Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the National Bestseller Last Child in the Woods

Blog Posts: March 2018


A few years ago, I worked with a national awards program called Leadership for a Changing World. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation, it honored grassroots leaders who were making life better in communities of hardship and possibility. That program continued as an initiative of New York University|Wagner. Often, these inspiring people often did not think of themselves as leaders. Today, they're exactly the kind of leaders we need most. My job was to work with the award-winners on how to best frame and communicate their issues. As part of that work, I put together a list of characteristics of what I considered Leadership Writing. Today, these principles may seem archaic, even naive, but I continue to believe in their effectiveness and practice them. I hope these 15 principles are useful to you. Also, as you read the work of journalists, columnists, bloggers -- or listen to the speeches of politicians -- ask yourself if they exhibit these traits. My favorite leaders do. 

Leadership Writing ....

  1. Paints a picture of a world people will want to go to.
  2. Consists of one third complaint, two-thirds solution.
  3. Builds bridges rather than calling names.
  4. Compares and contrasts in a respectful way.
  5. Kills jargon.
  6. Appeals to higher values shared by the opposition.
  7. Offers contrarian, unexpected points of view.
  8. Undermines stereotypes, reaches beyond the writer's own culture.
  9. Anticipates unintended consequences.
  10. Avoids over-reliance on the “importance” of the issue. (Every issue is “important.”)
  11. Looks for the simplifying model.
  12. Helps people see what they already know but cannot picture.
  13. Uses humor whenever possible.
  14. Serves as an antidote to cultural depression.
  15. Offers accurate hope, because there is no practical alternative.
  16.  Read Full Post.


Jack London. Writing. Outdoors.

As mentioned is an earlier post, when working with grassroots leaders some years ago, my job was to help them communicate more effectively with the public -- something they usually did just fine on their own. Still, we all need a boost from time to time. For myself and for them, I gathered a collection of my favorite quotes from writers about writing -- and offered a few thoughts of my own:

“No Music + Bad TV = Bad Mood + No Pages."  — Hunter S. Thompson

“You only want to work on the stuff you're not supposed to be working on. That's how it always is. I'll always be working on five things at once, usually with those documents open at the same time because if I get stuck somewhere I'll jump over to something else. That's how my head has always worked. I don't know if it's 'cause I watched too much TV as a kid or what. It really could be that.”   — Dave Eggers, author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"

“We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little.” — 
Anne Lamott, author of “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” Read Full Post.