Thanks for the nod! These are all great articles (especially Christine’s).
Posted September 23, 2008 in Writing
There’s one place, though, that writing is conspicuously absent. Showcase, Gallery, and Inspiration posts typically ignore writing and focus on design and art (probably because of all the pretty pictures). Despite not having much representation in this area, I’d bet that most writers need and benefit from brilliant examples just as much as the next guy.
So, this post is for all of you writers out there. Here are 10 examples of some incredibly good writing:
This is a blog post written by Brian Clark of Copyblogger (you knew he’d be on the list, so let’s just move past that…), and it is one of the most magnificent stories I’ve seen online. Not to mention, the lesson in this post is something everyone will benefit from.
“The massive pool of blood in my head was pressing precariously against my brain. The doctors marveled that I was alive, much less walking and talking.
They looked and shook their heads in wonder at the MRI results. I politely reminded them I was indeed alive, awake, and actually in the room.”
This article, while not as emotional as the last, is still excellent in its own right. It is an article that weaves complicated ideas into easy to read sentences and personal stories into business advice. Read a few sentences, and you’ll see just how difficult it is to pull away.
“Have you ever justified your lack of success towards a goal with the excuse that you lacked the experience? Or that you lacked the resources: money and time? Did you give up before you even tried?
Have you ever looked at a competitor in your field and justified their success to something trivial like:
- She’s successful, because she’s got better computer skills.
- He’s successful because he knows the right people.
- John did it, because he’s loaded, he has more money than I’ll ever see.
We’ve missed the real work behind the scene. We’ve robbed them of the real reason why they are successful. Plus, we have spent extra energy justifying our lack of success and missed real opportunities to learn from their excellence.”
This post is written by one of my all-time favorite writers, Christine OKelly. Her ability to use life stories and personal experiences in explaining valuable business lessons is truly second to none.
“The relationship I had with my job before I ditched it was bittersweet. I loved my job, but it was sucking the life out of me. There was one time where I actually fell asleep sitting up at my desk while in the middle of a face to face conversation with someone!
In the short time that I worked there as an Operation’s Manager, I had won the company’s top performance award, won thousands of dollars in bonuses, had my stock options doubled and was in the running for a Director position. But at what cost?”
Despite the ease of using all blogs as inspirational examples, there are many other sources that I’d rather not ignore. Getting Real is a book written by 37Signals about software design, and it is actually a remarkable example of good writing. The entire book is available to read online for free.
“Want to build a successful web app? Then it’s time to Get Real. Getting Real is a smaller, faster, better way to build software.
Getting Real is about skipping all the stuff that represents real (charts, graphs, boxes, arrows, schematics, wireframes, etc.) and actually building the real thing.
Getting real is less. Less mass, less software, less features, less paperwork, less of everything that’s not essential (and most of what you think is essential actually isn’t).
Getting Real is staying small and being agile… ”
When I first read this story it entirely obliterated my view on creative writing. In less than 6 words, Hemingway wrote a story that holds more emotion and meaning than many full length novels.
“For sale: baby shoes, never used.”
This is an article that James Chartrand (of Men With Pens) wrote for me at the SmallFuel Marketing blog. In it, he explains the complicated topic of branding with nothing but simple language and beautiful allegory.
“Most people have a difficult time understanding the concept of branding. Yet branding is the foundation for your business, the most crucial marketing aspect that lets you differentiate yourself from the competition.
Branding is the all-encompassing mental image that people perceive of your business. It collects the experiences and associations attached to your product or service. Branding creates the recognition, expectations and reactions of consumers to set your business apart.”
A big part of writing is about personality — showing emotion in your writing and using a style that is uniquely yours. In my mind there is one blogger who exemplifies this ability far more than most: Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz. Her blog and articles are bursting with so much personality and realism that it is virtually impossible to leave.
“Towards the end of the Great Depression, J. Paul Getty — the first American billionaire — bought the Pierre Hotel in New York City at a fire sale price. He paid $2.5 million, a quarter of what it cost to build the hotel just eight years earlier. He later quoted Baron Rothschild, 18th century British nobleman in saying:
The time to buy is when there is blood in the streets.
