A close friend had a birthday this week.
In gratitude for the texts and messages that modern birthdays serve up... she wrote on Instagram: "I have... a wonderful husband, sparkling kids, cherished friends, fulfilling career, Taylor Swift tics...."
(LOL on that last
one. But also... I'm a little salty. Because I do not have Taylor Swift tickets.)
My friend ended with "I matter to the world I have created for myself."
I loved that subtle reframing.
What do we have in the world we've created for ourselves?
It's Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., a time of gratitude and reflection. I suppose that's why this issue is a little more introspective than most.
This issue is also less prescriptive with the writing and marketing advice. (Our regularly scheduled
programming will return in Total Annarchy #126.)
* * *
My birthday friend is using "gratitude tense," a made-up grammatical construction that challenges us to begin a sentence with "I have..." in place of "I am grateful for..."
Around this time every year, I bump into a reference to
"gratitude tense" in my wandering around the internet. (Most recently, via Austin Kleon.)
"Gratitude tense" is also stronger writing.
It's a way to ditch a weak "thinking" verb "am" in favor of bold "action" verb "have." I talk about this in the brand-new edition of Everybody
Writes. (Also on Bookshop.org.)
"Thinking" verbs are scrawny weakling verbs like thinks, considers, knows, feels. The action is invisible because it happens inside a brain.
"Action" verbs describe actions you can more easily see in the world. One of my writing teachers used to say that "action" verbs are verbs that
would hurt if you dropped them on your foot.
They paint a picture in the mind of a reader. But now I'm just mixing metaphors whoops.
* * *
So this almost-year-end, paint your own picture.
Try a kind of counting exercise. You become the inventory control specialist, taking stock of what you have.
Shift the inert "I am grateful for..." into the active "I have..."
Gratitude is easier to feel when you can see it plain as day.
The petty grievances. The perceived slights. That negative remark. The fact
that I had a frustrating week capped by not scoring Taylor tickets. Letting it all go.
I'm gonna try, anyway.
I hope your own inner inventory control manager ticks off lots of items in your stockroom.
And happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate.
I'm grateful I have you here, reading this.
* * *
Here's a thing or 4 worth knowing this week:
➡️ The story of Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole is a story of Content Marketing genius.
➡️ Will you help me understand how B2B marketers get the education and training we need? Yes? Please take this survey.
➡️ I don't often talk to Sales audiences. But when I do, the results can be ridiculous. Podcast: Using the Power of Words to Attract More Buyers with Ann Handley. [Thanks, Tyler and Rajiv at Vidyard.]
➡️ I like the checklist & conversation format of this event I'm doing on Dec. 7 with my friends at Siteimprove. Webinar: Mastering the email newsletter: How to
make yours something your audience will love. Free; reg. required. Bonus! You could win a fresh copy of my new book!
* * *
THAT EMAIL METRIC I LOVE: UPDATE (WITH DATA)
In the previous issue, I wrote about the OWBR, the one email metric that matters most to me. (OWBR is Open to Write Back Rate, sometimes known as Response Rate.)
To answer some of your questions in response to the last issue...
1. Was the OWBR for TA #124 issue off the charts?
Usual OWBR = .18%
OWBR for the last issue = .44%
2. Isn't talking about the OWBR skewing my results, rendering my own OWBR less useful and reliable? Is this why we don't talk about Bruno?
Well, of course.
But askew is OK. I'm looking for engagement in this humble
fortnightly newsletter, not tracking macroeconomic performance for the World Bank.
Anyway, any number weirdness is worth it if it changes the way you think about your own newsletter.
Also: Thanks for asking.
DEPARTMENT OF SHENANIGANS
How writers feel about AI writing tools.