Maggie Frank-Hsu

Writing & Editing Tips

Some days we’re not just trudging toward bedtime

I’ve started to rest instead of push through. I don’t know if it’s my age (a “young 39,” as someone said to me yesterday🤣😐) , hormones, or something else, but my body doesn’t do things just because my mind tells it to anymore. My body is in revolt against my hyperactive mind. I’ve heard the “oxygen mask” analogy dozens of times and I’ve written about it myself. “Put on your mask before assisting others.” Also, its cousin: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It sounded reasonable. I just didn’t really believe it. Denying myself rest felt like a deeply personal decision, one that didn’t seem to me like it had to affect those around me one way or the other. As long as I kept showing up, it shouldn’t matter to them how I actually felt. Then, Monday night happened.

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Maybe we don’t need more empathy

We assume we all see the world in the same way. But we don’t. Let me start again. I assume. I assume we all see the world in the same way. When I say, “see the world,” I’m speaking quite literally. For instance. I read this blog post yesterday. “Today I have learned that not everyone has an internal monologue and it has ruined my day.” Apparently, not all people think in words and sentences. (Did you know this? Are you one of the people who doesn’t think your thoughts in words? Reply because I’m dying to chat about more about the details.) The video chat at the end of this post is the best part, so watch the video if you can. The interviewer is so, so uncomfortable as he confronts the reality of his interview subject and the way she experiences her thoughts.

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A Tribute to a Man I Never Met

Last week I talked about maintenance writing. (ICYMI, I compared writing to sex, so go look that one up in your inbox or read it on my LinkedIn 😏.) Anyway, my point was that we are not going to write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius every time we put fingers to keyboard. We are not even going to write something particularly good every time. But we are going to write something. The thing is, I made it sound like you need to show up more to write so that you can make space for those moments of inspiration when you write something that transcends your average effort. You can only seize that moment if you’ve been writing all along. But… what if the showing up and creating something, and doing it OVER AND OVER (that’s 🗝)… what if that in itself is a work of

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In praise of maintenance…

… sex. In praise of maintenance sex. (I was too chicken to put “sex” in the headline.) Anyway, hello! I’m talking maintenance sex today. … Consider sex in the context of a long-term, monogamous relationship. When you’re in one of those relationships… the first year is pretty hot. Right? That’s the year before you know this relationship is actually going to be long-term. You’ve got the unknown, and the danger of rejection. You don’t really, fully “have” the person, and they don’t have you. You are discovering. It’s new. But 10 years later (JUST FOR EXAMPLE), you have each other. You are all kinds of scrambled up. You are familiar. Familiar is too formal a word for what you are. And that’s great. But with the risk and newness gone… You have to figure out a way to get inspired to

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When you write like an expert, you sound like the opposite of an expert.

Not an expert. “I’m not an expert in this topic and therefore I can’t write about it for my business’s social media.” I love this statement because it seems really reasonable. Like… “Who, li’l ole amateur me? No… leave this topic to all those experts ‘out there.’ They’re obviously loads more qualified, so they’ll do a better job!” Yet it’s not reasonable. It’s wrong. Ass-backwards. FIRST of all, (I’m now typing with 1 hand while my left index finger is pointed regally in the air)… gather round because I’m about to unveil a golden nugget from my own 20 years of professional experience publishing online: The internet is a fucking free-for-all. (I learned that during Year 1. The other 19 years are just gravy.) … Whether you’re using it for business or pleasure, the internet is NOT ABOUT sitting quietly

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What do we deserve?

This week is the fourth anniversary of David Bowie’s death. David Bowie was the first celebrity who pierced my consciousness who seemed to be doing exactly whatever the eff he wanted. I miss him. Anyway. Bowie. —> Changes. —> The new year. It all got me thinking. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to you about a guy who had a lightning-bolt moment of clarity that caused him to quit smoking. (You don’t have to go back and read it, but if you want to, search in your email for “Remember when people smoked cigarettes.”) The conclusion from the book I was quoting: “When a behavior comes into conflict with a deeply held value, it is usually the behavior that changes.” We change when our values and our behavior don’t align. We are likelier to alter the behavior than the value in

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Actually, I CAN sum up what I learned in the 2010s in one sentence.

That’s 2019. The key that allows failures to happen without shame. The key that allows for gratitude and appreciation of all that I have and everyone who supported me this year. The key that allowed me to think bigger. That. Is. It. PS: OK so, one more thing: the idea in this sparkly photo also allowed me to develop a weekly writing practice this year that set the course for the entire future of my business. I stopped waiting to be a good writer and started practicing as the writer I am. As a client said to me yesterday, “I don’t know if I’m writing about this topic in the best way, but this is how I’m starting.” If you’re thinking about writing for your business but you don’t want to waste time writing blah, generic stuff that no one notices,

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The power in realizing – without rushing to fix

When I don’t like something, most of the time I want to fix the thing so I can escape feeling uncomfortable.

