From the desk of Victor Pride
Subj: 19 Tools and Rules for the Aspiring Professional Writer
So you want to be a writer huh? Cool, here's what you do…
Study how the Website for Winners crafts each masterpiece. Take note of the way we write. Study how we craft paragraphs, short and full of intrigue. Long paragraphs are for dodo birds but short paragraphs are intriguing.
See how we build to a thesis in an article. Rather that coming to you upfront, we build to it. We never start an article with something dry and dull. We always start with something intriguing.
It’s not an article, it’s an experience.
First we make you feel. We arouse your curiosity before we get to the meat of the article. Only then, when we know you’re interested, do we give you the meat.
We build to it. We play with you before we give you your reward and we always leave you wanting more. Start with intrigue and build from there.
Write the experience, not the information. The information will reveal itself, that part is easy. Say this 100 times out loud — WRITE THE EXPERIENCE. After you say it 100 times write it down and tape it to your laptop so you always see it. Write the experience.
You’re not writing an article or a book, you’re seducing the reader and giving them an experience. Great writers don’t write, they seduce. So that’s what you do – you seduce them and give them an experience. Seduce them so good that they don't want the experience to end.
If you do it right they'll be begging for the next step – so always give them the next step. Never let them go away wanting more but not having more. They always need a next step.
What exactly do I mean by give them the next step? I'll tell you later. First, let's do some learnin'………
Professional Writing 101 with Professor Victor
19 Tools and Rules for the Aspiring Professional Writer
This piece is about how to write non-fiction.
If you want to write fiction I would suggest you read On Writing by the greatest and most prolific fiction storyteller who ever lived, Stephen King.
If you want to transcend as a writer of non-fiction, well, please continue reading…..
#1 – Forget about being a great writer (for now) and focus on having something worth saying (Your message is the most important)
The message is more important than the medium. You can't be a great writer of you don't have anything to say. Great writing doesn't exist without a message.
Did you ever hear the phrase “You can't polish a turd”?
Words without meaning do not equal great writing. Without a message you don't have anything. So that's what you need – a message.
A great message transcends writing ability. But how do you develop your message?
#2 – Experience life and then share that experience
When you think of “struggling writers” you think of lazy jerks with ponytails who refuse to do any real work and live in a fairy-tale world. They're “struggling” because they cannot relate to people. That's an easy fix.
There's a lot more to writing great than just writing. Writing in and of itself is nothing. Just words. If those words don't have meaning then they aren't anything at all.
Until the words come alive in the reader's mind, they're nothing. So you need to make the words come alive. You make the words come alive through experience and understanding. You write words that your reader intimately relates to and understands.
You need to understand certain things about life so you can write about them and illuminate your readers. The way you get that understanding is by experiencing it firsthand. The only way you'll ever have something to say is if you experience life.
(Note: You can be a watcher and an outsider and be a great writer. You just have to view life situations and turn those situations into stories.)
What if you don't have life experience but you love to write?
That's great. I'm not saying don't write (you should always write) – I'm saying focus on life. Living life is the one thing that will help your writing. A guy who has a lifetime of experience has an endless creative well to draw upon.
Great writing is like Becky. If you chase her, she'll run away. If you do your own thing and don't focus on her, she'll come running back to you. After you've attracted her, that's when you can give her attention.
When you have something to say, that's when you can focus on the craft of writing.
#3 – Start writing more and keep a journal
Writing is a craft. You have to practice it. You can’t be a writer if you never write. You can have all the writing talent in the world but it means nothing if you don't maximize it.
The only way to maximize your writing talent is by writing more frequently. Practice makes perfect.
Writing is free. The only barrier to entry is your willingness to actually do the work. You have the time to write if you make the time to write.
Keep a journal
A journal is an easy way to write every day. Just write your thoughts and feelings for the day. Easy peasy.
I always say everyone should have a blog. And everyone SHOULD have a blog…
But not every blog should be a copycat of B&D. If you don't yet have a message you should instead keep a journal.
Your blog should be your journal UNTIL you have something original to say. Until then, write about your day and get writing practice.
#4 – Write the way you speak (sort of)
The best writing reads like a conversation, not like a 1st century epic. A lot of would-be writers try to sound smart by using uncommon words (doesn't work).
To be authentic you need to write the way you speak….with a little twist.
