10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

  1. Write.
  2. Write more.
  3. Write even more.
  4. Write even more than that.
  5. Write when you don’t want to.
  6. Write when you do.
  7. Write when you have something to say.
  8. Write when you don’t.
  9. Write every day.
  10. Keep writing.

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About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and host of New Rainmaker. Get more from Brian on .

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  1. hmm…how can i write when i don’t want to and when i don’t have something to say?

    • I dunno, don’t the voices inside your head have any suggestions? If not, maybe you aren’t supposed to be a writer?

    • Find a nice quiet place to think, and let the ideas for posts and what to write about come naturally.

    • We all get writer’s block. Here’s how to get over it. Go outside with a notepad and pen. Find a nice and quiet beauty spot and then just sit quietly and write whatever comes to mind. Or you can brainstorm your interests. Or even better, practise introspection for 30 minutes a day – you’ll soon come up with plenty of ideas or things to write about.

  2. Just do it. ;)

  3. I don’t understand! WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?!?????? Honestly, it’s like a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, covered in secret sauce.

    (somewhat related)

  4. Thank goodness I know you better John, or I might think you’re being serious. Some of the people I’ve run up against this week would make your head swim…

  5. Excellent! Yes we have to just WRITE!

  6. Well said. When I get my blog out of beta, my goal is to write one unique article everyday, complemented with 4-5 “news” articles.

  7. The Zen of writing:

    In the beginning writing was just writing.
    In the middle writing was much more than just writing.
    In the end writing was just writing again.

    … don’t know why I wrote this comment…

  8. mmmm…I’ve had writer’s block for 4 days now, and I’m not even a writer. Thanks for the sound advice.

    • Writers get writers block like plumbers get plumbers block … they don’t.

      Writers write. Plumbers plumb. You can call in sick every once in a while but, for the most part, you need to just live up to the sign on your truck.

  9. funny, i feel like this all of the time…best post ever on your blog. i strongly suggest the “page a day” no matter what thing, whenever it happens…now keeping a private journal to make myself write even if it’s just rants…it’ll be fun to look at in 50 years if i’m still alive…

    • A funny thing happens when you do this. I set a goal of 1,500 words a day split 1,000 to a novel and 500 to a blog post or two. That’s not too ambitious, but it is enough to loom large if I let it go more than one or two days.

      So I stick with it by beginning. That’s all … by beginning. I have a daily journal that I jot a few notes into. That seems to get the finger juice flowing and, first thing you know, it’s a rare day that doesn’t find me at the 4,000+ word mark long before I’m actually ready to quit.

      Now, these are all 1st draft words … but you can’t edit a clean page. These words put me in position to edit, save and post.

      To go from nothing to 4,000 words … from no idea what I want to write to having too many ideas to commit to paper all in the same day … is a good feeling, somewhat analogous to sex except not quite as sticky.

  10. The best advice I’ve read on your excellent blog, and just the kick up the backside I needed as I procrastinate about my own nascent blog. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  11. Maybe you can change ur tagline to ->
    Copybloggers: Just Write It.
    Haha!

  12. Yep there’s no substitute for the real thing.

    And writer’s block is just a pile of crap. Imagine using that excuse in another profession…

    “I just can’t work today man…I’ve got bricklayer’s block!”

    Just write anything.

    I’ve found one of the greatest secrets to writing well is having done it seriously for 33 years.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  13. Very profound. I’ve posted this to my Singing Songwriter blog and linked it to my Yahoo! songwriting group. The fact is, practice makes perfect; the more you write, the better you get, no matter what you’re writing. Thanks for this article.

    Kenny Hart

  14. Don’t you think 9 & 10 are kind of similar? Are you really trying to stretch nine steps into ten?

  15. I get your point, but gee, if a person doesn’t want to write, or doesn’t feel he has anything to say, why encourage him to write? There are plenty of other writers, and I’m subscribed to more of them than is healthy anyway.

    Damned difficult making a living writing. I enjoy writing, and even have had fun doing it, but only as an amateur. The worlds of enjoyable writing and professional writing have no overlap in my experience. My hat’s off to anyone who can make it work for them.

  16. Jay, see my last post about feedback.

    John, this article is for people who want to write better, pro or amateur (see the headline). :)

    Not all writing needs to be public. Great writers put their shit in the waste basket.

    Hemingway said that, not me.

  17. You left out one really important one:

    READ.

    You can write all you want but if you don’t read what and how better writers write you will not improve as much as you could otherwise.

  18. This is so true. You only improve by writing a lot. The more you write, the better you get, and your work will attract individuals who can offer you suggestions, criticisms, or feedback so that you’re consistently growing.

  19. Dammit Quad, you ruined my next post:

    How to Become a More Successful Blogger

    1. Read books
    2. Read books
    3. Read books
    4. Read books
    5. Read books
    6. Read books
    7. Read books
    8. Read books
    9. Read books
    10. Read books

  20. Very true. When I started writing a monthly eZine, it was so hard. It is easier now that I write a weekly eZine, plus two daily blogs, plus a 1/2 book chapter every day.

    Just like anything else, it takes practice. Part of the practice is the skill of writing — but part is the habit.

    Thanks!

  21. Follow up with 3 Ways to Put Your Writing in Perspective:
    1. Read when you’re not writing
    2. Write when you’d rather be reading
    3. Edit when you’re sober
    Number 3: “Edit when…” is open to personal interpretation.

  22. Pete, I love it. I say this:

    Write at night, edit in the morning.

    That way, I admit to nothing. ;)

  23. Ditto Kenny Hart. Some of the posts on here are better songwriting advice than a LOT of songwriting advice.

    Someone once said that the value of writing daily, around the same time, is that the Muse learns your office hours.

    Never met anyone with talking block (for more than a second).

  24. This is something I think about sometimes – that is, does writing just to write improve your writing?

    Or do you need focus in your writing to have any improvement at all?

    Brian – I just started reading your blog (even though I’d come across it a couple of times prior) – Great work

    • Writing well is a progressive thing. Writing often gives improvement the opportunity to happen. Writing purposefully insures that it will … given opportunity.

