Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

vista

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

– Mary Oliver

Five really easy email wins

Ready to press send on your latest email? Hold off for five minutes! There’s a few things you can do to make your next mailer more impactful, improving your open and click through rates.

1. Concise content means you can use a bigger font, it takes less time to read and can be consumed on the move; while sitting on the bus or in line for the check out. Think mobile first, and ask yourself; if you’ve cut something out, did you really need to say it in the first place?

Nordstrom email

2. Make your content single column – this is a lot easier to resize in mobile and have it display well (ditch those massive margins).

3. Design for touch and fat fingers – make your buttons big, e.g 44px², and spaced out so users don’t misstep or miss-tap. I like this email from Lomography, with its unmissable calls to action:

Lomo email

4. Subject lines viewed on iPhones cut off at 35 characters! When I found out this one I was gobsmacked. At 35 characters, well that’s only a quarter of a tweet. The rest of your words just… vanish. You don’t want your readers missing anything crucial, so make sure the key information you want to get across is up front (e.g. lead with ‘Win’). Even better, rewrite your message so it fits in that space.

5. Check your alt text and pre-headers are in place – remember not all images will display. Here’s one example from Frankie magazine that shows the value of double-checking:

Preheaders - are they in place?

Whether you’re a one man brand or talking to hundreds of thousands of people, hopefully these little tips and tricks will help you out, and power you to the end goal.

 

Morning pages

“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself” – Jack Kerouac

I have never religiously written morning pages, but I always enjoyed coming home after a night out (technically morning), curling up in bed with a big glass of water and ‘spewing’ my thoughts on to the pages of my notebook. Charming, I know. In the morning I’d find paragraphs of unusable material, all hideously misspelled, but it let me sleep easy.

Things are changing though. Nowadays I find myself rising early on the regular, drinking verbena tea – quelle horreur – and jotting down a few lines. I am very lucky to do what I love for a living, but in ten years all I’ll have is a hard drive, if they still even exist, of PDFs, quaint status updates from 2012 and fuzzy images. It’ll be nice to have something solid, just for me, even if it is hardly fit for public consumption.

Thoughts on comparison

Eight Thirty

Coffee does indeed fix most things (or just a chat with Mon, who took the photo). But in times of doubt it’s important to remember that “Comparing yourself to others makes you vulnerable to shame”.
For me, this sentiment gets filed under writing:

We have nobody’s life to live but our own. From any larger perspective, be it evolutionary, religious or spiritual, we are all here for a very short time, less than an eyeblink in the broad scheme of things, whether we die at age one or one hundred. We are all beautiful and essentially flawed human beings. In the words of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross put it, “I’m not okay, you’re not okay and that’s okay.”

From I’m Not Okay, You’re Not Okay, and That’s Okay! by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.

Do You Ever Get Talker’s Block?

No one ever gets talker’s block. No one wakes up in the morning, discovers he has nothing to say and sits quietly, for days or weeks, until the muse hits, until the moment is right, until all the craziness in his life has died down.

Why then, is writer’s block endemic?

The reason we don’t get talker’s block is that we’re in the habit of talking without a lot of concern for whether or not our inane blather will come back to haunt us. Talk is cheap. Talk is ephemeral. Talk can be easily denied.

We talk poorly and then, eventually (or sometimes), we talk smart. We get better at talking precisely because we talk. We see what works and what doesn’t, and if we’re insightful, do more of what works. How can one get talker’s block after all this practice?

Writer’s block isn’t hard to cure.

Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.

– the marvelous Seth Godin, writing about the myth of writer’s block .

September dreams

September: poem

[via Louniverse]

 

I am really looking forward to my first autumnal September. I remember visiting New York in October, and suddenly Halloween made sense; the end of harvest and darkening of days, not strawberries and 8pm sunsets. I’ve spent a long time in topsy-turvy land… It’s now time for scarves, crisp mornings and falling leaves.