With nearly a hundred literary masterpieces between them, Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, and C.S. Lewis could be considered experts on the writing process. Fortunately for those who chose to take up the career in their wake, these famous authors left behind valuable tips and tricks to make the process easier.
While the blog’s conception was decades after their time, their knowledge is still applicable to the trade. Check out these 10 writing tips of the famous authors. See how relevant they are to your blog today.
Our first five tips come from Kurt Vonnegut. He instructed writers on how to establish a convincing and effective writing style. A paraphrase of his remarkable thoughts is as follows:
1. If your thoughts are scrambled any which way, your readers will think you don’t care about them.
2. Keep it simple. William Shakespeare used extremely simple sentences to convey extremely profound topics. For example, consider the famous line, “To be or not to be?” from Hamlet; the longest word is three letters long! Even the Bible opens with a simple, straight forward proclamation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
3. No matter how wonderful a sentence is, if it doesn’t add new and useful information it should be removed.
4. Say what you mean. If I ignored the rules of punctuation, invented words, and strung it all together any way I chose, no one would understand me.
5. Write on a topic that you are passionate about and which you feel others should care about too. It is your passion, not your eloquent language skills, which will be most compelling.
The next two tips come from John Steinbeck. His advice about the writing process can be summarized as:
6. Write freely and as rapidly as possible. Never correct or edit until the whole thing is finished. Stopping to rewrite is usually an excuse for not going forward.
7. Don’t be intimidated by the vastness of your audience. Imagine you are writing to a single reader. I have found it helps to pick out one real person I know and write to that one person.
C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis rounds out our list of ten tips with these three suggestions regarding vocabulary. No paraphrasing is necessary; we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
8. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
9. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
10. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “more people died,” don’t say “mortality rose.”
While none of these three men could possibly fathom the idea of online blogging, their words of wisdom still apply to our writing venue today.