10 Steps to Writing Well

Sep 6, 2023 | Content

When coming up with quality content, rip a page from Ernest Hemingway’s book. Simplicity.

Step one: Keep it simple, stupid. But really, it works. Hemingway, the OG 20th-century word wizard, proved that good writing is quick and direct. This tip applies whether you’re crafting social media posts or blabbering on your blog. Trust me, it’s not rocket science. We just like to complicate things for no good reason.

Step two: Ditch the fancy words. Stick to the basics. Don’t be throwing “utilize” around like confetti when “use” works just fine. I had this fancy-pants prof once who called that kind of word “pompous.” Hemingway would’ve high-fived that dude.

Step three: Be a boss with an active voice. Instead of saying “the story was written,” go all superhero and say “I wrote the damn story.” It’s snappier, less like a robot, and makes you look confident, experienced and damn good at what you do.

Step four: Verbs, baby, verbs! Make ’em strong, like they’ve been bench-pressing. And easy on the adjectives, okay? Hemingway was the master of not overloading with details. He wanted readers to picture stuff, but also have room to let their imaginations run wild.

Step five: Kill the fluff. Every word needs a purpose. If a word isn’t pulling its weight, give it the boot. You are not running a word daycare here.

Step six: Show off, don’t ramble. Dialogue and actions speak louder than your Aunt Sally after one too many margaritas. Paint a picture with your words, but don’t belabor the point and spoon-feed your readers – let them use their brains for a change.

Step seven: Open your eyes, see the world! Hemingway knew that just passing through life is a one-way ticket to lousy writing. Keep your peepers peeled for juicy details. Truth is stranger and more interesting than fiction.

Step eight: Short sentences rule, long sentences drool. If you’re huffing and puffing like a marathon runner just to get through one sentence, it’s a run-on disaster. Hack it into smaller bits and enjoy the smooth ride. Besides, you will sound like an academic or worse, a lawyer.

Step nine: Be real. Be you. Hemingway said something about having a built-in “bullshit detector.” In other words, be authentic. Share your own crazy experiences and feelings – that’s what makes your writing pop. Know your own voice and don’t use someone else’s.

Step ten: Edit ruthlessly. Hack away like a machete-wielding maniac. Hemingway edited away until only the good stuff remained. If you’re brave enough, let someone else have a go at it too. They’ll spot the weird bits you missed.

Be curious and observant to tell a good story.

“If a writer stops observing, he is finished,” Hemingway said.

“Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.”