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The Word Leader Podcast

Author: Leandre Larouche

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The Word Leader Podcast is for experts and lovers of ideas wanting to write a book or simply use the written word to propel their career or business. Podcast host and founder of Stellar Writing Leandre Larouche discusses everything from strategy to tactics, to mindset and philosophy. Visit https://www.stellarwriting.co to get more details about Stellar Writing and book a free consultation.
46 Episodes
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One of my clients once asked more or less directly for validation. Although I wanted to make him happy, I couldn’t give him the validation he sought because he wasn’t far enough into the process. The truth is, you don’t need validation before you start writing; the writing process provides such validation. If you follow the steps, do the work, and stay humble, there is no chance in the world your audience won’t appreciate what you have to say. Everyone has ideas, a message, or expertise to share; the problem is not the WHAT, it is the HOW. By expressing ideas compellingly, which can be learned, your ideas will be worth reading.
There are three sure ways to sabotage our chances of finding success with writing: perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and shiny object syndrome. It is not enough to know that perfection is unnecessary on the first draft; we also need to act accordingly and create an experience that reinforces our belief. As far as imposter syndrome goes, we need to realize that our value lies not in how much we know about a given field, but in our capacity to connect ideas from different disciplines. Finally, we need to realize that there is always just one idea we should be writing — the idea we have been obsessing over for years.
If there is one thing all writers share, it’s the necessity to have a fresh pair of eyes available. Such a fresh pair of eyes can be yours like it can be somebody else’s. However, you do need somebody who can take a step back and put themselves in your readers’ shoes. When we write, we often end up in a place of flow, which makes it impossible to ensure clarity. 
Writers and aspiring authors often feel confused about their ideas. They don’t know where to start, they’re not sure how their ideas connect with one another, and they’re not clear on what the point of their text is. There exists a simple framework that helps you make sense of your ideas: at any given time, there is only one idea you should be writing about. After all, not all ideas are equal, and some ideas are more significant than others. You want to make sure you know which ideas are statements and which ideas are details supporting statements. By doing so, you will be able to create a hierarchy of ideas, which you can use to create a clear, simple structure to your writing.
People wrongly assume good writers are born talented because they only see the tip of the iceberg. They see the books, they see the prizes, the book fairs, and the interviews. But what they don’t see are the years of practice. Writers become good at their craft by practicing the craft, and most writers spend years working on their craft to become good. With the right frameworks, however, you can shortcut the process. Most writers choose hard work and guesswork over frameworks. With frameworks, you can improve your skills and master the process much faster than if you choose to learn on your own.
If you struggle writing consistently and sticking to a writing schedule, you can benefit from implementing the 20-mile march concept. The 20-mile march is a concept developed in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. It states that, in periods of turbulence, companies need to stick to their target consistently regardless of the chaos and the uncertainty. Only by taking action every day, even when it’s inconvenient, will they reach their targets and achieve the desired outcomes. Instead of writing a lot on certain days, you should write a little bit every day — even if the world seems intent on keeping you from writing. Build a scoreboard. Set a goal. Reward yourself.
One of the most frustrating aspects of writing is that we can never seem to write as well as we wish. We can never write as well as our favourite authors. Why? The best authors have the best words, right? It is true the best authors have the best words — and they use them with powerful nuances — but it is also true you to can find the best words. For every thought, for every nuance, there exists the perfect word — and these words have been used. What you need to do is read widely and pay attention to words and how they’re used. By seeing how they’re used by the best, you will be able to use them like the best.
If you worry you can’t find new, original ideas and that everything has been written, think again. Blue Ocean Strategy, a 2004 business book by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, has a lot to teach us in this regard. The book lays out a framework businesses can use to create infinite demand for their product or service through value innovation. At the core of the book is the idea that businesses should look at their non-existing customer base and compete across different industries instead of within industries. By creating products and services at the intersection of different industries. The same is true for writing. The best ideas come from combining ideas from different disciplines, and we all have unique sets of knowledge and experiences. Get creative!
Finding flow is a significant challenge for many aspiring writers and authors. Flow, however, is not complicated. It consists of internal and external factors. You need to make sure you are well-read in your topic, have found your unique angle, and have a good mindset about writing. Then, you need to make sure you are in a good environment to write, you are enjoying yourself, and you are giving yourself feedback. By optimizing internal and external factors, you are setting yourself up to be a prolific writer.
You may feel as though you can never write the way you wish to. You may feel as though you can never write like your favourite authors. But do you take the language for granted? As a non-native English speaker, I've learned that many native English-speakers — and people who speak other languages as well — take their language for granted. They content themselves with simple explanations if they seek explanations at all. To write in a way that will make you unforgettable, you need to take a step back, look at the language as an outsider, and ask deep questions about the way it works. Then and only then will you be able to fully use writing to unlock new opportunities and reach new heights.
