What’s This Newsletter About?
Hello and welcome to the Writer’s Guide—just launched on Aug. 16, 2023. I’m your host, Robert Roy Britt. That’s my byline. You can call me Rob.
With this free newsletter and related community and coaching opportunities, I’ll teach you how to craft effective non-fiction writing to serve and build your audience. The Writer’s Guide serves writers of all backgrounds and experience levels—academics, professionals, entrepreneurs, journalists, bloggers and PIOs—who wish to reach a general audience, aka lay readers.
I’ve been a working journalist and hands-on editor and writing mentor for more than three decades, and I’m at a stage in life where I wish to give back to the writing community by writing about everything I’ve learned and offering to be your mentor and even your coach. Below you’ll find some testimonials.
What to Expect
You’ll learn fundamentals of good writing as I lay out the basics and share the secret sauce I’ve learned through reporting, writing and editing at newspapers and websites small and large.
The Free Newsletter
Helpful insights, advice and inspiration for improving your craft, in essays and guides delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.
The Paid Experience
Paid subscribers receive an additional in-depth guide each month, including the extensive, practical, mildly entertaining Punctuation Guide: The Rules & How to Break Them (see the preview) plus other exclusive essays.
Coaching for Founding Members
Founding Members get all that plus a hands-on, detailed editing and mentoring session with me. I’ll coach you on headlines, structure, flow, style, tone and more, editing of one your published or unpublished articles (up to ~1,500 words total, preferably in Google Docs or in MS Word) with follow-up back-and-forth to facilitate deep learning.
This is You
You are serious about your writing and want reach a wider audience. I can help you vastly improve the structure, flow, tone, headlines, subtitles, nutgraphs, throughlines and other critical aspects of your articles to make your writing more engaging, memorable, shareable and… successful.
You might be a…
Professional or topical expert: scientist, physician, entrepreneur, fitness pro or other expert aiming to wow the masses with your career insights.
Journalist: Freelancer or staffer needing to gain 30 years of experience like right now.
Self-published writer: Flying solo with little or no editing help on Substack, Medium or some other self-publishing platform.
PIO: As a public information officer, you want to speak the language of working journalists. Or as one paid subscriber and PIO said: "I support [the Writer’s Guide] because.... I could certainly use the help winning arguments with my editors.”
Editor: Even we editors get in ruts, need refreshers, and can always learn a thing or two, both about editing and explaining those edits to help writers grow.
I’ve been editing and mentoring people like you my whole career. Despite individual strengths and weaknesses, every writer needs to understand the fundamentals and how to deploy them, and develop a little special sauce to set their writing apart. That’s what I teach.
This is Me
I’m a longtime writer and editor, and a former media executive who has mentored hundreds of writers with hundreds of different backgrounds and skill sets.
I have 200,000+ followers on Medium, where I’ve been writing about health and wellness since 2019 (find me here). In 2022, I published Make Sleep Your Superpower, a book that grew out of my Medium articles.
In late May 2023, I founded Wise & Well, a Medium publication with a growing team of journalists, research scientists, physicians, mental health professionals and other topical experts. I edit these writers on a daily basis, and what they learn from me—and what I learn from them—generates much of the fundamental advice and secret sauce that goes into the Writer’s Guide every week (you can see some testimonials below).
After getting my journalism degree in the early 1990s, I cut my teeth in newspapers, at the Asbury Park Press and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. I went on to launch one of the early internet’s first science news publications, in 1998, later selling it to Space.com and going to work for that site’s parent company, which led to a series of editing and managing gigs. I was the founding editor of Live Science in 2004, and eventually editor-in-chief of both Live Science and Space.com. I have hired, editored and mentored hundreds of staff writers and freelancers over the years.
As the company grew, I moved into the C-suite and oversaw the launch and operation of several successful publications in technology, business and health.
Now I’m back doing what I love the most: writing, editing and mentoring. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with you.
Why I Launched the Writer’s Guide
I see the same mistakes (and the same successes) over and over and over, in self-published articles, in mainstream publications, and in drafts for the Medium publication I run. The fixable problems I see in writing—from inadequate ideation and poor outlining to boring headlines to bland endings—are the same problems I saw when I started in journalism in the early 1990s.
My mission is to inspire and educate you, to help you break out and achieve your full potential as a writer by identifying and eliminating your bad habits and adopting best practices, as well as figuring out what you do best and where you need improvement.
I’m volunteering to be your editor, your mentor, if not line by line (though that option is available) then at least in the back of your mind, coaching and cajoling, reminding you what works, what doesn’t, and explaining exactly how to do it.
Whether you’re new at writing, or you’ve been writing successfully for years, each week you’ll learn something useful that’s either new to you or that you’ve inexplicably leaned away from.
The result: Together, we’re going to make your writing more readable, more informative, more useful, more compelling and more memorable. More successful.
“I’ve written two trade books and many op-eds, and yet have never received the type of detailed, constructive, and practical feedback for writing for the general public as I've received from Rob. His advice is spot on and my pieces are better for having received it.”
—Catherine Sanderson, psychology professor, keynote speaker, author, and writer on Medium
“Working with Rob has taken my writing to the next level. He’s not only a talented editor, but also a master storyteller and patient mentor. If you’re banging on your keyboard all by yourself — trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t — save yourself a lot of time and wasted effort and get Rob on your team.”
—Kathleen Murphy, independent health writer on Medium
“Rob has greased the rails for my transition from academic writing to writing for the general public. I have grown briskly as a writer as a result of tapping into his editorial acumen and extensive journalism experience. Thanks to his mentorship, I am reaching an enthusiastic and rapidly growing audience.”
—Eric J. Kort MD, physician, meditator and writer on Medium
“Rob’s guidance has helped me develop and refine my writing from the original concept through the final edit. He's helped me learn to spot the key idea in my work and guide me toward expressing it in a clear and compelling article. I especially appreciate the digestible advice and tips on the mechanics of non-fiction writing (things I've not been taught as an academic). Effective non-fiction writing is a skill that can be learned, and a mentor like Rob can offer a huge leg up.”
—Elizabeth Knight, PhD, health coach, nurse practitioner and writer on Medium
“Rob is highly attuned to what the prospective reader wants. With his creative and detail-oriented editing and guidance, he will challenge you to perfect your skills and achieve the next level of excellence.”
—Gail Post, PhD, psychologist, parenting coach, author and writer on Medium