single. Concert.

His practice routine isn’t legendary but his shows in front of 30,000 fans are.

I know. You’re not Neil Peart and you’re not performing for 30,000 fans.

You just want to get on with your blogging.

But, hey, this practicing thing Neil does can apply to “soon-to-be-bloggers,” too.

Did you know you can “warm up” your blogging skills by practicing first?
How do you practice writing for your blog?

You practice writing for your blog by freewriting.

What do you mean, “freewriting?”
Freewriting is “thinking onto paper.” That’s what writer and positioning strategist, Mark Levy says. Mark should know. He wrote a book on the power of freewriting.

Think of freewriting as “free form” writing.

If you think you can’t write something on the more formal side of things, just start free forming it.

Write whatever comes to mind. You don’t need a goal or a reason to write. Just write whatever you’re thinking. Cool, huh?

So why is freewriting helpful for bloggers-to-be?
Blogging involves lots of writing. Freewriting boosts your confidence in your writing skills. Saying you will start blogging is a mighty goal. Heck, you’ll get that blog registered in five minutes, and then what? Stare at a blank screen? Yup. It happens. A lot.

How do you beat staring at your new shiny blog all day long?
Chunk down the blogging process.

Chunk down the blogging process. There’s no reason to go all-out at once. Warm yourself up to the new art of blogging through the old art of freewriting. This way, you won’t “freeze” when your blog goes live.

What prevents most people from starting to blog?
Often, it’s the fear of writing.

Sure, some folks fear the “technology factor.” But not having the confidence to write is an even bigger fear. Freewriting “warms up” your writing because the trick in freewriting is to write quickly!

How quickly should you write?
Mark Levy has a great way to think about this.

If you normally write at 5 mph, freewrite at 6 mph.

You want to write fast enough so you don’t think about editing your words. Perfection ain’t what you’re after. What you’re after is boosting your writing confidence.

OK. Let’s get this show on the road
To get started freewriting, all you need is some paper and a pen. A computer is fine, if you prefer it to paper. If you have a timer, you’ll find that helpful as well.

Set the timer for 10 minutes.

Hit “start” and begin writing. Don’t worry about that inner voice you hear that says “this is stupid,” “what should I say next?” and all that jazz.

The object is to blitz through those objections
And get into the habit of writing. If you enjoy the practice, you can extend the time to 15 or 20 minutes.

Besides boosting your writing confidence levels, you’ll reap the added benefit of generating ideas for your blog. Heh.

You might say this whole freewriting thing is for the birds
“Hey, who cares about freewriting? I just want to get my blog cookin’.”

Many bloggers create a blog then quit. Quitting frequently happens from a lack of confidence and a lack of ideas. Freewriting addresses both of these concerns.

Blogging is a snap with freewriting
Freewriting is a lost technique that soon-to-be bloggers can recover to increase their writing confidence. Freewriting is:
- Free
- Fast
- Intuitive
- Private
- Confidence building
- A great way to build up a reservoir of ideas for future blog articles

Go ahead and pretend you’re a rock star. Just remember to practice before you hit the stage.

For more tips on freewriting, check out my Mark Levy interview on solving problems with freewriting.


Why Precise Email Subject Lines are Like Diamonds 

Imagine a diamond.
Not any old diamond, mind you.
But a diamond with irregular, jagged, pitted edges.

Would you buy a diamond that wasn’t cut precisely?

Without that factor of preciseness, a diamond is practically worthless.

This factor of preciseness also applies to your email subject lines
A precisely written email subject line is highly valuable to your reader.

But wait a sec. Precise subject lines are not what you see 99% of the time.

Which makes you wonder.

What do 90% of email subject lines look like?
Most email subject lines are too broad, nonspecific and general– they lack any kind of description. Most email subject lines you read are, um, b-o-r-i-n-g, forgettable and yes, often worthless.

Have you seen these generic subject lines?
“Next meeting.”
“Proposal feedback”
“Meeting minutes”

Subject lines like these leave the receiver of your message wondering what the heck your email is really about. Communicating messages that create doubt or guessing games in your reader’s mind weakens the chance of having your message acted on.

Your email subject line is no different. As a matter of fact, your subject line can sometimes make or break the success of your communications.

Why bother making your subject line valuable?
It creates value. Creating value in your subject lines has three benefits:

1. It creates a trigger; making your communication more memorable.
2. It creates action; delivering results in a timely manner.
3. It is easily searchable; allowing easier access to recall and act on your message in the future.

Of course, you can only reap these benefits once you know the single “trick” in writing your subject line.

What’s the trick in writing a valuable subject line?
Be precise.

The more precise and specific you are, the more valuable and actionable your email becomes. So go ahead and add a specific detail or two in your subject lines. Or ask a question to generate curiosity and action.

Creating precise subject lines takes your message from “ho-hum” to “attention getting.”

Then there’s the problem you don’t think your email is valuable
Hey, you’d rather just fire off an email with a nondescript subject line in a nanosecond rather than take a few seconds to write something precise.

Which subject lines are more valuable?
“Next meeting” or:
“6/15 staff meeting: Customer testimonials needed. Bring three ideas.”

