Here’s How David Meerman Scott Writes

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As publishers of online content, you and I inevitably run into the challenge of making the leap from the blank page, into the hearts and minds of our audience.

Content marketing — at its core — is finding the successful integration of great content and time-tested marketing strategies. International bestselling author and marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott, has made it his mission to help you find that sweet spot.

Mr. Scott is the author of eight books published in over 30 languages, the former marketing VP of two publicly traded companies, as well as Asia marketing director of Knight-Ridder.

With his extensive experience at that junction of the new media frontier and the old guard of publishing and PR, he’s found highly effective avenues to helping content creators and businesses connect with their audiences in extraordinary ways.

Let’s explore the file of David Meerman Scott, writer …

Everything old is new again, online

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark was featured in Mr. Scott’s instant industry classic The New Rules of Marketing & PR (currently in its third edition), a textbook for the digital frontier on leveraging modern marketing to build your business.

Last year David brought us Newsjacking, an ingenious way for online marketers to leverage PR using nothing more than your blog and a Twitter account.

And today he shares his observations on the writing life, strategies for creating epic content, connecting with your audience, using your blog as an idea generator, and the nature of perfection.

About the writer …

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m David Meerman Scott.

Meerman is my middle name which I’ve used professionally since the first time I Googled myself in the 1990s and found that David Scott (Commander of Apollo 15), David Scott (Congressman from Georgia), and David Scott (Ironman Triathlon champion) were too difficult to compete with for SEO.

I’ve written eight books, delivered talks at events in 36 countries on six continents, and serve on the advisory boards of a bunch of very cool companies.

What is your area of expertise as a writer or online publisher?

My first job was on a bond trading desk in the 1980s where I learned how to use real-time online content from media companies like Dow Jones and Reuters.

In the 1990s I was Asia Marketing Director for Knight-Ridder’s online media business and later VP of marketing at NewsEdge where I learned how to create content.

By the 2000s I realized that I had 20 years experience at the intersection of online media and marketing when most people had zero, so I left the corporate world to write and speak about that intersection.

Where can we find your writing?

With thanks to my publisher John Wiley & Sons, my book World Wide Rave is now completely free as a PDF (with no registration required) and on Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Kobo ebook readers:

The writer’s productivity …

How much time, per day, do you spend reading or doing research?

All day, every day. My best ideas come at odd times, like waiting in line to board a plane.

Before you begin to write, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?

When I’m not traveling, I wake up at 3:00am, check email and social feeds for a few minutes, then exercise for 90 minutes. After breakfast and a shower I go to my little hideout office in town and do long-form writing for about 3 hours. I eat lunch around 10:30, and after lunch is meetings, phone calls, interviews, and short form content like blog posts. I’m in bed by 8:30.

What’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination?

Don’t think of a book as 60,000 words. Instead think of a book as 120 blog posts of 500 words each.

What time of day is most productive for your writing or content production?


Do you generally adhere to a rigid or flexible writing system?

I use what I call a “writing ladder” but I’ve never thought of it as a system till now. Maybe it is!

If a tweet resonates (it gets a bunch of RTs and @ replies) then I consider it good blog post fodder. If a blog post resonates, I’ll explore it with a riff in a speech and maybe another blog post or two. If a series of posts on the same topic resonates, that’s my next book.

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead (which I wrote with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan), Real-Time Marketing & PR, and Newsjacking were all developed this way.

How many hours a day do you spend actually writing (excluding email, social media etc.)?

Including my blog as writing, probably 3 hours a day average.

Do you write every day?

Yes. But the length of time varies significantly.

The writer’s creativity …

Define creativity.

Seeing patterns that others don’t and effectively communicating them.

Who are your favorite authors, online or off?

In no particular order and with apologies to many people I’ll forget: Ann Handley, C.C. Chapman, Seth Godin, Bob Lefsetz, Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, Brian Clark, Laura Hillenbrand, Tom Wolfe, Michael Collins, Nathaniel Philbrick.

