The Art of Writing


Brevity is the soul of wit. Even though business writing is about clarity and persuasion, the fewer words the better.

The numero uno here is keeping things simple, not stupid. Simple writing is persuasive by default. A good argument in five sentences will sway more people than a brilliant argument in a hundred sentences. Don’t fight it.

Simple is minimalistic. The white space is where the magic happens. Simple means getting rid of extra words. Don’t write, “She is very beautiful” when you can write “She is beautiful.” You think the word “very” adds something. It doesn’t.

Prune your sentences. Say more with less. It’s good customer service. Kill your darlings. Delete beautiful ideas and phrases if they don’t help the customer solve their problem.

“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” *

I really don’t know who said that 🙂

Business writing is a customer service problem. You’re not the star—the reader is. Help them get what they want, as quickly and effectively as possible. They might want to solve a problem. They might want to be persuaded. Give ’em the goods.

Writing is also a design problem, according to Babak Nivi

“Never use the idiom of ‘the former or the latter.’ It forces the reader to go back and figure out what you’re referring to.”

Babak Nivi (of AngelList)

Make sure your writing is simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, stories (SUCCES from Made to Stick).

It’s no coincidence, entrepreneurs are the best writers. Read Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and even Warren Buffett.

Write short sentences. Avoid putting multiple thoughts in one sentence. Readers aren’t as smart as you’d think; and even if they are, assume they’re not, they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Read it twice. And again. Writing is rewriting. Email it to yourself and read it on your phone. This will force you to see the words with fresh eyes.

“It’s the mark of a charlatan to try and explain simple things in complex ways and it’s the mark of a genius to explain complicated things in simple ways”

Naval Ravikant

Oh, and there’s a book you should definitely read: Write Dumb by James Dowd. It’s the dumbest book about writing, but it works.

You’re welcome.

This entire post is just a collection of my thoughts as well as others.

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Start with the customer and walk backwards.

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