Marketing Lessons from Great Storytellers

Jeff Swystun on storytellers…

I learned long ago that people enjoy buying stories not products. They insert themselves into the narrative when deciding to try and buy a brand. They imagine themselves in a new car and connect with its advertising. The promise of an exotic vacation paints a vivid picture of the potential experience. Marketing has always been about storytelling.

What follows is a selection of quotes from famous writers speaking about their craft. In these are amazing lessons for marketers. The quotes cover motivation, preparation, effort, content, style, quality, challenges, criticism and reward. Each is absolutely applicable and relevant to those who plan and execute marketing strategies.

Motivation

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Albert Camus

iBookstore-Ansicht“I write to understand as much as to be understood.” Elie Wiesel

“The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning and inhibit clarity.” Bill Watterson

“I just knew there were stories I wanted to tell.” Octavia E. Butler

“I write out of revenge.” William Goldman

Preparation

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading in order to write. A man will turn over half a library to make a book.” Samuel Johnson

“The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write about it.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything good.” William Faulkner

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” E. L. Doctorow

“Never, never try to scope the market.” Dean Koontz

Effort

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Robert Frost

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann

“To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.” Anne Rice

Content

“Write the book you want to read. The one you want to find.” Carol Shields

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” Jack Kerouac

“All words are pegs to hang ideas on.” Henry Ward Beecher

“When all the details fit in perfectly, something is probably wrong with the story.” Charles Baxter

“Remember to get the weather in your damn book–weather is very important.” Ernest Hemingway

Style

“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” Stephen King

“I have tried for much of my life to write as if I was composing my sentences to be read posthumously.” Christopher Hitchens

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.” Mark Twain

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” Elmore Leonard

Quality

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Mark Twain

“The first draft of anything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway

“Don’t get it right – get it WRITTEN!” Lee Child

“The story is always better than your ability to write it.” Robin McKinley

“Only a mediocre person is always at his best.” W. Somerset Maugham

Challenges

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” Neil Gaiman

“Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.” Steve Martin

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.” Ernest Hemingway

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” Sidney Sheldon

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” Joseph Heller

Criticism

“If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’.” David Mitchell

“Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs.” Christopher Hampton

“I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.” Samuel_Johnson_by_Joshua_Reynolds_2Samuel Johnson

“If critics say your work stinks it’s because they want it to stink and they can make it stink by scaring you into conformity with their comfortable little standards.” Jack Kerouac

Reward

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” James A. Michener

“I hate writing, I love having written.” Dorothy Parker

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

“The desire to write grows with writing.” Desiderius Erasmus

“Writing is a sweet, wonderful reward.” Franz Kafka

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