How can a person create great writing?
If you’re reading this page, it’s likely you want the answer to that question.
And by the end of this, you’ll have an idea.
I should warn you first.
It’s so tempting to tell you that great writing comes from:
a secret method, or…
a nifty template, or…
“one easy trick.”
No such shortcut exists.
Yes, you can find blueprints for sales pages.
You can find checklists for copywriting.
You can find patterns for blog posts.
These solutions are useful for the marketer, the salesman, or the businessperson.
But for the person who wants to write well consistently and repeatedly, these quick-fix methods can’t possibly offer the road to writing mastery.
“Writing more often” is not the answer
“Just write more” sounds nice in theory but falls short in practice.
You can’t achieve great nutrition by “eating more.” You can’t become fashionable by “wearing more.” You can’t build a house by “hammering more.”
Writing more often is a piece of the puzzle, not the whole picture.
“Reading more often” is not the answer
This, too, falls short of the full solution
You could walk into a museum and stare at Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, fixate on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, or drink up Frida Kahlo’s Viva la Vida. But at home, with a brush in hand, you couldn’t match their ability.
Waiting for your work to “feel right” is not the answer
A third option for great writing is to combine the two. Read a lot, write a lot, and then hope your work feels right.
Sadly, feelings are fragile.
You may feel that removing your second paragraph would make your argument clearer…
…but that impulse may just as well be driven by an intense desire to pee.
You may feel that another adjective belongs in the third sentence…
…but that desire could have been spawned by your reading too much bloated, wandering, self-indulgent poetry.
A lovesick writer feels differently about his draft than one who is in a healthy marriage.
An enneagram 9 would feel different than a 2, and an INTJ will not make the same assessments as an INFP.
Your feelings can get you stuck on a piece that’s already very good.
They can also falsely empower you to release mediocre work.
So if reading, writing, or feeling alone can’t get you great writing, what can?
The answer: studying the tools of great writing in action, in context.
All writers — from Malcolm Gladwell to Cardi B, from Nancy Meyers to Ernest Hemingway, from David Ogilvy to Shakespeare, from George Orwell to Amy Sherman Palladino — use the same tools to produce great writing.
The goal of this newsletter is to reverse engineer great writing and point out those tools.
These tools act as a foundation for all great writing.
This is because writing is a craft, like carpentry. Even with a blueprint, you can’t build a table without the tools. And even if you have the tools, a novice table will fall short of a master’s.
When you learn what they are and how to use them, all of that other writing advice becomes more powerful.
Writing more gives you a chance to practice the tools.
Reading more gives you a chance to see the tools at work.
Searching for an elusive feeling becomes a simple matter of trying out different tools.
Quite simply, the more you analyze great writing, the more you become great, writing.
The Economics of this Newsletter
Like many projects on the internet, I’m doing this for free and for fun.
If what you learn here is valuable, and you feel compelled to contribute, you can do so in the following ways.
1. Become a paid member.
You can do that by scrolling up and hitting that button.
2. Work with me
If you’re a writer, author, or entrepreneur with a book to sell, you may also benefit from these other projects of mine:
Group coaching for writers
If you want a little more personal attention on your writing, this might be a good option. My coaching focuses specifically on the foundation of writing skills (not platform or growth hacks).
Ideally, I run small, tight-knit groups. Anywhere between 6-10 people.
You leave this group with 8 really solid articles that serve your career goals, and a foundation of quality writing so you can create high-quality writing on demand.
If that sounds like a good fit for you, let’s talk about it.
Send me an email: todd (at) toddbrison (dot) com.
Buy a course about writing
My friend Tim Denning and I create courses that help online writers grow. These courses are focused more on the online part of online writing.
We give solutions for standing out in a crowded world, learning valuable platforms quickly, and monetizing your writing.
Whatever you are able to give helps me find, analyze, and teach more great writing.
Thanks in advance for whatever you contribute, and thanks for reading.
Here’s to your great writing.
Much love as always <3
-Todd B from Tennessee