Can you share a best-loved quote?

Here I am at the turn of the millennium and I’m still the last man to have walked on the moon. It says more about what we have not done than about what we have done.
~ Gene Cernan, Commander of Apollo 17

Do you prefer a particular type of music (or silence) when you write?


How would you personally like to grow creatively as a writer?

My first book, Eyeball Wars, was a thriller. I’d like to take another shot at fiction.

Do you believe in “writer’s block”? If so, how do you avoid it?

No writing is perfect. Just write.

Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment (i.e. specific creative inspirations)?

Musicians like Phil Lesh, Charlie Musselwhite, B.B. King, and Keith Richards, who are still working the stage and making people happy half a century on.

Would you consider yourself someone who likes to “take risks?”


What makes a writer great?

The ability to connect with an audience.

The writer’s workflow …

What hardware or typewriter model are you presently using?

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro 2.6GHz with Retina display (which I love), Apple 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, Apple mouse, and, to complete the package, an ergonomic keyboard made by Microsoft(!).

What software are you using for writing and general workflow?

Microsoft Word, TypePad for my blog, and WordPress for my site.

Do you have any tricks for staying focused?

Fear that someone else will write about the pattern I’m seeing before I write about it.

Have you run into any serious challenges or obstacles to getting words onto the page?

No. Only minor ones.

How do you stay organized (methods, systems, or “mad science”)?

After nearly 1,000 posts over almost a decade, I use my blog as a catalog of my ideas. It may seem strange, but I search my own blog several times a day.

How do you relax at the end of a hard day?

Put away the MacBook Pro and iPhone and read something printed on paper.

A few questions just for the fun of it …

Who (or what) has been your greatest teacher?

My liberal arts education.

What’s your biggest aggravation or pet peeve at the moment (writing related or otherwise)?

People who say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” but don’t.

Choose one author, living or dead, that you would like to have dinner with.

Brian Clark, so we can talk both writing and music. It will happen. I hope it is soon.

Do you have a motto, credo or general slogan that you live by?

You are responsible for your own success.

What do you see as your greatest success in life?

When my ideas spark people to be more successful.

If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go (cost or responsibilities are no object)?

Does the Moon count?

What would you like to do more of in the coming year?

Surfing and scuba diving.

Can you offer any advice to writers and content producers that you might offer yourself, if you could go back in time and “do it all over?”

You can’t convince a publisher to accept your work. But if you show publishers that you already have readers of your work, they’ll come knocking at your door.

Please tell our readers where they can connect with you online.

Google David Meerman Scott and connect with me any way you like — except the telephone.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

If you’ve read this far, I want to thank you very much for your interest.

I really appreciate it. You are why I write.

And finally, the writer’s desk …

Building an audience that builds your brand or business requires some fearlessness.

But fearless exploration of the unknown, whether it be outer space, or the blank page, is the most rewarding part about this whole mysterious process.

Be prepared.

Innovative ideas arrive when you least expect them.

You might be jacked into the Matrix, or wandering aimlessly in the world, completely free of technology.

And writing 1000 words that gets your audience thinking, talking, and sharing, that is the part that requires some old-school “ass-in-chair” time.

Thank you, Mr. Scott.

Image of David Meerman Scott's Desk

Thank you for tuning in to The Writer Files …

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Reader Comments (42)

  1. says

    I really liked the desk. Great Interview Kelton.
    Don’t think of a book as 60,000 words. Instead think of a book as 120 blog posts of 500 words each.
    This is the best part of the interview.
    Thanks again Kelton and waiting for more interviews. I hope you interview THE AMAZING Jon Morrow and also James Chartrand.

    Thanks again for this great post.

    • says

      Great to hear that you’re enjoying the series,thank you for tuning in! Mr. Scott is a true innovator. More great Q&As to come, and I’m always interested to know what writers you’d like to see up here. Cheers.

