how to write articles


“Inspiration often emerges from our work; it doesn’t precede our work.” – Madeleine L’Engle (author of A Wrinkle in Time)

A client emailed me to say she was having a hard time making progress on her book.

I sent her the following message – and thought it might have value for you if you’d like to get in that delightful stream-of-conscious state where the words are flowing out of your head so fast your fingers can hardly keep up.

(Name of client) . .. please keep giving yourself props for writing, writing, writing.

E.L. Doctorow was asked what it was like writing a book.

He said, “It’s kind of like driving a car at night: you can only see to the end of your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Keep driving to the end of your headlights.

Keep producing pages and getting your thoughts on paper.

They don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to be right.

Just getting your thoughts down will trigger more – which will trigger more – and before you know it, your book is out of your head and on paper.

THEN – you can go back and start cleaning it up.

Don’t try to think up what you want to say. That keeps you in your head. Blocked. Stymied.

Just get your thoughts written down. That keeps you moving forward. That produces a momentum where your writing takes on a life and pace of its own.

All the best-selling authors at Maui Writers Conference – from Mitch Albom to Frank McCourt to Nicholas Sparks to James Rollins to Jacquelyn Mitchard – agreed.

Ink it when you think it.

Jot the thoughts when they’re hot.

Muse it or you’ll lose it.

If writing is hard, it’s because you’re thinking too hard.

Free up the flow.

How do you do that?

Get out in nature. Go somewhere the sun is shining. Fill yourself with the fresh air of a beautiful day, the serenity of deep, calm water, the eternal beauty of green trees or a sweeping vista of towering mountains. Drink in the quiet but powerful energy of that place.

Now, ask yourself:

“What do I passionately believe?

What do I feel is important?

What have I learned – the hard way – that might have value for others?

Who is my target reader? What is that person’s name? What is their story? Man? Woman? Married? Single? Kids? Working 60 hours a week? Out-of-work? What are they going through? What’s keeping them up at night? What are their doubts, fears, hopes, dreams? What could I share that would keep them going, help them deal with their challenges, put hope in their heart?

Fill your mind with that person. Picture him or her in front of you.

Now, reach out to that individual with your words.

Put your pen to paper – your fingers to keys – reach down into your gut – and start writing to THEM.

Pour out your heart, mind, soul and insights to THEM.

Make writing a outreach to that man or woman.

No fancy language. No struggling how to say it just so.

Write and reach out to them with your words until you see the light go on in their eyes.

Writing is not meant to be an intellectual execise where you are in your head, thinking, “What can I say?”

Writing is meant to be a communication – a bridge between our experience and expertise and our readers. The question is, “What would they benefit from hearing?”

Write to connect.

Write to share what you know, beleive and feel in a way that might add value for anyone reading your words.

When you do that, you free yourself up to to serve.

Writing is simply a way to pour out, “Here’s what I’ve experienced, observed, learned . . . and I’m sharing it with you in the hopes it might be of benefit.”

Write on.

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“The only danger is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezoz, Amazon.com

Several years ago I was selected to be on the closing panel of a conference held over the holidays.

Pulitzer Prize winners, astronauts, Fortune 100 CEO’s and Nobel physicists were on the panel and in the audience, so I was excited about this opportunity.

The challenge? I had two minutes max to share an intriguing epiphany with the group.

The night before the panel, I skipped the New Years’ celebration to work on my remarks. My son Andrew came back to our hotel room after midnight and found me still up.

“Whazzup, Mom?”

“Well, I’ve got something to say, but I know it’s not special.”

“Do what you always tell me to do when my brain’s fried. Get up early in the morning and the ideas will come when you’re fresh.”

“Good advice, Andrew. Thanks.” I set the alarm for 6 am and went to bed.

The next morning, I went in search of some caffeine to kick-start my creativity. I turned around after getting my coffee and bumped into a petite powerhouse with big red glasses. I smiled at her and said, “Happy New Year.”

She looked at me, eyes bright, and said, “Start to finish.”

I was instantly intrigued. “How did you come up with that great phrase?”

She said, “Want to set for a spell and I’ll tell you?”

I had a decision to make. Was I supposed to go back to my room and work on my two minutes – or was Dr. Betty Siegel my two minutes?

Suffice it to say, I went with Betty (literally and figuratively).

That conversation not only yielded a fascinating story for my closing remarks, it was the start of a rewarding friendship with the irrepressible Dr. Betty Siegel, President Emeritus of Kennesaw State University.

Betty is, quite simply, the best story-teller I’ve ever known. She doesn’t tell, she shows. She illustrates each idea with a vividly-told, real-life example so we see what she’s saying.

My time with Betty crystallized the following epiphany which, after 20+ years as a professional speaker and published author, has changed the way I communicate:

People don’t want more information – they want epiphanies.

And people don’t get epiphanies from ideas.

They get epiphanies from vividly-told, real-life examples that cause the lights to go on and the band to play.

As a result of that encounter; I’ve developed a Disruptive Communication Manifesto called The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® that I now use in all my written and spoken communication and recommend to all my consulting clients and audiences.

Sam Horn- The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is a way to make inanimate information come alive and create a two-way connection

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is a way to make inanimate information come alive

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule is an evolutionary way to instantly engage people so they relate what we’re saying to their circumstances and choose to do something differently – not because they have to – because they want to.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is a way to capture and keep people’s valuable attention – from start to finish.
Want to discover exactly how to use Sam Horn’s 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® to make your ideas come alive so you transform information into epiphanies?

Contact us at Sam@SamHorn.com with “Sam Horn’s 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule®” in the subject heading and we’ll be happy to send info on how to order that e-book, tele-seminar, MP3.