Tag Archives: tips

Avoid Boring Writing: Tips (to Avoid) from Scientific Articles

Most scientific papers consist of “predictable, stilted structure and language”, leading to consistently boring journal articles. Kaj Sand-Jensen, writing in the ecology journal Oikos, decided to investigate this problem and concluded his research by providing a set of recommendations for how to write consistently boring scientific articles (pdf):

  • Avoid focus
  • Avoid originality and personality
  • Write l o n g contributions
  • Remove most implications and every speculation
  • Leave out illustrations, particularly good ones
  • Omit necessary steps of reasoning
  • Use many abbreviations and technical terms
  • Suppress humor and flowery language
  • Degrade species and biology to statistical elements
  • Quote numerous papers for self-evident statements

Even though this was originally published in an ecology journal, you can’t fail to see how these recommendations apply to almost every other piece of written work.

via @Falijn

Focus Points for Entrepreneurs

When someone asked for advice on How to become a millionaire in 3 years on Hacker News, serial entrepreneur Jason Baptiste took the task seriously providing thirty-seven things to focus on when starting a company, including:

  • Market opportunity
  • Inequality of information
  • Surround yourself with smart people
  • Your primary metric shouldn’t be dollars
  • If you do focus on a dollar amount, focus on the first $10,000
  • Get as many distribution channels as possible
  • Be a master of information
  • Be so good they can’t ignore you
  • Give yourself every opportunity you can
  • Look for the accessory ecosystem
  • Make the illiquid, liquid
  • Don’t be emotional
  • Don’t leave things up to chance
  • Raise revenue, not funding
  • Don’t get comfortable
  • Don’t skimp on the important things
  • Keep the momentum going
  • Listen to (or read the transcriptions of) every Mixergy interview you can
  • Learn how to filter

Jason goes into great detail for each item on his list, starting his post with the clarification that these tips are for making a success of a business endeavour in “a short time frame” (i.e. not specifically for making a million dollars in three years).

Stephen King on Writing Successfully

It took Stephen King ten minutes to learn how to have a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction and he believes he can teach us the same in ten minutes, too.

King–author of countless novels and the much-lauded book on the craft, On Writing–starts with a short story of his youth followed by twelve tips professing to teach us everything we need to know about writing successfully:

  1. Be talented: If you’re not talented, you won’t succeed. And if you’re not succeeding, you should know when to quit. When is that? I don’t know. It’s different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it’s time you tried painting or computer programming.
  2. Be neat
  3. Be self-critical
  4. Remove every extraneous word
  5. Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft: Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.
  6. Know the markets
  7. Write to entertain: If you want to preach, get a soapbox.
  8. Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?”: The answer needn’t always be yes. But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.
  9. How to evaluate criticism
  10. Observe all rules for proper submission
  11. An agent? Forget it. For now
  12. If it’s bad, kill it: When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law. When it comes to fiction, it is the law.

That story King shares ends with an anecdote related directly to tip four:

Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.

User Experience Design Tips

Inspired by Matthew Frederick’s enlightening book 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, Shane Morris and Matt Morphett started 101 Things I Learned in Interaction Design School.

After a promising start the site halted prematurely with a measly nineteen entries to it’s name. Those that do exist are not all fantastic, but there are some gems that are worth a browse, including:

I wait in hope of a revival.

via @zambonini

Nine Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Longevity

By studying the world’s Blue Zones–“communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age”–Dan Buettner and team discovered a set of common behavioural traits in their subjects.

In his TEDxTC talk Buettner discusses what he discovered to be the myths of living longer and the nine common diet and lifestyle habits of those who live to be active at 100+:

  • Exercise Naturally: They don’t consciously exercise — rather, daily physical exercise was a natural part of their lives (walking, using stairs, cycling for transport, etc.).
  • Downshift: They live a simple life.
  • Have a Purpose: Knowing and acting with purpose and having a higher goal leads to around a seven year increase in life expectancy.
  • Moderate Alcohol Intake: I’ve discussed this at length before.
  • Plant-Based Diet: Not a vegetarian diet, but a largely plant-based one.
  • No Overeating: They avoid overeating, typically by using ‘nudges’.
  • Friends and Family First: They typically think of their close friends and family first.
  • Belong to a Faith-Based Community: Belonging to a faith-based community, and meeting on average four times a month, can add four to fourteen years to one’s life. Does this exclude atheists? I don’t see why a humanist community that meets the same rules (meeting regularly) would be different.
  • Belong to the Right ‘Tribe’: They surround themselves with the ‘right’ people. By doing so they prevent getting bad habits through social network effects (also discussed previously).

via David DiSalvo