How to write

You just need a pen and a sheet of paper, am I right? Well, that’s not enough

Martino Pietropoli
Nov 30, 2017 · 4 min read

When I decide to write something, I always follow some basic rules. I apply them with discipline because only them allow me to have the greatest success and be read by millions of people and eventually get rich.

Anyway, these are the rules.

Otherwise do not say or write anything, do not even try to write anything. What you write about can be a current topic (and you’ll have good chances of getting interest, as many as to be sooner forget when interest gets off), a general one, a story, whatever you want.

Don’t choose a topic according to its potential virality: supposed viral matters usually fail miserably, simply because virality can be hardly foreseen. You have to choose the ones you are interested in, regardless of the interest they will potentially arouse. If you write something you find interesting in the first place, that will surely come out.

The picture is the cover of the book/story/article you’re writing and books, you know, are chosen only for their covers.

You should choose it carefully because it explains in more or less subtle ways what your story is about. There should be at least a link.

Front image (or the cover) is like a symbolic door that allows the reader to enter into your world. It is what sets the reader apart from the rest of the world and allows him to get into your one. Images create a break from what the reader was reading/thinking a second before and are like a door leading to a room where you are telling your story. Don’t rely on stock images or at least get them from Unsplash or, if you’re good enough, try to draw and illustrate your own stories. I started to design my own covers/illustrations when I got bored of stock images or didn’t find anything that fit into my narration.

What’s the right lenght? “In medio stat virtus” that’s for “virtue stands in the middle” as the maxim of the scholastic philosophers goes. Not too short (otherwise just tweet it) and not too long (unless it's incredibly interesting). I rely on my attention threshold: 3 minutes. A 5 minute text is too long. I always try to write things that do not take more than 3 minutes to be read. (this piece is longer than 3 minutes, but it's incredibly interesting, isn’t it?).

You can talk about serious stuff and be funny at the same time. In this case, some little jokes here and there help to lighten the speech and keep the attention high.

Those who are afraid to be funny have a hyperbolic self-concept and take themselves too seriously. That is boring.

Hemingway used to say “Write drunk, edit sober”. It’s good to write and be drunk at the same time but never forget to re-read what you wrote while you were drunk the morning after, when you’re sober.

Of course you don’t have to get drunk to be creative, you just need to read over and over what you just wrote. You need to edit it, always.

Try to get rid of passive forms, subordinate sentences and use as less adverbs as you can. Try to write as a deejay speaks: subject, verb and complement. That’s it, you don’t need anything more.

LeBron James is one of the best basketball players ever not only because he is talented. He trains a lot, every day, many hours a day. A talent must be nurtured and fortified with exercise. Same applies to your writing skills.

An artist has to express himself, it is a drama and an inner strength. This is true as much it’s true that the artist is a human being and being so he has only one, final, unique desire: to be loved. Or recognized at least.

To be successful, to be loved and appreciated, to stir up controversy (there is someone who likes it) are definitely some reasons for which we write. At least it’s a motivation. Writing for not being considered is very romantic but after a while you get tired of it, let’s just admit it. Always remember to write just to express your noble mind and your enlightened point of view. You don’t care what people think of you and your work, don’t you? Sure, I believe you.

But only after applying them at least 100 times.

Martino Pietropoli

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Architect, photographer, illustrator, writer. L’Indice Totale, The Fluxus and I Love Podcasts, co-founder @ RunLovers | ->