When you speak you cannot go back and edit your words and re-say what you just said. When you speak out loud it's one and done. You don't get a second chance to say it right. You only get one chance to say it right.
You can always say it the right way when you write it down. That's because you can edit your writing a thousand times until you've got it perfect.
You can make your writing better than your speaking. You can trim the “uhs” and “ums” and get rid of all the filler language.
So don't write the way you speak – instead, write the way you wish you spoke.
What Pop Songs Know About Writing That You Don't
(The Craft of Writing)
#5 – Find the rhythm and the flow
Your words should have rhyme, rhythm and reason. Your writing should flow. It should be rhythmic.
The structure of your writing is the most overlooked aspect of writing. Each sentence should flow to the next. Each word should be easy to read and each pair of words should fit.
No rhythm + no flow = no melody = no one remembers
Here's an example of a sentence that has no flow:
Self-righteous and blind, these profligates propagate barbarism in the heart of Rome.
Try to read these words: profligates propagate barbarism. Those words are impossible to say. They don't fit. There are too many Ps and Gs. There is no rhythm, rhyme or reason to that sentence. It's awful.
Now read this dialogue from a Glengarry Glen Ross movie scene and tell me if it has rhythm:
Put that coffee down! Coffee's for closers only. Do you think I'm fucking with you? I am not fucking with you. I'm here from downtown. I'm here from Mitch and Murray. And I'm here on a mission of mercy.
Those words flow like water. There are no extra words. The words are all on beat. They fit, they flow, they have rhyme and reason.
Read these words: mission of mercy. Those are the easiest words to say. They fit and they flow. They're a perfect match for each other.
That's why it's one of the most famous scenes in movie history. The man who wrote those words, the great David Mamet, writes to a metronome.
Mamet is a genius who knows the importance of rhythm and flow and that's why he writes to a beat.
(I write to a one-song playlist, more on that later.)
#6 – Copy the right way (Study quotes and songs)
I'm probably the most copied blog artist who ever lived. Every blog I go to I see direct or indirect influence from the great B&D.
They say imitation is flattery and I'm flattered. But I can't begin to tell you how dumb it is to copy a blog and write…..another blog!
Why am I copied so much? Three reasons:
- I have a message
- I'm original
- I'm the greatest
But here's a secret: I'm not that original, I just copied from better sources. I didn't copy a blog and write another blog.
What I did, instead, was copy the memorable structure of songs, quotes and movie dialogue. I used the rhythm, flow and word choice of great songs, quotes and movies…
Then I brought that feeling to B&D. I transpose the feeling of great music and I turn my words into that experience.
Nothing gives you a better feeling or experience than music. In the history of the spoken word, the best writing can always be found in music.
Not everybody reads books or blogs but everybody has had a song stuck in their head. Singers know how to connect with their audience (and it isn't by using big words and long sentences).
#7 – Make your words quotable so people get turned on by your writing
If you can write a great sentence with 10 or fewer words you can be a great writer. Your readers' may not feel your writing…until they stumble upon a great quote.
A great quote will turn everything around for an unsure reader. If they feel your words they're yours. Great quotes are the spark that starts the fire in the reader's mind.
Quotes are like music in written word. Quotes are what makes us feel good, or bad, or feel anything. The lines you remember and repeat are the quotes. Great quotes tell the whole story.
“If you aren't quotable then you aren't notable.” -Victor Pride
Put as much meaning into as few words as possible. Make sure those words have rhyme, rhythm and reason.
Be memorable like a song. When people are walking down the street what gets stuck in their heads? Songs.
Quotes are an author's catchy pop chorus. Write in quotes and be memorable. No great quotes = no great author.
This is the recipe for a great quote: The most amount of meaning in the least amount of words.
Great quotes are rarely specific. We love quotes because we can give them our own meaning (just like great songs).
Study great quotes to learn how to write persuasively and effectively. Quotes should be short, sweet, musical and to-the-point.
#8 – Have courage in your blood and fire in your stare
The message should be inside you burning to get out. You need to have the courage to let it out. If you needed the message, other people need the message.
When you have something to say, say it. Say it with confidence and your readers will believe you.
You need that fire ? that drives you to put your message into words. You should feel as if the fire will burn you up if you don't get your message out.
You should be burning to say what you have to say. “I am BURNING to tell you this. I am BURNING to help you.”