      One of the ‘reads’ on my reading list is a steady diet of ‘how to write’ books. I’m not ready for “the Great American Novel” just yet, but working the exercises in these books has definitely had a positive impact on my writing. Having worked the exercises, my mind and fingers are more closely attuned to what is happening in my own writing.

      Recent reads include “Spunk & Bite” (Plotnik), “A Dash of Style” (Lukeman), “Write From Life” (Files). Presently I am reading “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” (Browne & King). I can recommend them all. Files has a nagging ego problem in that she persistently refers to writers as “my student”. She never says ‘former student’ nor does she simply refer to the named individuals as ‘the writer’ or ‘the author’. Thus, she takes far too much credit for herself for someone who spoke well of humility early in the book. This is galling. Nonetheless, if you can only read one of the above, make it hers … she’s a good teacher, if a bit possessive of her students.

      THIS is what I do on the muse’s lunch hour. The more I read and the more I write, the shorter those lunch hours are becoming.

  25. So your saying I should write…

    Hey, by the way, Chee Kui- great catch phrase! lol

  26. So your saying I should write…

    Well, I’d actually say…

    So you’re saying I should write….

    But that’s just me.

  27. Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear before. I’ll put it this way: Someone who has what it takes to write professionally shouldn’t have to be told that writing is real drudgery at times. Either you decide it’s worth it and just do it, or you do something else for a living.

    And to answer your question, even though I have no intention of being a professional blogger or any kind of pro writer, I subscribed here because to learn more and make my amateur scribblings less amateurish. Some days I don’t feel like writing or have nothing to say. I can see why a person whose paycheck depends on what he gets down on paper would have to know those 10 steps.

    But I’ve also read your posts about writing for customers, and they don’t include making snarky “read the headline” comments or misinterpreting not feeling like writing at a given time to not wanting to write at all. So maybe I’ve been in the wrong place all along.

    Anyway, good luck with your business…

  28. Lol nolimitslady, I m glad u like it. Or maybe try this one: Stop whining and just write it.

  29. Hello. As a writer there are times when I really don’t feel like writing. Too stressed out and not motivated at all. What I do is take a breather, something to make me feel better. Then I get back to writing, and realize why I love doing it in the first place.
    Thanks for the helpful tips! I really enjoy reading your blog. =)

  30. But I’ve also read your posts about writing for customers, and they don’t include making snarky “read the headline” comments or misinterpreting not feeling like writing at a given time to not wanting to write at all. So maybe I’ve been in the wrong place all along.

    You think that was snarky? Sorry.

    Anyone who wants to be a better writer should write as much as possible. If you don’t feel like doing the work, it’s just like anything else. You won’t be as good as someone who does.

  31. RE: Read books (NSFW)

  32. Okay, I’m printing this as big as possible and taping it on a wall.

  33. My name is Robert Bruce and I approve of this post.

  34. Thank you for this post. At last i see someone talk about this. For me, Just write anything even though you got nothing.
    Whenever in doubt, just post it. Alright, i know my english is not good, but just write anyway. :)
    Been reading silently from the feeds… but this post just hit the nail on me. Thanks again :D

  35. While this is cute and pulls in comments and links for you, it’s not entirely correct.

    It’s missing at least three essential steps:

    - Read, read, read
    - Edit mercilessly
    - Get your stuff reviewed mercilessly

    Without these steps, you are not going to become a good writer, even if you follow your ten steps.

    Yehuda

  36. Great post! Great humour! This is what I call a very good way of driving home an obvious point which most people understand but don’t want to accept! Indeed, practice makes a person perfect, or at least better! :)

  37. Thanks for the tips, I felt free, to translate them to German.
    And thanks for the inspiring comments.

  38. Can you write, once you stop thinking???

  39. I have known this for some time…but I still can’t force myself to write even though I know it is such a useful skill.

  40. I might add a bonus:

    Write ANYTHING if you can’t write something

  41. When I taught writing courses as a grad student, I told them writing was like a muscle. The more they exercise it, the stronger it gets. Simple analogy, but lacking the pinache of your 10-step program.

  42. Haha! Totally true, Brian. Practice makes perfect–even if some practice sessions result in complete garbage.

  43. My two cents:
    You can write all the time, but remember, no one else has to see it, and it never has to be published. Just writing allows your brain to release some of it’s “hold-ups” and eventually produce amazing copy. This is one area I still need to work on in my professional life.

  44. Great advice.

  45. WRITE: Words Represent, Impress, Tell, Entertain

    This acronym just came to my mind.
    Clara

  46. I can’t help thinking how much clearer Brian’s message could have been if accompanied – as his posts usually are – with an excellent photograph to illustrate his point.

  47. Keep It Simple Stupid! :P

  48. Along with writing…

    1. Read good writers
    2. Read good writers more.
    3. Read good writers even more.
    4. Read good writers even more than that.
    5. Read good writers when you don’t want to.
    6. Read good writers when you do.
    7. Read good writers when you have something to say.
    8. Read good writers when you don’t.
    9. Read good writers all the time.
    10. Keep Reading good writers.

  49. I totally agree with the advice “just write” x 10, which will help you become a better writer, but with one addition:

    11. Don’t publish everything you write.

  50. Dude, honestly this post was a total waste of time. Peace

  51. Great advice. Will try to follow it.

  52. So what you’re really saying is, “Omit Words.”

    Got it ; )

    -Chuck
    http://www.ihateyourjob.com

  53. I would add:

    Read books that have nothing to do with the niche you are writing about.

    Reading novels actually grooms my mind for writing about SEO.

  54. May I suggest an addendum? Write. Get someone to read it; listen to what they say. Write some more. Repeat.

  55. Can be summed up as “Write”. :D

  56. Grace, you’re absolutely right.

    But would the impact be the same? ;)

  57. Creative use of repetition to drive the point home

  58. What if I write something? Do you think that would help?

  59. Oh my goodness. This proves once again that you are my hero. Valuable tip that put a smile on my face. Love it!

  60. I’m totally with Andrew Cavanagh on this one — “And writer’s block is just a pile of crap. Imagine using that excuse in another profession…”

    Absolutely.