For the last few years, that’s how I’ve approached each holiday. I figured the solution lay within my power. I’ve tried to host (more control over what and when we eat!) and not host (less mess to clean!) I’ve tried leaving town and also just staying home.

I’ve tried taking more time off and spending less money. I thought one of these things would “work” and I would start to enjoy myself. But I didn’t.

This year, I ran out of ideas for how to “fix” the holidays and escape my discomfort. So I’m living with it instead.

Like those wonderful Instagram posters I mentioned, I have found power in recognizing that I don’t like the holidays that much.

This year, I stop short of rushing to fix it. I stop at recognizing.

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My Wish For You in 2020

In 2020, I hope you don’t create a content calendar for your business. Creating a content calendar is a swell way to do a few lousy things. Maybe you love nice and neat content grids. But you know what else is a nice and neat grid? THE BARS ON A JAIL CELL, PEOPLE. (At least the jails on TV.) It’s a trap. You WILL fail to stick to the content grid at some point. And you’ll feel bad about that failure. But what would happen if you didn’t create a content calendar, AKA a measuring stick to beat yourself with? …. Earlier in 2019, I wrote about why I think weight loss is a goal that doesn’t work. I also wrote about how I approach financial planning, meditation, and exercise without a rigid plan. What do all of these things have

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Roll Around in That Beginner’s Luck Glitter

It’s so hard to start things, isn’t it? OR IS IT? … My first time bowling was in Big Bear Lake, CA. My parents drove us up to the mountains for a long weekend. It was summer, so no skiing. Just fresh air and pine trees. And I was 9 so I was bored out of my skull. So my mom took me to The Bowling Barn, an alley that had just opened in town. My mom bought us an unlimited hour of bowling. The Sunday afternoon special. We rented the shoes. We shuffled from rack to rack, looking for the right bowling ball. I chose an orange creamsicle one. We sat down in the hard plastic seats at the end of our lane. This was 1990, so no gutter guards! Parents weren’t protecting their children’s egos like that back

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“I just don’t enjoy it.”

Good day, Let’s start with some reader feedback. I hear this. Unsurprisingly this comment on my FB page comes from a mom. You can tell because Moms know ourselves. We know what we like to do and what we don’t like to do because… Everybody demands we expend our energy on things we don’t like to do all day long. LEAVE US ALONE. Someone else do it for a change. GAWD. I respect this conclusion. The question I’m asking myself today is whether it’s possible to go from… hating writing and also–crucially–finding it energy-sapping to… finding it enjoyable and looking forward to it. What makes writing enjoyable? Being good at it must make it enjoyable, right? Ok. But not everyone’s good at writing, right? What makes a person good at writing? Innate talent? That’s what I used to believe. In school,

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The freak flag flies whether you like it or not.

A few days ago I watched a woman give a presentation who is smart, funny, dynamic, a terrific speaker. She’s got that Grit. She tells it like it is and she’s not afraid to be seen in all her gesturing, funny-face, loud-voice glory. So when she said toward the end of her presentation, “my personality is nowhere on my website or social media channels,” I felt… sad. Because that means if you never meet her in person (and you probably won’t, since she can only do so many speaking gigs), you never get a taste of her “freak flag.” She’s not flying it anywhere on the internet. Not on her website. Not on her social media channels. You never get to hear her approach to her work. Her shouts, her claps, her eye-rolls (swear to God they’re audible). You don’t get

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I have Schadenfreude (but it’s curable)

Back in May I was in Tokyo, jogging. AS ONE DOES. I jogged by a school that had a bunch of German flashcard-type stickers pasted to the side of the cement school building. Because… Japan? I don’t know why. Anyway, this was one of those flashcards. Schadenfreude. Not my first brush with the word. I first learned it when I was reading Gawker back in the mid 2000s. Gawker was wickedly funny, and full of schadenfreude, which basically means, “feeling glee when someone who seems perfect/better off than you messes up publicly.” Back then, I refreshed Gawker HOURLY. They were skewering powerful media people. People I stood next to in the elevator on the way to the cafeteria as a lowly fact-checker in Midtown Manhattan. People who had no idea I existed, and I thought, never would. And Gawker was cutting them

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Henry Ford, Celeste Barber, and Faster Horses

You know that quote attributed to Henry Ford? “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” It means, “Don’t give people the product they say they want. Give people the product that actually solves their problem.” Right? The other day, I was thinking about how this applies to what we write when we’re marketing our businesses. I talked a bit about this last week as well. The idea that we should be creating content that is “OF VALUE.” Next time you feel like you really SHOULD post something that’s “OF VALUE” to your audience, because that’s what content marketing is… I want you to ask yourself… What would Celeste Barber do? Who is Celeste Barber? That is Celeste Barber. She’s an actress and comedian. If she had asked people to tell her what she

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