Fire, true fire, true passion always comes across in your writing. It's not something that can be faked. Passionate people are influential people. Passion is contagious.
When I write from deep personal experience, when I have something I want or need to say, my writing is excellent. When I’m not writing from experience, or when I don’t REALLY have something to say, my writing isn't great.
You could be the most talented writer who ever lived, but unless you have something to say your writing talent is meaningless.
Unless you say it passionately and convincingly no one will listen and no one will care. You cannot 2nd guess your own message. Have the fire inside you and have the courage to burn for it.
How to have the fire? Life experience. Plain and simple. How to get the courage to burn? Eliminate shame.
#9 – Always be honest, even when you lie (know your subject well)
It should go without saying but it doesn't – you should know what you're talking about.
You have to find your place in life before you can write about it. You should know so much that the words just pour out of your heart and soul from your fingertips.
Everyone is qualified to write about what they know, no one is qualified to write about what they don't know. Any idiot can teach you how to put words on paper…
(Writing teachers in college? Those dodo birds don't even know that the best writing is in pop songs.)
…But no one can teach you experience.
I already told you everyone should have a blog. When I say “Everyone should have a blog” what a lot of my readers hear is “Everyone should have a B&D copycat blog”.
NO NO NO! Everyone needs a blog to practice writing. Not everyone is qualified or mature enough to give life advice.
You need life experience to draw upon (see points #1 and #2). It’s phoney baloney for an 18 year old to talk about the key to happiness. 18 year olds don’t know shit about shit. No one wants to hear an 18 year old's life advice.
I can take an encounter at the grocery store and make the readers laugh or cry or angry or happy. I can turn daily encounters into magnum opuses.
But only because I have many years of wild experience to draw upon. I done lived it all and I done done it all.
I couldn’t have written anything of meaning when I was 18 years old. I just wasn’t able. I was not mature enough. You need that life experience to draw upon.
You don't have to be of a certain age to be a great writer. Some men mature faster than other men. You can be any age and be a great writer if you have the passion. ? Fire knows no age.
You can't fake the fire. If you're writing is phoney baloney all of your readers will be able to sense it. Passion Fire is the most important thing to possess if you want to write persuasively aka make a living from your writing.
“If you can persuade – you can get paid.” -Victor Pride
If you have the fire you can influence others even if your writing skills are subpar. Fire beats writing skills.
You can always learn writing skills – you cannot learn fire. Fire will come with experience. If you don't have it right now, don't sweat it because one day you will have it.
#10 – WRITER’S HIGH (and how to get it with a one-song playlist)
You might write in your office, or the coffee shop or the park – but you shouldn't really be there. Not mentally.
Great writing will take you someplace else. Your surroundings won't matter at all. They should be invisible to you.
Turn off your phone, close your email, close your web browser. Be in the zone, in the moment, and nothing else will matter. You won’t see or hear anything.
It will just be you and your words. If you're not transported to another world during your writing, the writing isn't good.
The one-song playlist
Find a song that moves you. The song should have a continual beat. The beat needs to be constant., hypnotizing.
Put one song on repeat – listen to it over and over. Listen to the song on repeat and hypnotize yourself.
Let the emotion of the song into your bones. Have an eye-opening, mouth wide revelation while you write. Go into the world of the music.
Let the song penetrate your psyche….and then tune it out. Eventually the song will become background noise. You won’t even hear it, but you'll still have that beat (remember the importance of a beat?).
Every song has a feeling – put that feeling into your work. Transcribe the feeling of the song to words. Give your readers the same feeling that that song gave you.
Music is the #1 communication tool for a reason, so copy it.
#11 – Start with an idea and add coffee (get high, man)
The great Stephen King was addicted to cocaine and alcohol. I don't recommend that! But it's all about getting out of your head and getting into the words on the page. You have to find what works for you.
I recommend coffee. Coffee is great for writers and is a cornerstone in every great writer's arsenal. I tend to drink a lot of it when I'm deep in a writing session (sometimes with Modafinil).
The most prolific author I know drinks more coffee than anyone I have ever seen. Coffee may be the real secret to a prolific author's output.
Find what works for you. I recommend Red Coffee. Yes, it's my brand and it's fantastic.
How to Actually Write Well: Editing Tips from the Mad Professor
#12 – Editing is the secret ingredient for writing well. You have to edit
Editing is a big part of writing professionally. Writing is only half of the project. You have to edit to be great. Editing is a must. The structure always needs work.
