The 9 Best Literary Content Writing Tips Ever Written

Literary writing tipsBeing a content writer isn’t quite the same as being a novelist, but it’s still tough work. There’s the constant requirement of creativity – plus, you need an extra helping of self-discipline to sit at the keyboard for eight hours day-in and day-out.

To make the job a little easier for my fellow writers and marketers, I’ve been sharing content writing tips from some big authors. Over the last few months I’ve covered content writing tips form Vonnegut, Wilde, Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and King, but I’m not done yet.

Today we’ll finish things off with the grand finale post. Pour another cup of coffee and stretch your back. Here we go…

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

– Elmore Leonard

I don’t know that I’d agree with this quote for all kinds of writing, but I certainly agree when it comes to content writing. When you’re writing for a commercial audience, your content should be clear and easy to read. Which leads us to the next tip…

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Writing clearly and concisely is a lot easier said than done! If you find a blog post to be fluid and easy to read, then someone put in a lot of hard work to make that possible. Study it and uncover the key for yourself.

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”

– Lawrence Block 

When you take on a client that needs a lot of written material, it can sometimes be a little intimidating, making it hard to start. In these situations, I’ve found that it’s always best to just get going.

Don’t agonize over strategy, research, and all of the other side-activities that accompany the act of writing. Once you start typing, everything else will fall into place. And if what you produce truly is awful, you can always hit the delete key.

“You can make anything by writing.”

– C.S. Lewis

Like money, right? Check out this post I wrote in October about how content writers can generate conversions (i.e. money) in just 20 minutes.

“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”

– Annie Dillard

In my experience, saving up ideas is rarely a good thing. Jot a good concept down if you absolutely can’t use it in the next hour. However, when you’ve got something good, try using it immediately. Many of our ideas are sharpest the moment they first pop into our heads – not one week later.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

– Benjamin Franklin

This quote from Franklin is a good reminder that not all content is written content. Just hop on over to AdAge or Mashable at any hour of the day and you’ll see a number of brilliant content marketing moves that involve virtually no writing.

Of course, these stunts can inspire some pretty fantastic words from other writers. Take this as an example: “Red Bull to Murder Innocent Man in Heartless Marketing Stunt”. How can you not click?

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

– Mark Twain

This is one of the quotes I shared in my original Twain post, but it’s worth another look. Be careful with your word choice, from both the SEO perspective as well as the readability perspective.

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”

– Joyce Carol Oates

I like the idea of writing as a circular, not a linear, process. It’s not until you’ve “finished” a piece that you can really say what it’s about. Once you get to the end, go back to the beginning and create the lead that the blog post/ad copy/whatever really needs to be successful.

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

– W. Somerset Maugham

The same could be said about content writing. We’re all operating on a trial-and-error basis in an industry where there are virtually no rules. By the way, that should be exciting – not scary!

Have some famous quotes or content writing tips of your own that you’d like to share? Post them in the comments section. 


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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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