photo by eblaser Few years ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the book The Alchemist . Because that time, The Alchemist ...

Paulo Coelho's Top 10 Tips for Writing Well

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the alchemist
photo by eblaser

Few years ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the book
The Alchemist.
Because that time, The Alchemist was one of the bestselling books and increasingly talked about.
I asked him if he already knows it. He answered me, "Yep, I read it in a bus while we're heading to our field trip". Then I asked him if it's good, he answered, "Yes, I can't help to stop reading it so I finished it that day".

Instead of telling you what happened next to that conversation, today I'm going to share you some of remarkable quotes in an interview with the author of that book, which has been translated in more than 70 languages, and known as one of the most prolific modern day writer/novelist, Paulo Coelho.

Then let's see how we can apply it in our writing practice, since we all know how important good writing is to create a compelling content when you do have a blog.


*Note: You can substitute the word "book" to "blog post".
paulo coelho
Paulo Coelho

On Inspiration:

"I procrastinate, check some emails then I start. I write my books very quickly because I cannot stop."

When you're preparing for something to write about, it helps to read some other text forms, for Paulo it's emails, before you start to write. It's like you listen first for other's view and then when you feel inspired enough, start to write with all your heart out.

On Confidence:

"You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have."

Being proud of what you have created is not about "tooting your own horns". Being proud of your work means you created something worthwhile to share. If you don't believe in your own, why others will? Success always come to those who are confident to show their creation to others. Paulo got rejected to his first few attempts for publication. But he didn't stop that's why he is a well-known writer today. Be confident.

On Trust:

"Trust your reader, don't try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination."

In most of his books, Paulo cleverly used figures of speech, especially anecdotes and metaphors. When you read them, you'll feel and learn that there's a valuable lesson within. Paulo knows how to entertain and educate his readers at the same time, letting their imagination run. If you really knows your audience, their problems, fears, their life heroes, your story about to tell will be embraced.

On Expertise:

"You cannot take something out of nothing. When you write a book, you use your experience."

Most of Paulo's books are based from his experience. They are different stories but the plot was rooted in his life's journey. If you think you learned a meaningful lesson about something, write about it. Because most of us learn by reading other's written piece, whether it's a book or a blog post. You can teach someone without being "the expert" but because you learned about it based on your own experience. We're all experts in our own way.

On Critics:

"Writer's want to please their peers they want to be recognized. Forget about this. Who cares? You should care to share your soul and not to please other writers. Who will write a review that nobody is going to read."

There are times, as bloggers we tend to care much from what others will say and forget to write for readers first. In his blog, Paulo Coelho suggest to don't take your critics too seriously. They just doing their job. In blogging terms, if you met a troll in your comment section, don't take them seriously. Always focus your energy to the right people. Because in the end of the day, it's your readers you should care for.

On Note taking:

"If you want to capture ideas, you are lost. You are going to be detached from emotions and forget to live your life. You will be an observer and not a human being living his or her life. Forget note taking, what important remains what is not important goes away."

Note taking doesn't mean to focus on what idea to capture in every moment. Don't force it. Let your unconscious mind work. Live your life. Do something distant from what your writing. Let life teach you. And when you feel something worthy, take note of it then write. If you can make a good point on it, create.

On The Alchemist:

"I wanted to write a story about my life. But I don't know why I chose a shepard. I've never been a shepard. When you write a book in one act, it is not such an effort to write it."

Sometimes, you want to tell a story in life but you're too sensitive to tell it publicly. You hesitate to share it. What we can learn from Paulo is he use a character that portrays his past life journey.
Some bloggers do this. They use pseudonyms instead. But they don't let it detached their personality, in contrast they use it as advantage to freely make their imagination run wild.

On Research:

"If you overload your book with a lot of research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and to your reader. Books are not there to show how intelligent you are. Books are there to show your soul."

Likewise in writing content, if your goal is to sell a product, service or an idea, it helps to tell first a good short story related to what you're selling. You let her imagine the benefits of having what you're selling. Creating a desire to her "left brain" first then present the features or hard facts of what you're trying to sell to satisfy her "right brain".

On Writing:

"I write the book that wants to be written. Behind the first sentence is a thread that takes you to the last."

Whether you're writing a blog post or a book, before you start to write, it helps to know what you want a reader to experience after reading it. Begin in the end in mind. What's the goal of your content? If you know its purpose, each sentence will reflect on it as a whole. If your goal is to entertain or to educate, it helps to have only one point in mind.

On Style:

"Don't try to innovate storytelling, tell a good story and it is magical. I see people trying to work so much in style, finding different ways to tell the same thing. It's like fashion. Style is the dress, but the dress does not dictate what is inside the dress. What counts is the person."

In writing content, it's no question how a good story can enchant a reader. But there are times we focus so much on how to deliver it and the point become obscure. Like what Paulo says, don't fall on this trap. Keep it simple but not simpler. Focus first on the message you want to communicate. It's your gift to your readers. Style is the wrapper that makes your gift special.

How About You?


Do you have other favorite Paulo Coelho quotes or from other great writers? Please share and let's talk at the comment section . . .

Check Paulo Coelho's latest books: Manuscrito encontrado em Accra and Aleph (Vintage International)

Recommended Reading:  8 tips on writing on Paulo Coelho's Blog


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