Content Writing Tips From John Steinbeck

He may have been a novelist, but from a quick look through his archive of quotes, John Steinbeck would have made a fine content writer. If your content writing could use a little literary guidance, then check out what Steinbeck had to say about the craft of writing.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

Very true. I’ve been writing blog posts every week for some of my clients since I first started with Content Equals Money in April. At points, I’ve worried about running out of ideas, but… it hasn’t really happened. And, now I’m starting to think it never will. Sure, I get stuck from time to time – every content writer does – but it doesn’t last long.

Once you build your main thematic ideas with a client, all of the little rabbits (and rabbit trails) will faithfully present themselves! If you do feel hopelessly stuck, I’ve got seven ways you can change that.

“Grab anything that goes by. It may not come around again.”

While you might have a proliferation of rabbits, you have to make sure to catch them all. They might get away from you, never to return. It’s handy to keep a notepad (or, let’s be real… your Evernote app) with you at all times. Sure, you might be “off the clock.” But, when a good idea strikes, jot it down. You’ll thank yourself when you’re back at the desk tomorrow morning!

“A man without words is a man without thought.”

Steinbeck penned this gem in East of Eden. But, the sentence can easily be applied to the way most consumers view small businesses today. If a small business isn’t blogging and/or interacting through social media, then many consumers are going to assume that there’s not a whole lot happening with that particular business.

Content writers are so valuable today because they lend a voice to businesses that can’t speak for themselves. A business may be outside the blog scene because it’s understaffed or lacking in knowledge/skill of web-based writing. Whatever excuse holds them back doesn’t really matter to the consumer. What’s significant is the fact that the business isn’t blogging and engaging – when everyone else is.

Good content writers will give those businesses words to show that they do, indeed, have thoughts!

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”

Freelance content writers may be discouraged about their profession. Finding clients isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But, hey, at least you’re not writing novels, right? Content writing is a much more stable business than novel writing. Let that be your encouragement.

If you’re trying to get more high-paying clients, you have to know how to look. Don’t seek out the higher paying clients on Guru and other sites where everyone is low-balling. Rather, seek out clients directly:

Remember, you aren’t trying to make a living from a novel. You’re writing content for businesses! It is stable, and you can make it viable.

Closing Words from Steinbeck

Steinbeck also said, “You know how advice is – you only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyways.” So, I realize I can’t force any change in your approach to content writing, but I hope you find something useful in his words!

Do you have any favorite Steinbeck quotes of your own to share with other content writers?

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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Comments

  1. As a word and literature nerd, I saw the title of your post and clicked with fervor! I’m glad I did, especially the reminder to collect inspiration, articles, and examples to utilize later – Evernote is quite possibly the best tool since sliced bread. I often get caught in the content slump, but thanks to you I’ll be going back to my friends in classic literature for advice.
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  1. […] the last few months I’ve covered content writing tips form Vonnegut, Wilde, Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and King, but I’m not done […]