What 8 Fiction Writers Can Teach You About Marketing

Black-and-white photo of Ernest Hemingway writing at a desk, 1953.
Ernest Hemingway writing at a campsite in Kenya, circa 1953. (Photo: Look Magazine)

If you create advertisements, sales letters, and other marketing materials, you might think that fiction writers don’t have a lot of useful advice to give you—but you’d be wrong.

Sure, writing a press release is very different from writing a novel, but you might be surprised by the number of similarities as well. After all, good writing is good writing.

Here’s some advice that you can apply on your next project.

1. Writing Is a Process

Image of a quote that says, "Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper." Quote by Anne Lamott.

Writing is a process, so get your ideas down and go from there.

Don’t worry about making it great the first time—you can write as many drafts as you need to get it right.

Don’t Miss: Writers, It’s Time to Stop Dreading the Revision Process

2. Get Over Perfectionism

Image of a quote that says, "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." Quote by Margaret Atwood.

Perfectionism can be destructive for any kind of creative work—whether that’s writing, painting, programming, or marketing.

Let go of the pressure to write the perfect ad or brochure. It will never happen. Strive for your best, but don’t expect it to be absolutely perfect.

3. Writing Requires Discipline

Image of a quote that says, "More than a simple matter of putting down words, writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer." Quote by Harper Lee.

Writing involves discipline and patience. It’s often hard to have the self-discipline to sit down and write, but that’s what it takes.

If you find yourself procrastinating on a big marketing project, a little discipline can go a long way. Committing to a schedule can also help—such as writing an hour a day or producing 2,000 words every week.

4. Writing Is Hard

Image of quote that says, "There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges." Quote by Ernest Hemingway.

Writing can be tough work. Even winners of the Pulitzer Prize feel that way, so don’t feel bad when it gets difficult—you’re not alone. If you put in the time to craft your marketing materials, good things will come.

Don’t Miss: 3 Challenges of Writing a Marketing Campaign (And What to Do About Them)

5. Good Ideas Can Strike When You Least Expect Them

Image of quote that says, "The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes." Quote by Agatha Christie.

You never know when your best ideas will strike. That doesn’t mean you should sit around, procrastinating on your work and waiting for great ideas to suddenly come to you.

It does mean you can’t always force brainstorming—so be patient. Research shows that insights often come to people while they’re doing routine activities.

“Jogging, swimming, knitting, or sipping brew at the coffeehouse may be your stimulus of choice,” write John J. Ruszkiewics and Jay T. Dolman in their book How to Write Anything. “Such routine activities keep the body occupied, allowing insights to mature.”

Don’t Miss: Distracted While Writing—Don’t Be a Victim

6. There’s No Secret Formula

Image of quote that says," Over the years I have written a great many stories, and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances." Quote by John Steinbeck.

Again, writing is a process, and even the pros don’t have a secret formula for success. So instead of focusing on the outcome, focus on putting in the effort.

For example, instead of saying, “This social media campaign needs to generate five leads a week,” say, “We’ll put in three hours per week on our social media campaign.”

7. Be Concise

Image of quote that says, "Anybody can have ideas—the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire on paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph." Quote by Mark Twain.

Be efficient and economical. Don’t say something in a whole paragraph when a simple sentence will do.

Write simply, clearly, and concisely—your readers will appreciate it.

Don’t Miss: When Writing Tries to Take the Long Way Home

8. Editing Is Crucial

Image of quote that says, "I'm all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil." Quote by Truman Capote.

Don’t underestimate the importance of editing.

As Capote’s quote illustrates, editing can often be more effective than writing. Even the pros don’t get it right on their first drafts—they need revisions and editing to polish their material and make it come to life.

If you’re looking for a copy editing team that understands marketing and solid writing principles, contact Super Copy Editors now to learn more about our professional editing services for marketers.

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I'm Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than two decades of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina. Today, I have put together a hand-picked team of copy editors, and we especially love working with ad agencies, marketing departments, and education companies to make their text as polished as possible. Learn more here.

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