Need to write some sparkling copy to promote your event but feeling uninspired?
Never fear; we’ve gathered together 25 pearls of wisdom from some of the greatest writers, teachers and marketers.
Read on to discover the processes these wordsmiths use to write great copy, where they take their inspiration from and what they do when writer’s block sets in…
On getting started
“Solitary walks are great for getting new ideas. It’s like you’re in a video game and you pick up idea coins on the way.”
― Joyce Rachelle
“Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn’t necessary in a long-term relationship. Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.”
― Julia Cameron
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain
“Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.”
— Norman Mailer
On honing your skill
“10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
― Brian Clark
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
“You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that’s just the way it is. It’s like learning an instrument, you’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot, cause I wrote an awful lot before I wrote anything I was really happy with.”
― J.K. Rowling
“Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven.”
― Walter Benjamin
“Copy is not written. If anyone tells you ‘you write copy’, sneer at them. Copy is not written. Copy is assembled. You do not write copy, you assemble it. You are working with a series of building blocks, you are putting the building blocks together, and then you are putting them in certain structures, you are building a little city of desire for your person to come and live in.”
— Eugene Schwartz
On writing copy that sells
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
— Leo Burnett
“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”
— David Ogilvy
“People aren’t interested in you. They’re interested in themselves.”
— Dale Carnegie
“We don’t want to be something for everybody, we want to be everything for some people.”
— Carlos Ghosn
“We have become so accustomed to hearing everyone claim that his product is the best in the world, or the cheapest, that we take all such statements with a grain of salt.”
— Robert Collier
“People don’t read advertising, they read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad.”
— Howard Gossage
“Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.”
— Shirley Polykoff
“Consumers do not buy products. They buy product benefits.”
— David Ogilvy
“In writing good advertising it is necessary to put a mood into words and to transfer that mood to the reader.”
— Helen Woodward
“Make your copy straightforward to read, understand and use. Use easy words; those that are used for everyday speech. Use phrases that are not too imprecise and very understandable. Do not be too stuffy; remove pompous words and substitute them with plain words. Minimize complicated gimmicks and constructions. If you can’t give the data directly and briefly, you must consider writing the copy again.”
— Jay Abraham
“Making love to me is amazing. Wait, I meant: making love, to me, is amazing. The absence of two little commas nearly transformed me into a sex god.
― Dark Jar Tin Zoo
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
― Dr. Seuss
“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”
― Don Roff
On overcoming difficulties
“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
— Lawrence Block
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”
— Maya Angelou
“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
― Hilary Mantel
Feeling revved up and ready to write? Before you pick up your pen, check out our Ultimate Guide to Copywriting for Events. Learn how to write copy that will inspire readers to click ‘buy now’ and send your ticket sales spiralling!