When you begin to write, the words and phrases that leap into your mind will be the ones you hear most often. Go ahead and write them down.
The best writers begin by just blurting it out.
A willingness to write badly is the key to writing well.
After winning the Pulitzer prize for fiction, James Michener said,
“I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I’m one of the world’s great rewriters.”
Another Pulitzer prize winner, Bernard Malamud said,
“The idea is to get the pencil moving quickly. Once you’ve got some words looking back at you, you can take two or three, throw them away and look for others.”
The legendary Terry Southern tells us,
“The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock—shock is a worn-out word—but astonish.”
When you have written all that you wanted to say, look at it. When you see an overused phrase, replace it with a string of words that mean the same thing, but glow with a rainbow of color.
When you notice a defeated, predictable word, replace it with one that carries a handgun.
When the words staring back at you make you laugh a little, then look for a particularly arresting phrase – a phrase that carries handcuffs on its belt– and move it to the top of the stack.
You’ll often find your strongest opening line about one third of the way down from the top. I don’t know why opening lines try to hide there, but that’s usually where you’ll find them.
Now that you’ve got a strong opening line and a story full of colorful phrases, let’s “Thomas Jefferson” that thing. Right after he wrote that snarky letter to King George, Thomas told us,
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
Boring people wrap a lot of words around a small idea.
Fascinating people deliver big ideas quickly.
Shorter hits harder.
You’re going to have some free time during the holidays, so write me a 600-word story. It can be about anything you want except politics. It can be true or fictional, happy or sad, tender or defiant. But it can’t be boring.
Indiana Beagle will choose the best of these and post one each week in the rabbit hole during the first few months of 2020. Be sure to attach an interesting photo of yourself. Also, include your mailing address in case Indy wants to send you a little something. You can email the beagle at indy@WizardOfAds.com
We’ll talk again after Christmas.
May your holiday sparkle with laughter!
Roy H. Williams
Jeffrey Gitomer is the all-time best-selling author of sales books; bigger even than Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, or Napoleon Hill. Gitomer’s “Little Red Book of Selling” (Bard Press, of course) is a classic. Back in 2006, when Gitomer had just published his second book, our own roving reporter Rotbart was hosting a live weekly radio show called Newsroom Confidential in Los Angeles. This week R.R. Rotbart will replay his amazing interview with Jeffrey Gitomer from 14 years ago as a Monday Morning Memo stocking stuffer. The show will start the moment you arrive at MondayMorningRadio.com