Writing IS NOT PERFECT the first time you write. Nobody writes a masterpiece on the first draft. Pros know this. Pothead amateurs are too lazy to care, man.
The first draft is always called the rough draft – because it's always a little rough until you fix it. You fix the rough draft with editing. That's called your polished draft.
Professional writing is a 2-step process:
STEP #1 – You have to get the words down on paper.
STEP #2 – You have to arrange those words in the right way.
When you first write you are just writing to get the information out. You aren't paying attention to structure, timing, flow etc. You write the gist of your piece first. Then you have to mold it into a masterpiece.
“If you don't edit you don't get it” – Victor Pride
I spend as much time (or more) editing as I spend writing. My beginning articles and my finished articles look nothing alike.
My articles start out as a series of notes and thoughts and journal entries. They're then edited for HOURS to craft a masterpiece.
The structure of your finished piece only reveals itself to you after you have written the information down. The arrangement of words has to flow. Flow will only happen when you take the time to arrange your words properly.
Writing is a 2-step process not a one step process! This is your 2-step writing process: Write the words – arrange the words so that they flow.
#13 – Cut cut cut excess! (Cut and paste for maximum effect)
During your editing process you need to ruthlessly trim any words that don't belong. Not every single word you write needs to be published in the final draft.
A lot of words can (and should) go bye-bye. Whatever you do don't interrupt the flow with a word or phrase that doesn't fit.
Too many words + Long, specific sentences = CLOSED / BYE BYE / GOODNIGHT AND GOODBYE / ZZZZZZZZ
You also need to edit the structure of your piece (using cut and paste). The way you write information down is not the always the same way that information needs to be read.
You are writing as a business now so make it easy and clean for the reader. You cannot be lazy with editing unless you're an amateur.
#14 – Use the fewest words to get the biggest benefit
We're giving the readers a feeling. We're not boring them to death with dry and dull writing. We're not dragging our readers down with specificity.
Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. We're leaving our writing open to our readers experiences.
You'll never find an impossible-to-say sentence in a hit pop song. You'll only find catchy writing that everyone can relate to. That's the beauty of a great song – the words only have the meaning that the listener gives to them.
What's the meaning behind Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin? I have no idea (no one does). But I know the meaning and the feeling it gives me (and millions of other people).
That's because the words in a great song are OPEN, they are not closed. They are open to interpretation. The words in a pop song allow the listener to input his own meaning. Great writing should be musical like Mamet.
Note: If you're writing about a specific product you obviously want to be specific about the product. Never call the product “it”. Call the product by it's name so people don't have to read your mind and guess what you're talking about.
#15 – Make it easy to read (No big paragraphs and no rambling!)
You have to make it as easy for your readers as possible. It is YOUR JOB to make your work easy to read.
A hard-to-read sentence or paragraph is a BIG PROBLEM. Pros fix problems – amateurs say whatever, man.
The less they read – the less money you make – the less influence you have. Get it? Good!
Get rid of big paragraphs. We have no attention span. You’re dumb if you think we do. Big paragraphs are like a dirty kitchen – we'll never start!
Don't ramble. Rambling sentences are too confusing for your readers. And if you do ramble, no problem, you can fix it with editing. Here's an example of a rambling sentence:
As I want to give you guys an example of a full blown solid cutting diet in this article detailing everything from the scale measurements to the exact calorie totals of each food item, I will take the most universally applicable diet that will help EVERY SINGLE PERSON who uses it get ripped if they follow it correctly.
That sentence hurts my brain, eyes and heart. Here’s how I would fix it:
Below is a full blown solid cutting diet. Everything is detailed, from scale measurements to exact calorie totals of each food.
This is the most universally applicable diet that will help EVERY SINGLE PERSON who uses it get ripped (if they follow it correctly).
It went from impossible to read to completely easy to read with a few quick edits. Long sentences and paragraphs are a grind. Get rid of them. This is your #1 reason for editing: MAKE IT EASY TO READ.
#16 – Use words that people understand (Don’t use big words)
Ever read a paragraph full of big words and at the very end you have no idea what the author was trying to say? Don't worry, the author wouldn't know either.
