Author. Inspired by Creativity, Imagination and Design.


My experiences in writing.

My observations of the creative world around me.

How those two worlds come together.

Simple Tip #7 to Instantly Improve Your Writing

The single most incredible moment in all of U.S. sports history occurred on February 22, 1980.

The USA Hockey Team took down the dominant USSR Hockey Team at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York.

Coach Herb Brooks assembled a team that he thought would work together. He passed up many of the best college players to build his team.

They lacked international experience.

They had to quickly learn to work together.

They had to become a team.

Coach Herb Brooks and Team USA — Photo: Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated

Coach Herb Brooks and Team USA — Photo: Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated

Going into the Olympic Games, the Soviet team was favored to take the Gold Medal. They played with finesse. They had spent almost a year working together and perfecting their game.

As expected, the Soviet Union entered the medal rounds with a 5–0–0 record.

However, Team USA surprised everyone with a 4–0–1 record entering the medal round.

Coach Brooks confided to his coaching staff that he’d be happy with the Bronze Medal.

Team USA was headed for a showdown in the semi-final round against the Soviet Team.

The world watched.

In one of the most inspiring pre-game pep talks, Coach Brooks told Team USA:

“Great moments are born of great opportunity… You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.” — Herb Brooks

Powerful stuff, right?

Every time I read it, I feel the fire inside — and I don’t even play hockey.

In a nail-biting match, Team USA rallied to beat the Soviet Team 4–3 and U.S. Hockey changed forever.

It was a miracle on ice.

Frequently, many people think Team USA’s victory over the USSR was the moment that they won the Gold Medal.

Nope. They had one more game to play.

But that victory propelled Team USA to the final round where they beat Team Finland and took the Gold Medal.

Photo: US Hockey Hall of Fame

Photo: US Hockey Hall of Fame

In retrospect, Coach Brooks delivered a powerful, moving pep talk.

It resulted in a great moment.

Now imagine if Coach Brooks had framed his pep talk in a negative form, rather than a positive one. It might have gone something like this:

Great moments are not born of mediocre opportunity… You were not born to be a watcher. You were not meant to be home. This moment is not theirs.

The message is weak. The words don’t stir passion like their positive counterpart did.

Thankfully, Coach Brooks knew what he was doing.

Simple Tip #7 to Instantly Improve Your Writing

Write in positive form.

In general, positive form strengthens the writing.

Positive form is assertive and authoritative.

Negative form — especially when using the word not — feels noncommittal. Readers tend to want to know what is, rather than what is not.

Here are a couple of quick, simple examples:

1 — Negative version: She was not honest.

Positive version: She was dishonest.

2 — Negative version: Dave is not present.

Positive version: Dave is absent.

3 — Negative version: The competition is not weak.

Positive version: The competition is formidable.

Same meaning in each version, but the positive versions create stronger, more definitive statements.

There’s Always an Exception to the Rule

You can use negative form to your advantage.

For example, contrasting a negative statement against a positive statement is impactful — as shown in the well-known example below:

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” — President John F. Kennedy

Look for Ways to Strengthen Your Writing

These tips are meant to give you ideas for improvement.

Whether you’re writing a novel or writing an email, do a quick scan. Look for ways to strengthen your first draft.

It’s time well spent.

Remember: You may not be trying to win a Pulitzer. But you want to be taken seriously.

See what I did there?

Sometimes You Need a Little Creativity Boost

My free eBook might just help:

5 Exercises that Will Make You 10 Times More Creative

I use these exercises to keep the juices flowing — in myself and in my clients. (I am a marketing consultant, after all.)

You can follow my blog on Medium.

You can follow my journey to get published on Facebook.

Bryan Searing