Why Writers Should Ask Themselves ‘Can You Do This?’

By Jason Boog Comment

How do you prepare for pitching your next article or book? On today’s edition of the Morning Media Menu, we spoke with Daniel Pink, the bestselling author of To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.

Pink explored his new book, sharing some unexpected rejection advice for writers. He also explained how he used Qualtrics Research Suite to gather reporting for his book. Here’s an excerpt:

If you’re going to pitch a book or pitch an article to a magazine editor, the conventional view is that we should pump ourselves up that we should say to ourselves, “You can do it!” Positive, affirmative self-talk. What the research shows is that it’s actually more effective to questions your abilities. To go from “You can do it” to “Can you do this?” Because questions, by their very nature, elicit an active response. So when you say “Can you do this?” you have to answer. And in that answer is the preparation, the rehearsal and the review of the strategy. I’ve used that a lot, going from positive, affirmative self-talk to interrogative self-talk.

Pink also spoke about how research tools have evolved over the last 30 years:

I grew up in Ohio, as one of my part time jobs, I worked for a polling firm. I would go to the basement of this office building and get on the phone with these sheets of paper and I would reach people by phone. I would ask them a bunch of questions, tally up the answers on a sheet of paper and then put it into this pile and someone else would add it up. That was enormously time-consuming and expensive.

Press play below to listen to the whole interview. Pink concluded by exploring his Qualtrics Research Suite work:

Now using this, you can do the whole set of survey research for literally a tiny fraction of the cost and a tiny fraction of the time. There are so many incredible, powerful tools out there that writers can use. You can actually expand your research and reporting using these things. Especially for nonfiction writers who are making arguments or doing analysis, rather than pure narrative. It gives you a chance to really substantiate your claims and find out stuff you didn’t really thing you would be able to find out.