I used to study the dictionary as a kid. No joke. I learned all kinds of words. But I learned even more about the people who use uncommonly large or complicated words…
I learned that people who have nothing to say hide their incompetence under a mess of big words. It's an ego thing but we're not in the ego business, we're in the making money business.
Remember this sentence?
Self-righteous and blind, these profligates propagate barbarism in the heart of Rome.
This person was trying to sound smart. It didn't work, they sound stupid. It's not hard to understand big words but it is hard to understand a complete mess of words.
You do not sound smart if people cannot understand what you're trying to say. If you cannot take a big idea and use small words to describe it then you do not understand the idea.
People who have something to say speak clearly. If you can't explain it to a child – you can't explain it to anyone.
Understand your message and simplify it so that everyone can understand it. It's more important to be understood than it is to sound smart.
Think Donald Trump's plain speak vs any other politician's weasel speak. Donald Trump said Make America Great Again. Victor Pride said Make it EASY to Read.
The Business of Writing
#17 – Writing as a business not a hobby
It takes a lot more than just being a “good writer” to turn writing into a career. You could be talented with words but it means nothing if a) No one reads you b) Your subject is boring c) You don't have a professional plan to make money.
Remember the title of this article? You should remember it, every word I use has a meaning! The title is So You Want To Be a PROFESSIONAL Writer.
Professional: (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.
To be a professional you need to get paid. When it comes to the business of writing you need to remember 3 things.
- Your writing has to be easy to read
- Your writing has to be influential & persuasive
- Your writing has to have a next step (the money step)
You don't write just to write. People who do nothing but write are lazy bums. Your writing has to have a purpose. You need to lead your readers to the next step. Words don't pay you without a next step.
#18 – Think bigger than writing (small details vs the big picture)
So you're a great writer but “can't catch a break”? No, you're just a lazy pothead who isn't willing to do the necessary work.
Writing in and of itself will get you nothing so don't have dreams of being a “writer”. Writing is a means to an end – it isn't everything. Writing as a business requires more than just writing.
In addition to being a writer you also have to be a mad professor businessman. Writing is only a portion of what you do. Your writing business STARTS with writing but it doesn't end there.
You didn't think you were gonna make money just by writing words did you? Don't be an idiot. Writing is just the beginning.
You have to be a salesman as well as a writer. You have to sell your writing. It's easy. If you followed my writer's blueprint to success you will already be influential and persuasive.
The hard part is thinking bigger than writing. You need impractically big dreams to be a big success as a writer.
You gotta think big to win big. I don't know who first said that but he was a genius with words.
#19 – Always be in control of your destiny (Own your work instead of selling it)
You need to own your words. Where can I find work as a writer? Who will hire me? That's the small picture. You gotta think big, remember? As long as you're thinking you might as well think big.
Getting hired as a writer is small. Freelance writers give away ownership of their work for a few bucks. You only get paid ONE TIME if you sell your writing. If you do it right, like me, you get paid every damn day for your writing.
Selling your work to a publishing company is small. A publisher is a middle-man, getting in between you and your customers. That's a dying business model filled with dinosaurs. Here's 5 words that flow: Dying business model for dinosaurs.
Creating your own media outlet that pays you directly is the big picture. Self-Publishing is the future because we have the internet. You can go directly to your customers without giving a big percentage to a large publishing company.
More money is available to you on your own than by selling your soul to a publisher. You literally do not need anybody (other than customers) to make a great living as a writer. You can publish your own book and make more money than “best selling” authors make.
My man Cernovich makes an easy 6 figures yearly from his great book Gorilla Mindset. That book was written while we were in Vietnam livin' free. How much money did he make? A lot. His book publisher? Don't make me laugh. He self-published and all he got was a lot of money and influence.
It's a new world and destiny is in your hands. In this new world you are the master and commander. You already know more about professional writing than any writing professor.
You could turn that knowledge into a You, Inc. business or you could do nothing. Up to you. But remember…
If you aren't the owner, you're the owned.
Until next time.
PS – You thought I forgot about your next step didn't you? Silly goose, I never forget.
Your next step — write 500 words seducing and teasing me (the reader). This is just an intro not a full article. Write this in the comments section below (feel free to critique others' writing).
You have already learned the technique, all you need now is the intrigue. Write 500 words that make me want to click. Your goal — seduce me into wanting more.
If you bore me, I’m gone. But if you’re intriguing – well – how could I ever refuse?