  2. says

    I have to confess that I’d never heard of David Meerman Scott before but I really enjoyed reading the interview; plenty of straightforward and practical advice in there. My two favourite answers were:

    What makes a writer great?
    The ability to connect with an audience.

    What do you see as your greatest success in life?
    When my ideas spark people to be more successful.

  3. says

    Great interview. It’s always interesting to see how other writers work. I think we have some things in common. I get up n the morning and check emails and do social networking. I write daily, and use the 500 words per day method. That makes for a book per year. One thing I need to work on is to out away the Mac Air and iPad Mini more often.

  4. says

    Great interview – I love these “behind the curtains” stories :)

    The one thing I’m going to take from this post is the idea of sourcing blog posts from popular tweets. I’ve always heard how writers should pull topics that their readers have demonstrated an interest in, but that advice is rarely ever tied to an actionable strategy on how to do so. Much appreciated, and thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Sarah – that strategy led directly to Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, the book I wrote with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan. We both found that our Grateful Dead related tweets were generating big interest, same with blog posts. So we decided to do a Webinar together and it was one of the most popular at HubSpot at the time. So we turned to one another and said “BOOK!”

  5. says

    After reading “New Rules…” in each of the 3 editions, and his blog, I came to know David’s writing very well. I would recommend every one of his books, as David teaches really well through his writing.

    Breaking the writing of a book down into manageable pieces, love it.

    And, it’s always cool to see the office of a fellow writer, the dog on the printer is a nice touch. :)

  6. says

    Very interesting interview, and this is coming from someone who normally skips interviews unless they are of people I am a fan of (they rarely are). I Googled my name back in 2001 and discovered I’m the only person in the world called Dean Saliba – score! :)

  7. says

    Hey Dave,

    You strike me as a man of passion and persistence; two traits that will garner success in any arena. I admire writers with a proclivity to ‘think outside the bagel’. Unfortunately I succumb to the occasional onslaught of writer’s block but combat that by reading material from people such as yourself with a firm grasp of the essentials and a slight twist of lemon. Not to mention I’m a supersized Grateful Dead fan.

    I’m exceedingly grateful for being introduced to your POV and look forward to furthering my affiliation with your work.

    Till the ink runs out,

  8. says

    I share his fear that someone else will see what I’ve seen and write what I want to write before I get a chance to write it. Good post! Love this series.

  9. says

    Fantastic interview with David. Mr. Meerman Scott was the person who first got me into online marketing around 2007 with the book New Rules of Marketing & PR. A great insight into the mindset of a true marketing thought leader. Thanks!

  10. Caleb says

    Awesome, awesome, awesome!

    Thanks for sharing this and the writing ladder idea is inspiring and such a helpful progressive approach to coming up with something.

  11. says

    Oh wow what a great interview! A glimpse into how one of my role models works :)
    Been a fan since edition 1 of new rules.
    Like your day routine. Have shifted towards those times but need to do more. This inspired me to do so. Thanks!

  12. says

    I love this series. It’s very helpful to hear about other writer’s rituals and habits. Thank you for another good installment.

  13. says

    I agree with your statement
    “each is responsible for his actions”
    I would say it is also responsible for the results.
    good interview, congratulations

  14. Smiley Kylie says

    I am a newbie to copyblogger, love the emails everyday! Especially the writer interviews. I met David Meerman Scott in Sydney, Australia! Great interview. Good stuff.

  15. Archan Mehta says

    David’s interview was awesome. This is one of the best things about Copyblogger. You guys go the extra mile. It is fun to read about other writers and their rituals and routines.

    David inspires me. It takes great discipline to keep regular hours. Early to be, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise is the old Ben Franklin formula and David personifies it. No wonder success has arrived at his door.

    Please keep up the good work and let us know about any links. If they are worth sharing, we can gain a lot from them, especially about new writers and intellectuals and artists. It is a pleasure to read your blog, as usual.

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