    There’s nothing like a pressing need to pay the bills, to teach someone to get over themselves, buckle down, and write something.

    Yes, reading is important.
    But a writer is one who writes — end of definition.

    (It really does help to carry an old-fashioned notebook and pencil in your back pocket, by the way. No excuse then for not writing, writing, writing… )

  61. Just do it. Exactly! With practice, writing improves. Writing is a passion, not everyone has, but if you read this blog then that should apply to everyone.

    Keep writing!

  62. Does this comment qualify as writing? :)

  63. “Write when you don’t want to.”

    Tell that to me at 6AM :)

  64. I wonder if prose writers avail themselves of the same obvious-but-overlooked technology we songwriters use…speaking and recording our writing on our cell phones, digital recorders when we’re out and can’t write things down…

    that is, if “writing” is defined as the meaningful placement of words, one after another…not necessarily necessitating the moving of fingers lining up groups of letters, like loading boxcars on a freight train. “Always writing” can sound painful to some, I fear. Need not be.

    To me, being a constant writer doesn’t mean being a constant scribe. Talking the writing can work, and if you record it, you’re covered in case you accidentally create something worth saving.

  65. Write on! Right on!

  66. “Read” and “Read Books” are great, but before I skimmed the comment section I thought to myself…

    You left out “Read Blogs”. Yes, I suppose it’s similar, but then again, it’s different too.

    E.G., you need more paragraph breaks in blogs, otherwise they are difficult to look at. You don’t pick that up from reading a “book”.

    Nor will you realize that the most successful bloggers link out to other bloggers, and that linking out creates value to your readers.

    So let’s add “Read Blogs”, as at least number 11, and I’d argue, possibly #1.

    After all, if you’re not reading (at all, that is), you have no shot at writing anything imho.

  67. I’d throw some reading in there as well :)

  68. Unfortunately, more writing doesn’t work for everyone. I have a co-worker who was been “writing” for more than 6 years … and hasn’t improved a bit.

    Reading his work is like constantly tripping over your own two feet.

  69. I actually think the post has meaning. All he is saying is that if you want to be a better writer, practice, practice, practice. I still mess up on the smallest things. Good job Brian!

  70. You make it sound so easy, wish I could just write anytime I felt like it.

  71. i write crap, ten years later is still crap. i write and improve crap, then years later, it’s a much better crap.

    i can’t pull this one off!

    Brian, only you can write something like that, and still make sense:)

  72. No wisdom works for everyone.

    But the day I read this, I opened up Walter Mosley’s book, This Year You Write Your Novel, to the first page of advice…and it was…to write daily.

    For those that have the discretion to edit themselves, the intelligence to learn by doing, and the humility to absorb and gain from critique…the 10 Steps are useful advice.

    It’s also good for those who wait to write until the inspiration fairy lands on them.

  73. 0. Read
    0.9 Think
    ….
    9.9 Read
    9.99 Think

  74. for such a short post, who would have guessed there would be so many comments.

    But i agree, you couldnt be more right

  75. Hello,

    I’m very much impressed by the way the author tells everybody to write, write and write. I’m also fond of writing, reading and expressing the things i have read and wrote about. But one thing that stop me from doing so is the kind of feeling that may be my writing is not that good. As the author said, the act of perfection always follows practice. So I’m starting to write this comment. Let it be bad and let it be like a scribble, I’m happy that i have started something after reading this post. People can comment on my post and suggest me or motivate me to write more as well.

    V V S Kumar.

  76. Jay Cross, Jr. :

    A friend of mine liked this post and pointed out..

    This list forgets the other half of the equation: Read! Read outside of your comfort zone. Variety in reading can be a crucial way to increase writing ability.

  77. Simple … and true.

  78. Hello, my name is Alice and I’ve fallen in love with this post. One of the best and succinct post EVER.

  79. I love this post, Brian. I had started several novels, dribbling out to nothing after a few chapters each time until I took on the NaNoWriMo challenge last year to write 50,000 words in the month of November. If I felt stuck I did whatever I had to do to move the story — sometimes by doing something wacky like having my characters talk about me not having an idea and what they would like to do, but I made it to the finish line. I learned a lot about the middle and end of a novel! I also stopped worrying about being perfect and allowed myself to have fun writing just for the love of it.

    All that creativity within us is potential until we get it out into the light of day whether we just write for our personal pleasure or to share with others. And I must admit I would have loved to be able to go through Ernest Heminway’s wastebasket!!

    Thanks for a great post, Brian.

  80. I was forwarded here by Clint Watson at http://www.fineartviews.com

    How true! Works the same for painters. Can read all you want, but ditto CheeKui: Just grab yourself a pair of Nikes (and a paintbrush) and just DO IT!

  81. It’s like wanting to know the meaning of: GABBO…GABBO…GABBO!

    I don’t think they’re giving us enough information.

  82. nice tips and it made me laugh….

  83. Answering John Stansbury: it’s like Practice makes perfect, although Ted Williams said it better: Practice perfect makes perfect :)

  84. hahaha….at first when i read this post….i laugh about it but in a way of taking it as an good tips and advice. Short articles and good advice…. :)

  85. easier said than done….but said well….well done.

  86. Love this list… I’d only add rewrite ;)

  87. Always a voracious reader, this is perhaps the best advice I can give. Sometimes, inspiration comes from some inane piece of material you read that you never thought you’d have a use for.

    Also, talk to people. As a freelance writer, you may feel isolated and may not get much outside interaction. So, make sure to talk to the cashier inthe grocery store, the old man who always sits on the park bench where you run, the old lady always working in her yard, the kids who play basketball in front of your house.

    Writing is, after all communication. To stay plugged in, that means interacting with the people who cross our paths every day.

    THIS will make you a better writer (in my humble opinion).

    Sincerely,
    Yuwanda Black

  88. this is good advice,but what are some possible steps to become published,for example at a young age?