Like data analysts study data to improve the system, you need to study writing to improve your craft. Writing is made of levels of analysis you can use to zoom in and out. The more you analyze writing — your writing and other people's writing — the more you grow as a writer. Self-awareness is critical in this endeavour. You need to be able to identify what you like and what you don't. This way, you can implement what you like and avoid what you don't. That is the easier way to craft and refine your style and voice. After all, your style and voice are simply the products of how you use what the language has made available to you. The more you read with your writing analyst hat, the better you write.
Every so often, I pick up a book and start reading it, only to find out within the first few pages that the book is unworthy of reading and the author likely a fraud. The caveat, though, is that the book isn't necessarily terrible. Nor is the author necessarily a fraud. But some rookie writing mistakes make it so I believe so. Many of us use rhetoric — which we should — because it's a powerful weapon. However, rhetoric can be misused and abused, and it often is. If you misuse or abuse rhetoric, you undermine all the hard work you've done. It doesn't matter how smart you are; it doesn't matter how well-meaning you are. You must not only learn rhetoric, but you also must learn how to use it appropriately. It is better not to use rhetoric than to misuse or abuse it — because rhetoric can backfire.
Logic is the cornerstone of writing. If your logic is unsound while speaking, your audience may give you the benefit of the debt. But if your writing is logically unsound, you don't get a second chance. Writing affords you the opportunity to revise, so you have no excuse. What does it mean to have sound logic, though? Sound logic means meeting your audience where they are in terms of their beliefs and changing their beliefs sequentially through a logical series of statements. If you fail to do this, you lose your audience — and, worse still, they may think you are a fool. You should always ask yourself, "am I paying attention to logic?" and "is my logic impeccable?"
We should not look at grammar as an annoying, restrictive set of rules. Grammar is a finite collection of patterns and linguistic combinations we can weaponize to get a point across effectively. The problem we have in our society is that grammar is taught negatively, and it makes many of us hate it. Let me remind you, though, that grammar is like culture. Yes, culture can be oppressive. Yes, culture can act like a tyrannical father. But culture also sets us free. Only within the confines of culture can we find a way to express ourselves while serving others. We should not be enslaved to culture — like we should not be enslaved to grammar. Instead, we should learn about it and use it — and sometimes subvert it — to express our uniqueness.
Inspiration is like success. You can't achieve it by pursuing it out of self-interest. If you want inspiration, you need to stop looking for it. You need to pause, think of something else, and let inspiration come to you. Inspiration tends to come to us when we expect it the least. Answers to our problems tend to come to us when we no longer bother with the issue. Walking, showering, getting distracted are some of the best ways to get inspiration. The best ways to get inspiration are indirect, not direct. You can take actions that cause inspiration to come to you, but you can't force inspiration to come to you.
Sequence is everything. It does not matter how much time you have to write every day. What matters is how you use the time you have. The mistake many newbie writers make is to use the time to have ineffectively. They start writing right away without any plan or structure. Then, they struggle to sustain writing over an extended period of time and they find themselves stuck. Moreover, they do not produce the best work they can because they haven't followed a process that makes their ideas clear for their readers.
Writing is not special. Like any other discipline, you need to learn the fundamentals and practice the craft. But you also need mentorship. A mentor is someone who will guide you through your journey, showing empathy and wisdom. A good writing mentor, unlike books and courses, will not simply give you the tactics and techniques. A good writing mentor will give you the strategies, the philosophy, and the identity to become the author of your dreams. In this episode, we discuss how important mentorship is in writing.
There is one writing mistake that will cost you more than any other. This mistake, unfortunately, will lead people to believe you are not as intelligent as you are. This mistaking is circling back to the beginning of your sentence. In other words, it is writing a sentence that does not have an internal logic. It's a sentence that repeats itself at the end without getting anywhere. In this episode, I show you how to avoid these sentences.
Clear writing is honest writing. We should not be hiding what we mean behind walls of words and obscure sentence constructions. It is a sad thing that many of today's government officials, academics, and businesspeople write in such an incomprehensible way. It shows they either do not know what they are talking about or that they are not being genuine with us. If you want to serve your culture and your civilization, write clearly, write honestly — and encourage others to do the same.
Writing is like attending a dinner party. You can't show up and start talking without listening to what people are saying. The respectful thing to do is to sit down, listen to what people are saying, and contribute to the conversation where you can. Unfortunately, many people write as if they're crashing the dinner party. They don't take the time to familiarize themselves with similar books, and they end up repeating things that have been said long before.
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