“Proposal feedback” or:
“Read last 2 proposal paragraphs: approve or change by 8/18.”

“Meeting minutes” or:
“7/27 Marketing Dept minutes. Reply to survey by 5pm today.”

Right– the second subject lines are more valuable. Why?
They’re precise. Clear. Sharp.

Specific subject lines beat generic subject lines any day. In fact, it’s this preciseness that creates tremendous value for your readers– just like a diamond’s precise cut creates tremendous value for the consumer.

So yeah, you’d be silly if you didn’t take an extra few seconds to think up precise subject lines for your readers.

Add a diamond to your subject lines
Be precise.

Your readers will secretly thank you.


P.S. How’s your email ping-pong lately?


Content Marketing Institute Contributing Article Writer

When Joe Pulizzi, Junta42 founder, announced the launch of Junta42's new service, Content Marketing Institute, I was really psyched.

CMI specializes in how-to content marketing education and training. Being a fan of Junta42 for years, I just knew the content and information at CMI would be first-class. And it is.

And now for some cool news

I'm pleased to share with you that I'm now part of Content Marketing Institute's team of writers as a contributing article writer.

Today launches my debut article, "How New Bloggers Can Easily Craft Remarkable About Pages."

I hope you enjoy it and, um, share it, too!

So, yeah, do yourself a favor. Head on over to CMI and check out the cool articles.

I think you'll be impressed.



Mark Levy Interview (Part 2): Solving Problems Through Freewriting

This is part two of my interview with marketing strategist, positioning master and first-class writer, Mark Levy. Be sure to read part one of Mark's interview on "crafting compelling messages."

If Mark's insights have peaked your interest in freewriting, be sure to check out his newly revised book, "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content, coming out in August." Mark also writes on his blog about creative writing, positioning and more.

OK, Mark, let's continue where we left off– with freewriting.

Let’s hear more about freewriting. Why is it effective? What’s its “secret sauce?”
To explain, let’s go back to a concept I already mentioned: the metaphorical “internal editor.”

Inside each of us is an internal editor that does an important job. It edits what we think, say, and write -- as we think, say, and write it -- so we sound smart, confident, and consistent.

We all need our internal editor. It helps us fit into polite society. There is a time, though, when our internal editor gets in our way.

I’m talking about those times when we need an idea unlike any we’ve ever had, or we want to solve a problem that we can’t solve using our standard thinking, or we want to write a book or post that says things most other people aren’t saying.

In instances like those, our editor can hurt us. How?

Since the editor wants us to always look good to others, it’s going to tell us we’re being stupid or impractical if we try thinking thoughts that are radically different for us. It’s going to order us to push aside the new and go with the familiar. It’s going to anchor us to what’s not working.

Understand, our editor believes it’s helping us. It thinks it’s protecting us by steering us away from untested ideas. But, again, without letting our minds venture into those novel places, we’re just going to get our standard ideas over and over again.

Freewriting forces the editor to recede, at least temporarily. By following a few simple freewriting rules, our minds can freestyle. They can go playful and create ideas and prose that’s a genuine departure for us.

How do you do freewriting?
Set a timer for, say, ten minutes, and get a pen and paper, or open a blank document in your computer.

You’re now going to write about some situation you have in mind by following a few guidelines.

You’re going to write as fast as you can, and you won’t stop for any reason – until the timer tells you you’re finished.

You needn’t show the work you’re about to do to anyone, so feel free to be bold, honest, and experimental.

Use the paper or screen to talk to yourself about the situation in mind. Write down anything that comes to you, including the people involved, the stories and images that flash in your mind, the bottlenecks you’re experiencing, the lessons you’ve learned, and so forth.

Don’t, however, feel you have to write about the situation in some comprehensive way. What you want to write about are those spots that have energy for you.

While doing this writing, you’re also allowed to digress as much as you’d like. If you write off topic, fine. In fact, going off topic can be helpful – especially if you find yourself thinking the same ideas over and over again. Digression breaks your patterns. It helps you see things from new perspectives and combine thoughts that don’t normally go together.

After ten minutes, look over what you wrote. You may have some ideas and prose you can use. If not, set the timer again and approach the subject from a different angle.

Do as many sessions as you’d like, over the course of an hour, or a day, or a few days, until you get what you need.

I read the first edition of your book, “Accidental Genius,” and it really got me to use freewriting regularly. What are all the ways people use the technique?
People use it to think through any situation you can imagine. They use it for business and private life. They use it to plan complicated organizational strategies, and to plan a weekend vacation. They use it to write eighty thousand word books, and eighty word blog posts.

This has been great. Any final words?
Don’t think of freewriting as writing. It’s a way of watching yourself think. It helps you get at the experiences and thoughts you already have, and helps you use those as fodder for new perspectives and ideas.

If you experiment with it and use it often enough, good things can’t help but happen.

Thanks, again, Mark for taking us inside the world of freewriting. I hope readers start tapping into its many benefits.

P.S. I had the privilege of reading Mark's manuscript for the revised version of "Accidental Genius." The book is so great I was pleased and honored to endorse it.

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