    • Rebecca, have you done the first ten steps yet?

      No one cares how old you are, they only care about how well you write. There isn’t a different color rejection slip based on age.

      A rejection slip is a step up from silence. A rejection slip with a note is useful information if you are mature enough to use it. A rejection slip with the instruction to re-write and a note why (“weak lead character”) is golden. Re-write and re-submit … you’re on to something and it smells like money.

      When you write really well, get a copy of the Writers Digest and find an agent who handles the type of writing you do. Contact them exactly as requested. It’s a lot easier to get published the second time, it’s a bear to get published the first time. Yeah, it’s frustrating. Just keep trying, anyway.

      Look up (Google) Heinlein’s Rules. That’s what you need in order to turn a hobby into a career.

  89. Read good stuff. That sure helps me write better. Classic books, good magazines, other blogs.

  90. Your post kills procrastination. In other words, it inspires all writers. I have been wanting to write one killer post this week. Somehow, I haven’t been able to start.

    Now I feel like writing something. At least a few words.

    Thank you very much.
    Sudheer

  91. good article.

  92. practice makes perfect in any field

  93. very nice advise…:)

  94. I loved this post! I’ll be linking to it soon. Thanks for the great post. :)

    Debbie

  95. well i was astonished at the points myself, but i must say u are indeed right, the only way to write a good blog is to continue to write and before long ur’re there. i will keep to this advice tanx a great deal

  96. Haha! So practical.

  97. Sharkyx above was wrong…he should see some of the junk I see in the real estate blog world..absolutely pathetic

  98. i agree with you,and now i start with your blog ,
    and i am trying. i think you are just serious for this..

  99. I will try. And it seems it is going to work.

  100. Great point to make :) clear and simple

  101. Nice post =)
    This is something I really need to work on.

  102. I completely understand the point of this post.

    The more you write, the better writer you will become.

    What I don’t completely understand, is how (judging from the comments) this comes as a surprise to people.

    Subtract the “writing” aspect of this post and this applies to everything else in life, the more you do, or practice anything, the better you will be at it.

    The style (way it was written) of the post is just a way to get the message out in an expeditious, and easily comprehendable manner – which I feel worked.

    But, really, people should already know this stuff!

    Great post.

  103. I think the hardest part is coming up with the RIGHT thing to say.

    I’ll toil, pound the delete button, stare at my notes… until finally, the one sentence I’ve been waiting for will pop into my head and it all flows from there.

  104. easier said than done….but said well….well done.

  105. Excellent post! I am a new writer. I couldn’t able to write in the past. But now, I can write easily. I don’t have much knowledge in subject. But I think, I will get over this problem. Thanks for this post.

  106. Writing is not easy , but with time you get better ,also your site visitors many times will tell you what they are interested in, so that helps with the writing process

  107. There are so many of us now writing, that it is always an inspiration when i come across articles that look to widen their boundary surrounding their vocabulary.

  108. Gr8 advice. Thanx a bunch!

  109. As a guy who loves brevity. This is an A +

  110. Someone once said that writer’s block is actually “lazy research syndrome.”

  111. Wow – probably the most helpful advice about writing that I’ve ever seen…

    I first got a hint of this from the movie “Throw Mama From The Train.” One of the characters teaches writing, and he would repeat “writers write.”

    • Harold Geneen (guy who built IT&T into the mega-corp that it used to be [after he retired, his successors sold off a lot of it]) said, simply, “Managers must manage.” His 1984 book “Managing” was required reading for Pizza College (Domino’s Pizza / RPM Franchise management development course).

      He meant, I took it, that managers are both driven (internally) to manage but also compelled by external forces to the performance of their duties.

      The same ideas work for writers. If something inside you does not look at the mirror and see a writer, by all means take up some other occupation. On the other hand, if that’s what the reflection in the glass tells you, then jump into the water and write as if your very life depended on it.

      It does.

  112. Yeah a good writer should be writing. Because this is what he’s ment to do! So if he isn’t writing all day he’s not a good writer

    Very nice post

    thank you

  113. always remind yourself keep writing.
    Keep keeping on.

  114. Write for the intended audience, not your ego and not with keyword stuffed dribble.

  115. I guess that’s one way to improve. Writing is the gateway to knowledge

  116. Practice makes perfect! Applies to other fields and professions too.

  117. superb, great advice. its exactly what i need to hear.

  118. Great advice, Brian.
    I realized that long time ago and started my blog. I hope that this strategy will pay off.

  119. Brian, you did it .. but why 10 only?
    you could make them even 100…
    write… write again
    write at breakfast, write at brunch, write at lunch … write while sleeping .. :) kidding…
    practice make the man perfect….
    so your advice was great.

  120. though i enjoy videoblogging, lately i have been working on my writing style.

    i’m writing more and more each day.
    researching. writing. revising. and more writing.

    now, i writing text articles along with my videos blogs.

    great post!

  121. Thanks for this great post it really helps me a lot thanks
    bookmarked !

  122. Great post! Great humor! This is what I call a very good way of driving home an obvious point which most people understand but don’t want to accept! Indeed, practice makes a person perfect, or at least better!

  123. As funny as this is, it the truth, mhmm, practice makes perfect.

  124. hahaha, this post make me laugh, i like it… yeah just keep on writing..

  125. Writing can be complicated, especially if you have a deadline! Great Article! Thanks!

  126. I agree. Take a look at my first posts in my blog Gloson Blog. How childlike they are! Actually, I am a kid :)

  127. Hi,

    Well, when i first clicked on the link i was a little bit disappointed because i thought you might come up with a great technique that helps me to become a better writer but then i realized that this is the only way to become a better writer ;)
    so, thanks a lot :)

    cya :)

  128. Absolutely write, write, write. Doing so will help you become a better writer–to a point.

    You have many ideas about which you want to write, but can you deliver them well? The writing quality and effectiveness is also important. Poor writing will cause the best ideas fail to make an impression on your readers.

