Content Writing Tips from Stephen King

Steven King

In a lot of ways, Stephen King is the ultimate ghostwriter. In 1977, frustrated with the suffocating stereotype that an author couldn’t publish more than one book per year, Stephen King came up with the penname Richard Bachman. King published four books under the penname before he was outed in 1985.

Since content writing is essentially a form of ghostwriting, what author is better to turn to for tips and tricks than King, the master of the art? Here are my top four favorite quotes from Stephen King on writing. Content writers, take heed!

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.”

Neither do good bloggers. I’m a big believer in the idea that you CAN give all your secrets away. However, there’s no need to do it in one or two blog posts. Good writers know how to keep a reader reading.

In the blogging world, that means each post – each section – should have valuable information. But, each section should also make a reader want more. After all, the ultimate end purpose of content marketing is to turn leads into customers.

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

Well said, Mr. King. As content writers, we aren’t typing literary masterpieces. Yes, the language should be strong and descriptive (more on that in the next section). But, more than anything it should be clear and easy to read.

If you are a “writer,” and you have to use a thesaurus, then how likely is it that your reader is going to get tripped up on that one word and pull out a dictionary?

It’s unlikely because, in all honesty, they’ll probably stop reading.

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

Take this one with a grain of salt. Remember, content writing should be clear, powerful, and descriptive. You don’t want your reader to be lost in some vague, half-sensible description.

But, you can still have clear, powerful, and descriptive writing without laying it all out. Assume your reader’s intelligence, and let them connect a few dots for themselves.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

Or, as Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Don’t worry, none of your content writers are writing drunk. Rather, I read both of these quotes to say: Release all of your inhibitions, and write with no holds barred. Then, let all eyes look in as you bring out the red pen.

The best kind of writing is usually done when you let go of your own criticisms. Writing in total “mental privacy” – where you have no inhibitions – is a great way to get the pure ideas out. Of course, a lot of garbage is typed this way, too. That’s where the open-door-sober-edit comes into play!

Have you picked up any writing lessons from Stephen King?

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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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