Writing

One message, one idea

If you want to be heard, follow a simple “One message, one idea” rule in your texts, emails, websites, and presentations. Don’t overload your audience with details, keep it simple.

One sentence, one idea. One paragraph, one idea. One essay, one idea. One post, one idea. See, I just did it!

So you want to be a writer?

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
In spite of everything,
Don’t do it.
Unless it comes unasked out of your
Heart and your mind and your mouth
And your gut,
Don’t do it.
If you have to sit for hours
Staring at your computer screen
Or hunched over your typewriter
Searching for words,
Don’t do it.

If you’re doing it for money or fame,
Don’t do it.
If you’re doing it because you want
Women in your bed,
Don’t do it.
If you have to sit there and
Rewrite it again and again,
Don’t do it.
If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
Don’t do it.
If you’re trying to write like somebody else,
Forget about it.

If you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
Then wait patiently.
If it never does roar out of you,
Do something else.
If you first have to read it to your wife
Or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
Or your parents or to anybody at all,
You’re not ready.

Don’t be like so many writers,
Don’t be like so many thousands of
People who call themselves writers,
Don’t be dull and boring and
Pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love.
The libraries of the world have
Yawned themselves to sleep
Over your kind.
Don’t add to that.
Don’t do it.

Unless it comes out of
Your soul like a rocket,
Unless being still would
Drive you to madness or
Suicide or murder,
Don’t do it.
Unless the sun inside you is
Burning your gut,
Don’t do it.

When it is truly time,
And if you have been chosen,
It will do it by
Itself and it will keep on doing it
Until you die or it dies in you.

There is no other way.
And there never was.

Charles Bukowski, 1920…1994

Author’s manifesto for 2021

I’ve been in commercial writing since 2017. I’ve come all the way from a freelancer to an owner of a design studio.

Here are 25 principles I’ve crafted over 5 years of my career. They’ll help you increase your value as a writer, and, therefore, your profit.

Editing

  1. Before you start writing a copy, think about how not to write one.
  2. Your text will not change the world. It’s just another text.
  3. Don’t play with the words, don’t move them around. It won’t make much of a difference.
  4. Don’t grind your copies to perfection. Publish fast, then polish. Perfect things exist only in your mind.
  5. Publish your post while it burns you from the inside and excites you.
  6. Hire a proofreader so that you wouldn’t have to argue with the client about spelling and punctuation.

Service

  1. Take responsibility for the result you provide, not for separate words, sentences, or a number of characters.
  2. Ask questions and listen to the client carefully. He has all the answers.
  3. Don’t be an asshole: don’t go missing and warn your clients when troubles arise.
  4. Don’t teach your client how to write texts, and don’t be stubborn like a ram.
  5. Don’t argue about your unique vision of writing and style. No one is interested in it. Solve the task and don’t try to show who’s the boss here.
  6. Leave emotions behind when you enter a Zoom meeting. Reschedule if you are off-balance.
  7. Don’t grovel and don’t settle for bad decisions. Defend your working routine, processes and principles.

Money

  1. Always work on a contract and take an advance payment.
  2. There is no such thing as an average price. Only a fair price. A fair price is the one that suits you and your client.
  3. It’s not easy to make a living on writing. To make more, sell the service, not the text or the number of characters.
  4. Develop skills in related areas: layout, management, design, code, typography, illustration, negotiation, law.
  5. Never work on urgent tasks. You won’t make much money, but you’re guaranteed to eat some shit and be a scapegoat in the end.
  6. Work only on the projects you wouldn’t be ashamed to put in your portfolio.
  7. Don’t get into a project with a bad context, especially out of need. You won’t be happy with the money made there.

Strength

  1. Remember that you’re great. You make a living using your head. Most people never dare to do it.
  2. When you don’t see a way out, go back to the initial brief and the task your client brought in. Usually, you’ll find an answer or a hint there.
  3. See all projects through to completion. In hard times remind yourself why you got into this project and keep the goal in mind like a lighthouse in the storm.
  4. Take care of your health: sleep at night, exercise, eat well. Make 10,000 steps a day, eat fruit, vegetables, and greens, drink more water and less coffee.
  5. Be honest and frank with yourself. All problems begin with a lie.

P. S. This year I’m going to talk to the authors, writers, and editors, even more, to fill the manifesto with new principles that I consider crucial and useful. I hope that in five years, when the fifth version of the manifesto comes out, we’ll be able to trace how the profession of the writer has changed.