    Fortunately, writing training is available on the web for nearly no cost, such as Writing Tips for a Year and other resources.

  129. I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT!!!!
    WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!
    Thank you for inspiring & motivating me…you are brilliant!!
    Do you always get such a response from your posts?
    You are obviously doing something ‘write’ :)

  130. Hello, such a great post, I think no body can give this idea as much simple as you gave, I really like it and also book marked :)

  131. UGH. That is, unfortunately, exactly what I needed to read right now.

  132. I took me a long time to catch on tho the value of this post. I have finally started writting everyday.

  133. I can’t agree more!

  134. Very good ! I agree the only way to improve whatever you are doing is keep it up! Keep doing!

  135. LOL, brilliant! That really is the key.

  136. Short and sweet.

    Summaries the essence of everything.

  137. hmm…i like #5

    (I didn’t wanna write this by the way ; ))

  138. In essence: stop thinking you can’t and start acting out the CAN.

    websitePROFITS: Profit Boosting Tips in 37 words or less!

  139. Among the previous 138 comments on a blog post as simple and profound as Churchill’s famous, simple, and profound “Never Give Up” speech, I missed any recommendation to read good copywriters.

    Is Dickens as helpful as Bob Bly, Milton as Gary Halbert? The latter are copywriters, the former icons of English literature. If you’re doing copywriting or writing with the eventual goal of persuading or enticing, read those who have been there and done that.

    Of course, if your business is selling poetry, by all means read Milton. If you’re in the business of “X,” by all means read good authors in the field of “X.”

    Read relevant stuff.

  140. Very informative – thanks for this.

    Keep writing!

  141. haha, good one. For blogs could work but I don’t think it would for writing books. Actually it would work for anything that gets better using “frequency over quality”.

  142. Anyone who is interested in blogging or creating websites needs to write often and learn SEO. My days are spent researching, writing, linking and thinking. The next day, rinse and repeat. Yes, it is work, but work I love to do. Plus I get paid very well. Life is good for writers who now SEO. If you dont know SEO, good luck geting paid to wriet on the web thee days!!

  143. Simple, quick but effective tips.

  144. Did you also say I have to write sometimes ?

  145. Could you be a bit clearer? I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

  146. While there is wisdom in “practice makes perfect”; you still need an aptitude for writing. Dwight Howard can shoot a million more free throws and he’ll probably get better right? But he’ll never be a great free throw shooter. Case in point: Shaq

  147. I too was a bit disapointed when I first read the post and startd to click away. Then I decided to read the post and found that you inspired so many people to write a comment. How Brilliant is that? Thank you for the inspiration and I think all the comments are great! Right on (write on) umm…

  148. How do you become a better writer? Answer: write, write, write. This is great. It brings to mind Stephen King’s book about writing. His answer to the question is…”Read more and Write more.” I think that says it all. How can you write anything if you don’t read anything.

  149. This reminds me of when I was a Tae Kwon Do student – someone asked the instructor what the best kind of supplementary training was to help people get better at Tae Kwon Do and the instructor said ‘more Tae Kwon Do’.

  150. Ha Ha, now what’s that?

  151. I prefer to type. :P

  152. This is great. Simple but effective. I think I’d better get to writing some more…

  153. I was going to throw out the reading one, but somebody beat me too it…aww. Great post though, haha.

    Also, read BOOKS and magazines and such. Printed things that are checked for grammar and spelling…

  154. How do you spell that again? :) just teasing. Was in middle of writing then distracted with brainstorming and ..and..

  155. Agreed. Sometimes I think to much about something, when it comes down to it, just do it!

  156. Well said. When I get my blog out of beta, my goal is to write one unique article everyday, complemented with 4-5 “news” articles.

  157. This is great. Simple but effective. I think I’d better get to writing some more…

  158. Definitely agree :)

  159. Hey Brian,

    The only surefire way to get better at something: do it a lot.

    The more you do it, the stronger your base skill becomes. The stronger the foundation, the better your next level will be. Rinse and repeat to achieve each level of progress.

    There are no tricks. Only conscious growth and repetition.

    Great (and simple) reminder to just do it and not stop,
    Oleg

  160. Haha.. very funny.. Simple as it is.. :)

  161. This is very true. You need to just write even when you feel like it. I think it’s good to try and recognise what times of the day you are more motivated to write. For me, it’s earlier in the morning when everyone is sleeping and late at night. In the day, I seem to lag a bit and that’s when I sometimes take on other tasks such as uploading to a website that doesn’t require much creative power!

  162. ok I will write more and more and more :)

  163. No matter what they say…you know it’s the best advice. It’s really inspiring.

    Thanks!

  164. Nice… :)

    At times we don’t feel like writing anything. However, once we sit and have MS Word open in front of us, ideas come automatically.

  165. Very well said… At times, right thoughts or ideas come to you when you are not ready to write them down. So, instead of thinking that it’s better to wait until an idea hits you, it’s better to sit down and stare at the monitor… As you said Brain, Write, Write More and Write Even More… Great Post!

  166. This is something really hard to do.
    How come i can write anything when i really don’t have anything in my mind… this sounds quite confusing to me!

  167. Hilarious. Writing is so simple based off this post!

  168. ROFL it is what is. If you want to make money you are going to have to dedicated to writing even when write is not dedicated to you!

  169. Wow. This is one of the best kept secrets of copywriting. Don’t bore your reader!

  170. This is great. Simple but effective. I think I’d better get to writing some more…

  171. Some great tips on this site for writing, need to get our sex toy guides done, so some good inspiration and help here.

  172. shortest sweetest writing tip…just keep writing…

  173. These words speak about one true: “If something is impossible, means it is necessary to work more”

  174. The best tip here for me is, “write when you don’t want to.” I am one of the world’s best prevaricators. So, thanks for the swift kick up the pants.

  175. I was rather amused upon reading some of the commenters who were surprised by this advice and felt the need to clarify that not everything they write is any good. Honestly, everyone knows that not every word written is publishable. That’s a given.