To paraphrase America’s current fearless leader, it’s time to go shopping.”
A good topic or idea is worth little without execution, and it is in the execution that Dave Navarro excels. Not only does this article cover a subject that is useful to all of us, but is also profoundly well organized and structured. His writing flows smoothly, and he explains everything clearly in this wonderful example of great writing.
“A freelancer’s life isn’t always as glamorous as it looks from the outside. Working in pajamas and bunny slippers may seem like a welcome break from a soul-crushing corporate job, but the pressures that freelancers face can cause stress levels as high (or higher) than your typical 9-to-5 employee. The rush and responsibilities of managing a freelance business cause more than a few rising stars to burn themselves out before their time, and it’s never pretty. If you’re not feeling the love you once had for your freelance freedom, use these tips to unwind before you implode. ”
The final example of writing in this post is written by FreelanceFolder’s own Jon Phillips. This article shows off something that many bloggers profess to have, but few actually use well — a conversational style. Jon creates a story and chats his way through this article in a way that makes him seem like a friend by the time you finish. Read it out and see for yourself.
“I used to work in sales and marketing for a big telecom company here in Montreal before I decided to go solo. It was a big building, 14 floors I think. On each floor you had a different department (or many).
I remember the 9th floor where all the creative people used to spend their days; designing the next version of the website, the colorful posters, writing kick-ass sales letters, thinking of a new logo and all.
I ended up working there for a couple of weeks (although they ‘needed‘ me in another department, and I eventually had to leave… damn-it!). And almost everyday we would see people coming in to give their resume. Most of them didn’t seem interested in the creative stuff and looked like they just needed a job.
Well, one day this guy showed up with a red chair, and he wanted to meet the supervisor, he said he didn’t care about the HR guy, he wanted to see the immediate supervisor so he could talk to him for a sec…”
These 10 examples are from excellent writers that I’ve come across in my past few years as a blogger and marketer, but I am certainly not the only person with an opinion on the subject, and there are many other excellent examples out there. What are some writing pieces that give you inspiration?
About the author: Mason Hipp is an entrepreneur, small business marketing guru, and writer. He blogs about marketing and small business at the SmallFuel Marketing Blog.
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Thanks for the nod! These are all great articles (especially Christine’s).
Thanks for the mention, Mason. This was actually pretty cool to read – now you have me thinking about my favorite posts and what section of them touched me well.
And you’re right. We writers need to showcase what we do a little bit more instead of just blogging about it. (*makes notes for new redesign*)
Dang, how is it with all my friends being on this list (well, except Hemmingway and 37Signals) I’m such a lousy writer? Something’s not rubbing off. Everyone here deserves to be here, that’s for sure. Okay… back to writing, now.
This will be the oddest answer I’m sure, but Neil Cavuto writes with a cadence and style that is top notch (better not be one of his staff writers). I study his flow when he reads his opinions at the end of his shows.
A. Hamilton, someone you’ve never heard of and probably never will, is one of my favorites, too.
ps. good list, indeed. I concur.
Original idea for article :)
Really good list – for me as not native english speaking It would be hard to write like that, but if You learn from the best, You become better :) Thanks :)
Great list but what about #8?
Ah, Fiona, you’ve found the spot where Michael Martine’s post was going to go :-)
It must have accidentally disappeared somehow…
Sadly, it is very unlikely that Hemingway wrote the baby shoes story. It’s just a popular myth.
I’ve heard people argue the likelihood of his authoring that story both ways, but I don’t think that is the important point.
Whether Hemingway wrote it or not, it is an unbelievably inspiring piece of work.
You’ve inspired to start a new collection of writing snippets from my favorite posts. What a terrific way to share with others and promote your favorite bloggers!
Wow, I love this post! Great idea! The Hemingway piece is one of the most eye opening things I’ve seen lately. Saying so much, by saying so little. Amazing.
Thanks for sharing this post! I’m about to write an article about good business writing and this was really interesting. My favorite example is Naomi Dunford’s unique and personal style, and also the style of Jon Phillips.
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