26 Ways

A few years ago I came across the writing of John Simmons. At the time I was sort of casually hunting about looking for a decent book to give me some fresh ideas on writing copy for business. When I worked at the University, the management and the administrators about the place wrote deadening, stultifying prose that was teeming with best practice, deliverables, cutting edges. . . the whole effect of course was to create a centre of excellence. Aren’t they everywhere?

I knew that this sort of tripe most definitely wouldn’t do if I was going to work for other people. Although I could write with the best of them, I could feel myself gradually getting mired in this nonsense.

Any books on writing copy seemed to be written more in the form of self help books by American copywriters, full of big bold headlines like ‘How to ensure your email is opened’ or ‘Twelve ways to write a sales letter.’ All good stuff I’m sure, but I didn’t feel the immediate need for a writing recovery programme.

So when I discovered John Simmons work almost by accident, it was a breath of fresh air. I think the first book I read was The Invisible Grail. The opening sentence reads:

‘The basic narrative of this book is the quest for the ‘grail’ that will enable brands to build better relationships with their audiences.’

Hmmm I thought, interesting but not rocket science. As I read on however I became more and more enthused. John Simmons advocated an entirely new way of writing for businesses. Creative. Engaging. Using humour. Poetry. Taking inspiration directly from great works. He says:

‘Words are a creative force: words that write poems, tell jokes, engage people in conversations. Words that tell stories.’

This last sentence in particular intrigued me. Telling stories. Reading The Invisible Grail, I quickly moved onto his other works, We, Me, Them and It and Dark Angels. These books tell the story of how you can write well for any purpose without lapsing into corporate speak. But more interestingly how to bring your work alive be being daring, adventurous and using the influences that are all around you. Anyone who is interested in improving their writing should read them. Now.

I have started his latest work which I am enjoying: ‘Twenty-six ways of looking at a blackberry: How to let writing release the creativity of your brand

If you have the chance and the time, try reading John Simmons. You’ll find at least 26 ways to improve your writing.

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