I spent much of my marketing career at The New York Times, so it’s fitting that I picked a newspaper term – tk – as the name of my blog. When deadlines loomed and material was still forthcoming, ‘tk,’ (short for ‘to kum’) was placed in the text, alerting editors and pressmen that there was information to be inserted before a piece was set to print. This convention increased the efficiency of the copy desk, and (almost always) prevented the paper from going to press with missing information.
Using “tk” also happens to be one of my favorite writing hacks. Like these goats jumping over a mountain crevice, using tk can help you leap over the most daunting of obstacles.
Writing is an act of conceit. You must successfully hold on to the assumption that your insight and interpretation of information is accurate, valuable, unique and worth someone’s time. It’s no wonder that writers sometimes suffer from imposter syndrome – that feeling that one is not a “real” writer. For me, there’s nothing that triggers imposter syndrome more than facing something I can’t readily explain, either for lack of information or understanding.
That’s where my friend tk comes in. If I need to know how the number of countries where the U.S. has military bases or how many calendars were sold last year, instead of stopping to research I type in tk where a number would be. If I don’t recall a quote, I’ll use tk rather than go back to the transcript.
Momentum is everything. I embrace the saying “write hot and edit cold,” because I’ve learned that my first draft is where the passion lives, and staying in the flow is the best way for me to produce copy with heart. By using tk, I can move forward, rather than fall into the sinkhole of research. And once the draft is done, I’ll can go back to each tk and address what’s missing and start chiseling the piece into its final shape.