A lot of great things have been said about writing.
This would seemingly be appropriate, as writers are supposed to be the ones who put into words things that affects us.
As writers, our words can inspire, anger, provoke, and even bring joy to those reading them.
Today, I’d like to focus on inspiration.
Below I present to you five of the most important quotes ever uttered about writing, and tell them how you can apply their lessons to your writing online.
1.) By Isaac Bashevis Singer
The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend.
Did you know that Leo Tolstoy was prone to both writer’s block and rejected many sections of his works multiple times?
You wouldn’t think so, if you’ve ever tried to pick up War and Peace with one hand. 😉
Yet it remains true for all writers: not many create gold on the first effort.
Rarely does great writing get created without multiple forms of refinement, rewrites, and even entirely new drafts.
So, while you may feel the wastebasket (or your desktop’s recycle bin) is an enemy, you should start to look at it as your friend.
Your wastebasket is what gets the “drivel” out of you, and allows you to finally come up with the perfect passage, post, or even line for whatever you are writing.
No writer can succeed without a few failures.
2.) By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Easy reading is damn hard writing.
Writing on the web is a relatively new frontier for writers given the lengthy presence of writing throughout human history.
Writing is certainly different on this new platform, as writers realize that lengthy passages and articulate wording must give way to concise information and generous spacing in order to succeed online (that’s not to say that the former has no place in writing of course, it just doesn’t do as well on the web).
What some people don’t realize is that this “easy reading” really is damn hard writing.
Writers on the web must embrace the Ernest Hemingway style of writing: pruning their writing down to the absolute essentials, while still making it interesting to read.
That’s because the web is impatient, and writers must craft their content to fit certain molds expected by internet users…
…Yet writers also need to give their works personality, and always make sure that they are writing something memorable.
Ernest Hemingway made it look easy, but even he would admit that it’s damn hard work to create “efficient” writing; it can be much harder to take out than to put more in for many writers.
Yet we must.
So the next time you are struggling with editing your content down to the necessities while still making it something worth reading, remember those words.
Easy reading is damn hard writing.
3.) By Francis Bacon
Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.
It took me a long time as a writer to realize the importance of this quote.
I would often gets bits of inspiration, only to try to rely on my brain to remember them and sort out my train of though when I finally had time to sit down and actually write.
Needless to say, it was a bad way of dealing with these moments of insight.
Our poor brains have enough to deal with, and trying to retrace thoughts that just sort of come to you isn’t effective and can be downright frustrating: I’ve beaten myself up more than a few times over forgetting a really great idea for an article.
Don’t make the same mistake.
Whether for your own projects, paid articles, guest blogging, or just writing for fun, always keep a pen & notepad with you at all times (a small one will do), and when you have a moment of insight, don’t let it pass you by.
Don’t just write out the general idea either: if your train of though takes you places, allow yourself to follow along for a bit, jotting down other ideas of where you can take this new piece of writing.
It may end up being a total piece of junk, but at least you’ll know.
There’s nothing more annoying as a writer than trying to recall a great idea for a piece of writing, only to have lost it as your brain made room for other things.
Write down every decent idea that comes to you, you never know when it will turn into something wonderful.
4.) By Mark Twain
Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
Leave it to Mark Twain to find a humorous angle on very… I mean DAMN solid writing advice. 😉
Twain’s real meaning here is keep out the fluff.
Read the bold part again.
I could have said “…real meaning here is to write with a terse, economic tone that focuses on creating value and getting the point across to the reader in as few words as possible…”
…But that would be fluff!
If all else fails, remember online writing’s most important principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid!
5.) By Anton Chekhov
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
Given the above example, you might think that I don’t support this quote.
Just because you are keeping your writing focused and without excess doesn’t mean that you can write without description.
You just have to know when description is needed.
For instance, on my post about how to break through writer’s block, I avoided personal stories as they didn’t have much to offer on getting through writer’s block.
My time there was much better served delivering “just the facts, ma’am”, as that is what the readers wanted.
However, in my post about how I got a Facebook fanpage to 6,683 likes in 4 months, I positively needed a story in order to back up my claims.
The amount of description necessary also depends on where you are writing and who you are writing for.
If you are giving personal development advice on your own blog, a ton of personality is necessary, descriptions are welcome, and personal stories are greatly appreciated.
If you are writing a piece on the best web analytics services to a marketing crowd, the time your website got a ton of visits will probably not matter much to them: they want the data, and they want it yesterday.
So before you go spilling your heart out on every post, start really understanding your audience.
Sometimes they just want to know that the moon is out.
And sometimes they want to know how it’s pale light glimmers dimly through your window.
Are you a writer using WordPress? Want to know how you can use content marketing and proven research to build awareness for your writing project or blog? Then you definitely need to check out Sparring Mind, the content marketing blog for WordPress users like you, backed by real science, case studies, and interviews with influencers.