Holly Gonzalez Marketing & Copywriting

Smart, sophisticated copy that sells.

Tag Archives: writing

Go Play Project: Day 14 | Book love


go play project, 30 days of collage, creativity challenge, bird by bird, books, Anne Lamott, Holly Gonzalez

Go Play Project – Day 14

For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. 

–Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Go Play Project: Day 10 | Bird by Bird

go play project, 30 days of collage, creativity challenge, bird by bird, Anne Lamott, Holly Gonzalez

Go Play Project – Day 10

For my money, you won’t find a better book on writing than Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. My well-worn copy has been read and re-read countless times. She writes about the need for shitty first drafts, that perfectionism is the enemy of the people, and that if you want to turn someone in real life into a character in your fiction (and avoid getting sued for libel), the “best advice I can give you is to give him a teenie little penis so he will be less likely to come forth.”

As for today’s collage, it’s inspired by this passage, from which her book takes its title:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day… he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”



I Write Like…

In case you missed this meme, it’s great fun. I Write Like is a website that lets you paste in an excerpt of your writing, and uses an algorithm to tell you which author’s writing yours most resembles. It’s fascinating stuff. Who doesn’t want to be told they write like David Foster Wallace or Kurt Vonnegut? Although some folks are mighty disappointed to learn that their choice of words mostly closely mirrored those of Stephanie Meyer and Dan Brown. And, imagine Margaret Atwood’s surprise when she pasted in a sample of her own writing, only to find she writes like… Stephen King. Interestingly, I plugged in a few excerpts from my “I get paid to write this” copy, and turned up H.P. Lovecraft. When I used a few random posts from this blog, it spit out Douglas Adams. Nice to know I’m part of the society of weird fiction writers. I couldn’t be happier. Just for kicks, I analyzed the lyrics to the Banana Splits theme song. Apparently, Cory Doctorow—science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger—could have written this gem!

Don’t Forget the Serpent

Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland was the legendary Vogue editor who shaped fashion history like no one else.  Influential, opinionated and original, she was the essence of fabulous. Visionaire recently published a series of her staff memos. Cryptic, brilliant, like little haiku jewels, these staff memos were dictated to her assistant from Mrs. Vreeland’s bathroom (how’s that for multi-tasking?). Some of my favorites:

The serpent should be on all fingers and all wrists and all everywhere…
The serpent is the motif of the hour in jewelry…

Nothing gives the luxury of pearls. Please keep them in mind.

Let’s promote grey.
For everything.

So often clients want to cram copy with every product feature, selling point and offer detail. If you ever wanted evidence that spare, elegant language trumps bloated, superlative-laden writing, just read Mrs. Vreeland’s memos.

At the end of the day


I, personally think that at the end of the day what really matters is that you give 110%. With all due respect, it’s not rocket science to come up with writing that’s fresh and original, or at the very least, fairly unique. Absolutely, it’s a nightmare to slog through writing that’s cliché-laden, and if you’ve managed to read this far, I’m amazed.

Last year, researchers at Oxford University compiled a list of the top ten annoying phrases (I crammed in seven of ‘em in the paragraph above) “At the end of the day” topped the list, and while it’s a worthy contender, I’ve got my own list of phrases that push me over the edge. Some are business jargon, some are trendy, and some are just plain wrong. Here you go:

1.     A myriad of (It’s just “myriad,” I promise.)

2.     My bad (Please, let’s retire this one.)

3.     Basically (as in, “Basically, it doesn’t add anything to a sentence.”)

4.     Hunker down (I come from the land of hurricanes, and this one gives me the willies.)

5.     Think out of the box (I’m not in a box)

6.     Are we on the same page? (… or in a book)

7.     Touch base (… or on a baseball diamond)

8.     Paradigm shift (Cringe-inducing marketing-speak)

9.     Synergy (Double cringe)

10. When all is said and done (then why are you still talking?)