    As for those who don’t think writer’s block is real, well I suppose that’s your opinion. Personally, I think whenever writing becomes particularly difficult, regardless of whether it’s because of outside pressures or otherwise, is writer’s block. I don’t know about other writers, but I don’t use it as an excuse. I use the fact that I managed to push through it as an achievement.

    I liked this post. It was one of those clever little ones that stick in your mind. I tweeted it.

  176. Yes, writing is deceptively simple in practice, but love your advice. I think I’d better get to back to writing, writing some and then keep writing..

  177. Like it! My suggestion would be to trim it to five stages:

    1) Read
    2) Think
    3) Write
    4) Edit like a monster
    5) Repeat

  178. @Johnny, I like it.

  179. It’s like becoming a better reader. Read, read, read, read and so on..

  180. thanks for your inspiration. I will make a action and more action

  181. I hear you loud and clear. I’m new at blogging and often get stuck about what to write about. But you can’t get better at something unless you keep at it. Thanks for the great advise.

  182. thanked for subject and tips beautiful
    because my friend Sarah happy

  183. Man, that’s brilliant! 552 tweets, 169 trackbacks and 183 comments on a post as blazingly simple as that. Love it!

  184. I clicked on this expecting some deep wisdom and some amazing advice from one of the best bloggers out there.

    I found it.

  185. I know I am at the bottom of this list, that this is an old post, and that it has probably been said a thousand times already… But this is just a great post!

    It is so, so simple, yet the profoundness is clearly evident. What’s more, hardly anyone else on the web could have pulled this off. The reason it works so well on Copyblogger, in my opinion, is because it is surrounded by such good quality content.

    That really is the key to good copy, simple, concise, and yet still quality.

    Thanks for the inspiration,
    -Adam Pounds

    • Adam, don’t worry about being at the bottom of the comment list because A) that’s only until someone else posts behind you and B) I read you … and so have plenty of others. To my way of thinking, this makes it worthwhile to post quality comments here and quality posts on your own blog.

      Today I am taking a few minutes out as I work some more on a year old draft. When I get the draft finished, I’ll probably throw half of it away and re-write the rest. Eventually, I might post it.

      But, hey, it’s Saturday. I’ve worked hard all week so I decided to spend today whittling away at the draft post list. This one looked interesting. A couple others will probably get pitched into the Hemingway file. It’s all good on a drizzly Jan. 1, 2011.

  186. this the most unique posting, but you are right!
    if we want to be better writer, we have to write again and again.

  187. Thanks. That really does say something about affiliate marketing as a whole. Finding targeted traffic requires keyword optimized writing skills. I do find that the more I write the easier it becomes and the more in depth the information seems to become. Your post is an excellent reminder to keep writing.

  188. practice, practice, practice. I think it should be:
    1. Write
    2. Learn
    3. Write
    4. Learn
    5. Write, etc.
    You get better as you write more but it doesn’t help to write badly thinking you’re doing it right.

    BTW, thanks. This is brilliant.

  189. Good one!

    Write latest updates
    Write what you face
    Write what you feel

  190. Trying to write articles is worse for me than going to the dentist. I don’t know how you do it. You would have to get very good at writing, before it would become a pleasure.

    I have been following you now for a while looking to learn.

    • Daniel, what have you written lately? Reading is the spectator sport version of writing. Only writing is writing. Think of reading as a rented xxx video and writing as a date with a smoldering lover. Some things are just better first hand.

  191. Mary Danielsen :

    I have the same list in my old Daytimer, which I still keep around for drawing, ideas, shopping lists, ideas, misc. public relations stuff and ideas.

  192. I just love this post :) – So true.. Keep writing!

  193. I have been an avid reader all my life, yet when I built my first website, I found it very difficult to write articles. I took me a good while to get good and fast at it. You are quite right. Write, write and write more! It is the only way.

  194. I just want to say that this lone blog post has accounted for the most growth I’ve experienced as a writer and blogger of anything I’ve read on the Internet.

    And this comment is one of hundreds echoing similar thoughts, but I had to share it anyway, me to you, Brian. As personally as I can over the digital waves, I thank you. Your knowledge shared across the net, in this post specifically, has influenced my work and life for the better.

    • Thank you, James. It always means a lot to receive comments like yours, and I continue to be humbled that I’m able to help people by writing… What a cool gig! :)

  195. Here’s how I’ve been getting better at writing:
    1. Read Copyblogger articles that you think will help.
    2. Read Copyblogger articles that you think won’t help.
    3. Bookmark Copyblogger posts you love and read them again later.
    4. Read comments on the posts you love to see people’s reactions.
    5. Read comments on posts that you didn’t love to see if people help.
    6. Read Copyblogger posts you love to people you love.
    7. Read you favorite points in copywriter blogs out loud.
    8. Read Copyblogger posts word for word.
    9. Subscribe to Copyblogger.
    10. Write.

  196. I love writing. I love writing. I love writing. Yahoo!! I hate writing.

  197. One writer I saw on TV had this sign posted above his typewriter:
    “One must write in order to have written.”

  198. Research your ideas and use your target audience to produce the best effects. Practice makes perfect, so the more you write the better you will become, but to get the results you really do need to actually know and understand what you write!

  199. Wow, what a straightforward, very simple, short but very remarkable post. I totally agree to all of these 10 points, but for me the most important is the no.1 and the no. 10 post.

    Thanks,
    Christian Guico.

  200. Yes! That is so true! Though it also helps when you have people who will tell you that your writing is not effective, and who will correct you on your mistakes. Otherwise, you continue on as an oblivious “not so great” writer. lol

  201. I will certainly keep on writing. Thank you.

  202. Short but sweet. Just write is the answer to all our writing problem.

  203. i am following your post from two days.i am writing 3 posts daily.i have seen lots of difference from previous days.this really good

  204. In other words ‘practice makes perfect’! You are absolutely right, you do get better the more you write.

  205. Ha ha i think this is truly brilliant. Possibly the one thing i didnt want to find when i have writers block but its cheered me up

  206. Reading then writing about what you read is good. This is what I just learned: Read, read, and read some more then write, write and write some more then repeat the process over and over and over again like daily.

