Content Advice from Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway began his writing career as a reporter for the Kansas City Star.
When he won a Nobel Prize years later, he credited his success at writing to what he learned from his cub reporter’s style book, namely:
1. Use short sentences – Easier to read, easier to understand, easier to capture the interest of people with short attention spans.
2. Use short first paragraphs – Today it would be advisable to make most if not all of your paragraphs short.
3. Use vigorous English – Use active, energetic, bold words rather than a meek, passive voice. For example, “We’re breathlessly racing to the finish line” rather than “We’re on our way to the finish line.”
4. Keep it positive – Yes, you really do catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Hemingway also had his own tips for great writing, many of which easily translate to creating content for the Internet:
1. Write in the morning. 3 things happen when you write every morning. First, you’re writing when you’re fresh and likely to do the best work. Second, you’re getting your writing out of the way so that you can do other things the rest of the day. And third, you are creating a habit that will see you through to creating tons of great content.
2. Write while standing. When we’re seated at our computer our blood tends to drain from the brain. Activity, be it standing, pacing, knee bends, jumping jacks, etc. stimulates blood flow and brings much needed oxygen to the brain cells. Want to be more creative? Get more ideas? Feel more energetic? Then try standing when you write.
3. Love writing. You can’t force yourself to do something day after day that you dislike. But if you can fall in love with writing, you’ll find you wake up eager to rush to your computer and see what you compose next.
4. Keep track of your progress. Hemingway kept a board on his wall on which he kept a daily tally of how many words he wrote. You might keep a tally of how many blog posts, how many articles, how many pages of your new ebook, etc.. By keeping this tally in plain sight, you cannot fool yourself as to whether or not you’re doing the work.
5. Be in love. Maybe you can’t always control it or will it into being, but if you can fall in love with another person, or a passion, or simply with life itself, then you’ll find you have far more to say and you’re much more passionate about saying it. It’s as if the muses smile down on you and the well of creativity overflows – even if you’re writing something as simple as a blog post or article.
As Hemingway himself said, “It was necessary to get exercise, to be tired in the body, and it was very good to make love with whom you loved. That was better than anything.”
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