on 9 June 2009
I picked John's book up with my Sunday breakfast and read it through to my mid morning banana and coffee. Writing is one of those everyday habits, like walking and breathing, that I usually do on automatic pilot. John's book produced a charge of adrenalin that has stayed with me. What could easily have been turgid took me right away from the Sunday papers. The banana and coffee tasted great.
on 19 August 2009
I am not a writer I just have to write things at work. Well I thought that until I read some of John Simmons' previous books and then attended one of the Dark Angels courses. Then I realised that yes I was a writer and that I had slipped into the habits of corporate writing John describes. Dark Angels etc showed me different ways to break out of the corporate boxes in communication in general not just writing. Twenty six ways of looking at a blackberry really makes you see how the boxes can be crushed to little pieces. The appendix in the book, Forever young a lecture at Shakespeare's Globe, is also a little gem with John's ten principles to apply to writing (and communication in general) at work.
John's books have also made me more aware of branding - perhaps because I am not a spender branding tended to be wasted on me. In the time I was reading Twenty-six ways of looking at a blackberry I saw the strap line "We are all over the place" under an estate agents company name. We know what it says!!
on 22 June 2009
This book joins Harold Evans' 'Essential English for Journalists' and Gowers' 'The Complete Plain Words' as one of the must-read books for anyone involved in writing for business. '26 Ways...' dispels the notion that constraint necessarily limits creativity, and shows that the need for a piece to meet a brief can be a powerful springboard for ideas and language. John Simmons explores the possibilities of words at work in a warm, personable and persuasive way far removed from the robotic verbiage of conventional corporate management. He also demonstrates that a richer form of language can convey more profound, nuanced, illuminating and engaging ideas - something often lost in the unthinking rush towards 'Plain English' (after all, who wants to be plain?) Any reader will be inspired to delete the 'going forwards', 'downsizings' and 'people solutions' from their lexicons and go in search of more expressive and effective ways to connect with readers.
on 28 April 2009
One of the things I like most about the book is John's belief that we are all capable of writing in a more compelling and persuasive manner. In this latest addition to the bookshelf he gives us practical tools to help unleash that potential. I had high hopes for the book from the outset having enjoyed many of John's other books. A particular favourite has been 'We, Me, Them & It'. And in 'Twenty-six ways' he returns to the theme of writing powerfully for business. In fact, taking a single base text, he returns to it twenty six times through the distorting lenses of, amongst others, Dickens, Greek myth, the graphic novel, Shakespearean sonnets, detective fiction and haiku. What he leaves the reader with is not so much a prescription for better writing, a list of do's and don'ts, but rather a whole series of methods to subvert the commonplace, avoid the formulaic and seek out a more interesting route.
If you are looking for inspiration and ideas to sharper your business writing or copywriting skills, start here.
In this book John Simmons provides 26 examples of how to use words in different ways to communicate your brand or business more vividly.
He does this by rewriting the same short drab corporate text from a fictitious technology company's Annual Report in 26 different styles- including that of being 'written on a Blackberry for an eight year old', detective fiction, as a song lyric and in a Starbucks style. Simmons includes exercises, analysis, tips, insights and useful anecdotes with each one.
It's both entertaining and illuminating, and the perfect antidote to business language that is frequently dull and sets out to obfuscate the facts.
A useful reference book and source of ideas for anyone interested in writing better for business.
on 29 May 2009
My problem with this book is that every time I read a chapter, I lend it to someone who will find it valuable. Problem solved, I ordered a number of new copies.
Quite simply this is for anyone in any organization who wants to influence or change the culture of writing and tone of voice of their organization. Some companies have a tendency to write brochures,annual reports,customer letters designed to fulfill legal requirements,committee approvals,and ID manuals completely forgetting their intended audience.
Be bold, drop one in the in tray of your friendly Investor Relations, Corporate Communications and Marketing gurus and light blue touch paper.
This book will make you frustrated, it will make you think, and hopefully it will energize you to become a standard bearer for a new way of expressing the essence of your organization.
on 13 August 2009
With twenty-six alternative versions of a generic piece of business writing, John Simmons demonstrates the notion that corporate limitations can actually be used as a stimulus to writing.
In being forced to write in a certain style it becomes clear as to what can work and what does not. An annual business report will never be written in the style of detective fiction, but in doing so the author demonstrates that, with a different attitude taken towards business writing, a campaign can hit the target market more effectively than a conformist, bland, play-it-safe approach.
John Simmons coaches the reader throughout, looking over his shoulder at every step to ensure that they are still on board. I found myself totally immersed and only stopped to make a string of notes and a list of people who I know will benefit greatly from this book.
on 15 April 2009
Have you ever struggled to find a place to start? How to start? How on earth you're going to approach a piece of particularly coma-inducing copy? This book will certainly solve your problem. By approaching the same turgid text from vastly different standpoints (the Dickens, lyrics, haiku thing - just a few examples, in case you were wondering) John Simmons opens up new ways of thinking about business writing. And it's a riveting read. An invaluable handbook for the copywriter. And if you're not a copywriter, but just fancy a well written book about good writing, then look no further. In fact I'd even say you MUST read this book!
on 16 April 2009
This wonderfully wise book should be read not just by copy writers - although it should be essential reading for them - it should also be studied closely by any one who has to communicate in writing or who values the written word. It's not just a rant about bad practice in writing, as a few recent bestselling books have been; rather, it is a calm appraisal of what it takes to write well, with exercises and observations that both inspire and encourage. The central idea is beautifully and deceptively simple and, the writing, as you would expect, is accomplished.
on 25 May 2009
Are you looking for inspiration? Look no further. Can you write something influenced and reflecting the colour blue? This book contains a rich source of ideas structured around twenty six different ways to disrupt your humdrum thinking. John Simmons has written another must read for every marketing and communication person looking to add fresh creativity to their writing. I devoured this book from cover to cover in one greedy read, leaving a trail of markers on too many pages to mention.