    • Frankie,

      I agree. Reading and improving your overall literacy is very important too in the process of becoming a better writer.

  207. To add to your list I would suggest finding writers who are considered the best in their field and study how they write, there is always a lot can be learnt from others.

    then write constantly!

  208. So basically, just by commenting here im getting better. Yey me!

    Makes me feel less guilty for not reading in English as much as I should. You see I have this problem. I just can’t seem to stop myself from reading the same book series over and over again. And the series consists of 47 books. And it’s not in English.

    But this one I can do. And to be able to comment on this post I had to read it first, so it’s like two for one. Double yey!

    And yeah, I agree Adu. As I do with many of the comments in here.

  209. haha…. I was expecting something else when I clicked on the post title from the other page. I loved it.

  210. This is really an inspiring, poetic, kick-in-the-butt. Thanks for this!

  211. I agree with you all the way except when I’m not writing, I’m reading, and don’t forget Dr. Oz’s says if you handwrite stuff it makes you live longer.
    Diane

  212. Excellent! Just great! Beautifully put! What more is there to say? And how much and I keep writing here?

  213. Expanded on your article a bit in my blog. . Hit on some of the ideas in the comments above: Offered some cautionary advice. Practice has to be perfect or aimed toward perfection; deliberate practice works best; knowing your strengths and weaknesses matter a great deal. See you live in Denver. We moved here a year ago and love it. Keep sharing your great ideas. You may help me find success as a blogger.

  214. Writing for me can be a problem at times but once I get started I am good to go. The problem is putting the first words on the page after that it just flows.

  215. Make me smile, but it’s excellent advice.

  216. Write. (Something i’m trying to be good at)
    Write more. ( thats what i commit to do)
    Write even more. (Its my goal to write even more quality content)
    Write even more than that. (Thats my real hope)
    Write when you don’t want to. ( gosh, i need some practice here)
    Write when you do. (Thats easy for me)
    Write when you have something to say. ( need to keep practicing this one)
    Write when you don’t.( kinda hard , hope i will be in that position to do it )
    Write every day. ( its something i admire from all the blogger)
    Keep writing. ( This is motivating,)

    Thanks for the simple yet powerful post

  217. jimmymelendres :

    hahaha! very funny at first glance. But man, this is really true. you have to write consistently in order to master the craft. great job!

  218. For me, “writers block” generally means that I have decided that I don’t want to write today. That always costs me; sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. I just have to be honest about the cost so I can be upfront with myself about the decision. Sometimes I am willing to pay the price; other times I start writing.

    There: block resolved.

    Actually, there are two sorts of block for me … not having anything I want to write about at the moment (as mentioned above) and not being able to choose which topic to write about first.

    When I have so many ideas that I have to choose between them (2 or more, eh?) I try to write a smidgen about each of them so that I can come back later and pick up the inspiration.

    Once I start writing, ideas drop off like flies. I rarely get more than two or three sketched before I come up empty. But if I had waited until later to make notes, I would have lost ALL the ideas.

    Now, if I only had 20 fingers and 96 hours in the day.

  219. It’s true. Nothing adds to learning better than doing. I used to be petrified to have to write, and though I certainly don’t present myself as the worlds best content writer I do know that my content has improved. Moreover, I don’t have the fear I used to when is comes to writing and that has opened up a number of doors and proven to me that we and we alone place limitations on ourselves.

  220. It is 11pm and I turned to this article thinking I would be up for another two hours reading and following thousands of links. This was GREAT, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT……..Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  221. Always produce (c) Paul Graham.

    The answer is in the doing. It doesn’t harm to take a step back once in a while and ask yourself how you could do it better. But most people don’t act, they rather reflect all the time. Those who act are always better off than those who don’t.

  222. The picture you conjured in this succinct post,
    is akin to one that routinely soothes me through the
    menial writing tasks I sometimes still have to do.

    It reminds me of traditional Kendo sword practice:
    How they would repeat tiny minute moves ceaselessly,
    because only so can you attain effortless application.

    Precise motions, repeated 1,000 fold and over again
    this type of training is most boring and mind-crushing
    ….but they did learn how to crush rock with wooden swords.

  223. I agree, you just have to do it. I also felt validated when I read “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser and he said “Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard”

    I always thought writers just sat down and wrote perfectly every-time – now I know they find it as hard as I do.

  224. Oh! It’s the best advice ever! Exactly what I need now!

  225. I am forever looking for valuable content to be a better writer. Its a whole new learning curve for me.

    I prefer to write early in the mornings after a good nights sleep. Between the hours of 1:am and 8:am, Why?
    Beacuse its nice and quiet, no kids running around my feet, no noise. Definately a good time to write. A spiritual feeling of sensibility happens.

  226. This is still my favorite CB post.

  227. 11. Read a book on writing.
    12. Then keep writing some more.

    Love it. Great “short” Brian.

  228. Thanks Brian for your terse, pithy guidelines. They sound like the words of the Bible.

  229. Short sweet and to the point post :)

  230. This is great advice. But what should people write about when they don’t have anything to say? A post on rhetorical heuristics (such as comparing and contrasting, or questioning assumptions) to generate interesting ideas might be helpful. Many times this analysis comes naturally from writing itself, but having 10 or so questions to get you started is a useful tool for writing.

  231. Oh there are so many things to write about alright! ;)

  232. This list should go on everybody’s refrigerator.

  233. Short and sweet, but quality over quantity.

    The only thought is that it’s a presumption that when you continue to do something, you’ll automatically start to do it better. Is this not why we have coaches or trainers?

    I asked one of the top journalists in Ireland, where I’m from, how should I improve my writing. Interestingly, he said write more, just like your article, but he also said ‘read more’, ‘read more books, more articles, in all sorts of disciplines”.

    So I’d suggest an amendment to the article above. Write then write more, and all the while, read more.

