10 Tips on Writing

I found this through Farnam Street Blog. David Ogilvy’s 10 tips on writing:

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Don’t entirely agree :smile:

  • Sometimes complex ideas require complex language.
  • Citations can be a good thing.
  • There are people some who use language simply for communication (ie "Can’t. Lunch meeting) and some who use it for expression (ie “Let’s thought-frolic.”) Ideally writing is both clear and expressive–life is not a series of launch codes.
  • Writing can lead to action. While the word “manifesto” is played out, writing can be a way to impassion folks and rouse troops.
  • Someone’s writing style endears them to me, personally, in a way that lists and bullet points just can’t.

I agree that there are different purposes for writing, some of which may be better served by complex langage. But for most of the writing I come across every day - this list would make my life easier. I also interpret them to leave quite a bit of flexibility. For example, one tip says “write the way you talk” rather than “write the way everyone talks” - that leaves room for different personalities.