Posting this becuase I captured the raw junk of his thread a long time ago, and only recently got around to formatting it. I am not a twittler, and things like this have a way of disappearing. Original here:

1) Steal attention with a strong Headline

A reader’s decision to read the body copy lives or dies on the strength of your headline.

Your goal is to make the reader curious enough to read the first few sentences.

If you got the reader to sentence number two or three, congrats.

2) Hook ‘em or lose ‘em

The headline tickles the reader’s curiosity but the hook is what gets them invested into the key message of your piece.

Like the opening scene of a suspense movie, the hook should pull the reader in.

At this point you should have their full attention.

3) Guide them down a slippery slope

Good writing should read as if you’re sliding down a slippery slope.

Noticed I said guide… NOT push.

You’re taking the reader on a journey from A to B and it should feel effortless and have a natural flow from one sentence to the next.

4) Be direct

Don’t beat around the bush. Your reader has invested their time and attention into reading your work.

Respect his or her time by staying on point and getting your message across in the most direct way possible.

Start by removing all filler words.

5) Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs

Unless you have a reason to be pretentious and verbose, keep your writing as simple as possible.

Use simple every day words and keep things short. This will make your writing more inviting and easier to read.

6) Active voice

Always write in the active voice.

? “the ball was hit by Jake” [Passive]

? “Jake hit the ball” [Active]

Notice how the active voice is more dramatic, easier to see in your mind’s eye and flows better?

7) Have a plan

Writing doesn’t have to be a long winded process of staring at a blank screen for hours.

A simple outline with the BIG IDEA followed by a few bullets with all the key points you want to cover will do wonders for your writing.

8) Have a big idea

This is a copywriting concept but it can apply to many forms of writing, not just sales letters.

I see the big idea as the heart & soul of your overall piece.

As you plan, as you masticate on the message, the big idea should appear like an “ah huh!” moment.

9) Edit

Writing is a three step process.

First you write.

Then you edit.

Then you edit some more.

At some point, what began as a cluster f*ck of thoughts and ideas becomes an important story with a compelling idea.

10) Focus Writing is an intentional form of thinking. It demands your full mental capacity which means it requires deep focus.

My best advice is to write in time blocks and listen to OST or classical music.

I write in 60 min blocks and 15 min breaks.

Find your system.

11) Tell stories

Storytelling is the root of all human communication.

It’s the process through which we share knowledge, wisdom and history and it’s worked for centuries. Modern communication is no different.

My best advice to learn storytelling is to consume good stories and practice by telling stories.

A Twitter account is free. An email list is free. Google docs is free. Talking to strangers is free.

All of these can help develop your storytelling chops. Master the art of storytelling and you’ll be a brilliant writer.

12) Let the rhythm hit ‘em

As my friend @getpaidwrite says “Writing is not about conveying information. Writing is about conveying emotion.”

Good writing makes the reader think but great writing makes the reader feel.

The best writers make the reader feel by injecting drama and rhythm into their writing.

This is an advanced writing technique but my best advice for you is to read rhythmic writing and read your drafts out loud


  • Children’s books (again h/t @getpaidwrite)
  • Poetry
  • Phillip Roth novels

13) Watch your words

Good writing is about making your ideas stick in the reader’s brain. The more specific your words, the stickier your ideas.

Eg. Compare “he slammed the door” vs “he closed the door really hard”

See how the first sentence is more dramatic and easier to visualize than the second sentence?

Pay attention to word choice and replace adverbs with more interesting and specific verbs.

Your writing will improve.

14) Dare to put yourself on the page

Good writers can sell you an idea.

Great writers make you fall in love with both their ideas and their words.

It takes courage to put your personality on the page without ruining the writing.

The only way to get that courage is to put in the reps by writing every day.

I’ve been writing for two decades and it wasn’t until the last year or so did I build up enough confidence to start breaking rules and developing my own “style”.

15) Learn to persuade

Copywriting is the skill of writing with an intent to persuade the reader to take a specific action.

Most people learn this skill to make money but I believe anyone who is serious about developing their writing skill should at least pick up one or to copywriting books and read classic sales letters from guys like David Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins.

Not only will it improve your writing but it will make you a more persuasive individual.

And we could all be more persuasive right?

16) Respect the craft

Jim taught me to respect the craft of writing.

This is a serious skill for serious craftsman.

As such, you should master the craft by doing things like:

  • Studying the greats
  • Reading difficult books
  • Writing (duh)
  • Thinking
  • etc

17) Be a student of human nature

Writing is hard because human thinking is complexed and nuanced. This is why part of being a masterful writer means you must be a lifelong student of human nature.

  • Travel
  • Talk to strangers
  • Read books

18) Read good writing

How can you become a great writer if you don’t know what great writing looks like? I fell in love with words when I got my first library card at age 7. Read everything

  • poetry
  • novels
  • philosophy
  • biographies
  • history
  • etc

All great writers are avid readers. There are no exceptions to this. Fall in love with words and you’ll be well on your way to being a better writer.