  234. Nice post =)
    This is something I really need to work on.

  235. Oh there are so many things to write about alright!

  236. Full of useful guidelines for a writer.

  237. I chuckled when I read these 10 steps. Looking for the secret that would make writing easier, I was reminded instead that there is no secret. As Steven Pressfield says in his book The War of Art, “It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.” Thanks for that reminder. Now, back to the writing.

  238. WORD!

  239. Is not just about writing and random writing. It´s about thinking, reading a lot, taking some notes, and learning copywriting too. Practice.

  240. Write on!

  241. let me write something for you also. -rakesh :)

  242. Very few lines gives a Very Big work! :O

  243. Thanks Brian.

  244. Well said..

  245. I am writing not because I have something to say, not that I don’t have something to say, I”m not sure if I even want to say something but, I need to write every day and I’ll keep on writing… Thanks for the reminder :)

  246. HI Brian,

    To the point, true, and down-to-earth. Great!

    Thanks for illuminating!

  247. My slight problem with ‘just writing’ to become a better writer: surely, there has to be a purpose for the writing in the beginning. After all, there’s an ‘end-user’: the READER.
    So what’s the purpose of writing if not to:
    Gain attention to an idea
    Provide useful information
    Present a benefit
    Provide the words that sell the benefit
    Give details of how to get the benefit
    Sell the product or service that provides the benefit
    Provide ‘food for thought’
    Educate, demonstrate and enlighten
    Make your reader laugh, cry, feel good and act
    Capture your reader for life, with promises of even better things to come.
    Fulfil your promise, and NEVER disappoint, or let your reader’s down.
    That, I think, is the PURPOSE of writing. The harder we work at providing benefits to our readers, the better writers we will become.

  248. Hahaha… Oh my god. Cant believe how many comments this simple post have.

  249. You don’t want to write just for writing’s sake; you want to, before writing, do whatever inspires you to say something anyone wants to hear. sit and struggle for 5 hours, because you have to, and you’ve just wasted 5 hours.

  250. Yes! There’s ALWAYS something to write about–even wihen you’re experiencing a block. I’ve written about markings on my wall; crumbs on the floor; dust on the mantle; stacks of dirty laundry; my unmade bed–I can always write. I’d say my problem lies in another area…LOL (jk)

    I enjoyed this post!

  251. Just write to become a better writer.

  252. The problem is that not many people have got something to say. And that’s when they turn to things like The Best Spinner and other “aids”. Writing should be left for those who actually have something useful to impart. You know what they say: you can’t polish a turd.

  253. It is like with anything you do. You need a lot of practice to do it good.

    btw, I have question somehow related to writing. How to fight thieves of you content? It is very sad to see your work stoled and used by somebody as their own.

  254. Excellent advice. It is hard writing when one has nothing to say or when one has no motivation, but i have several things on the go at once and when i can’t do one i invariably find i can do another. Short stories, non-fiction, letters, plans and work. Write, write and write again.
    Cheers!

  255. Looks too simple. But yes its straight to the point.

  256. Nice Post. Hard work and thirst for the great knowledge can take you to the perfection. Its right, not everyone is capable of writing, so if you write and write sometimes, then polish for writing art. Be amazing! Its tough competition to come in next 5 years. Be ready!

  257. Great, simple advice.

    Couldn’t be any more straight forward to understand.

    Thanks

  258. The more we write the better we can write. All we need to have is patience and interest on what we are doing. I started this whole blogging thing a couple of years back and now I’m much more improved as a writer. Agree with your 10 points Brian :)

  259. All I could do when I saw this was laugh! You are right… just write. The other things will develop as you get better and critique your own work… LOL!!! Thanks for the laugh! Great point though!

  260. This is great advice. But what should people write about when they don’t have anything to say? A post on rhetorical heuristics (such as comparing and contrasting, or questioning assumptions) to generate interesting ideas might be helpful. Many times this analysis comes naturally from writing itself, but having 10 or so questions to get you started is a useful tool for writing

  261. Being good at writing has never been so important a skill to have as it does today, if you are in the job of managing website pages for your company’s brochure or ecommerce website. The Google Panda Algorithm that was put in place now ensures website pages are serving up quality unique content that people actually want to link too because they find the article interesting. So, all the more important to have this top 10 list facing you every day. One guy above says what should one write about if they don’t have anything to say? But, if you are in the business of having to market your website every day, your sales techniques will come from creating engaging content to sell your products and services. If you are still at School and reading this blog and you want to be a great internet marketer, make sure you attend all your English classes. Remember those sessions where teacher puts words up on the board and gives you a paragraph you must improve by including the words provided. Now where does that lead to in future years…. here is a client who is trying to sell his products and services, has a written some web page content, but it is boring, and no keywords….now remember that School day I was referring too……

  262. Practice…practice and more practice counts for so much, but it seems that in novel writing, often the well runs dry and I must pause for a day, a week or more to let it fill up again. Forcing it may not always be the answer. And yet at other times, you have to plow on through. Everybody needs to find not only their own voice, but their own pace and that depends on the story struggling to be born.

  263. After a few years in software development I got into website development and design. I’ve always loved computers but, at school, subjects like english didn’t interested me as much. Little did I know I would end up needing to write blog posts, articles, tutorials even things as simple as writing a compelling webpage title to increase the click through rate.

    For years I thought I couldn’t write but I’m getting better and better at it every day. In the early days I found it much easier to outsource some of the content writing. Often the quality I got back was not great but it was a starting point to turn it into an interesting article. It’s been mentioned here already but I feel it’s important to read.

    Mary hit the nail on the head with practice and finding you own voice. Just do it. Put it out there. Get started. Love it, hate it – do it for you.

  264. If you write more, write more, to write … I’m sure everything will turn out. Thank you for lifting my spirits.
    P.S. I’m sorry for the mistakes in the message I’m from Ukraine

  265. Excellent stuff! Pretty simple post but very true!

  266. Couldn’t have said it better!

  267. Excellent!
    Have it printed out and it’s a great source of inspiration to get me going. Also helps to get rid of the excuses in my head every time I sit down to do some writing.
    Thanks