15 Great Authors’ Tips for Writing
All strong content, regardless of format, contains the same elements of great writing at its core. Writing, at its best, understands its audience and tells timeless stories from which readers learn and expand their horizons.
The same is true of content marketing; it’s not rehashed marketing-speak but rather information that informs and entertains. To help you take your content marketing to the next level, here are writing tips from fifteen great authors.
- To write well, express yourself like common people, but think like a wise man. Or, think as wise men do, but speak as the common people do.
— Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) Greek philosopher.
Heed Aristotle when you develop content. Use language that your customers understand and eliminate the marketing jargon that’s been cleansed of any human emotion.
- Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
— W. H. Auden (1907-1973) English-born poet and man of letters.
Many marketer’s content is focused on a limited topic. What’s important is being authentic and true to your offering and your audience.
- A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
— Richard Bach (1936-?) American writer.
In terms of content marketing, what’s important is knowing about your subject whether it’s your product or service, customer or event. To this end, it’s useful to have the knowledgable members of your staff create your content whether they’re in customer service, product management, sales or some other department. Then have their writing edited by a professional copyeditor.
- Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.
— Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) German philosopher.
Strong content marketing has three similar phases. They’re the creation of the information that’s best written by an employee close to the product. During the editorial aspect of content creation, the piece is copyedited to ensure that the language and voice are consistent with the organization’s brand. Lastly, there’s the technical phase where the content is posted online and it’s made social media friendly with appropriate links and social bookmarking.
- I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.
— Truman Capote (1924-1984) American author.
Editing your work is critical to getting it down to its essence. This especially holds for today’s content marketers who are competing with other messages and time.
- An author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
— Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) British politician and author.
While content marketing is important to promote one’s company, products and brands, you shouldn’t fill your content with promotion. Remember that you’re writing to help your readers learn more to help them fulfill their needs.
- A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.
— William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist.
When developing content marketing, you need to be willing to shine light on a subject. Faulkner’s guidance is particularly true for bloggers who write with a level of transparency.
- Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home.
— Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Austrian physician.
In terms of content marketing, analogies can be useful for showing readers how to do something based on what they already know. Alternatively, you can use another form of content and put your products in familiar setting for viewers.
- Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.
— Goethe, German writer
Every writer incorporates part of himself in his writing. This can be particularly useful for content marketing since it adds a human element that readers can relate to.
- One gains universal applause who mingles the useful with the agreeable, at once delighting and instructing the reader.
— Horace (BC 65-8) Latin lyric poet.
Content marketing takes its cue from Horace by providing useful information that helps consumers solve their problems by using your firm’s offering better. It also succeeds when it’s entertaining.
- The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.
— Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) British author.
You must read widely and be influenced by others. With social media content, this translates to being able to link to other work and cross-promote it.
- I hate the actor and audience business. An author should be in among the crowd, kicking their shins or cheering them on to some mischief or merriment.
— D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) English writer.
To create great content marketing, go to those employees who understand your target market and their needs. They understand their challenges and can develop useful information to help them.
- I try to leave out the parts that people skip.
— Elmore Leonard, American author.
Given that people consume information on-the-go in small bites, it’s important to create your content so they can skip it. Think short phrases and bullet points.
- Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.
— Ezra Pound (1885-1972) American poet, critic and intellectual.
As Ezra Pound states, you must keep your content marketing direct and to the point while telling your readers the truth. This means get rid of the flowery prose. Offer only useful information.
- Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
— William Wordsworth, American poet.
To engage your reader and draw him into your content, it’s critical to incorporate an emotional element. At the core of all social media content is the fact that it needs to have a human voice.
As these great authors show, content creation can learn from classic writers. Strong content requires understanding your audience, telling a story and editing your writing down. After eliminating excess words, the writing that remains should read like a real human voice and provide ever-lasting lessons.
Do you have any favorite author’s quotes about writing? If so, would you please add them to this list?
Here are some related articles:
- ABCs of Content Marketing
- 42 Ways to Repurpose Your Content Marketing
- 12 Classic Back-to-School Topics for Content Marketing
Photo credit: The Jefferson County Public Library via Flickr
Quote sources: http://www.quotegarden.com/writing.html and http://en.proverbia.net/citastema.asp?tematica=1323