Writing is one of the most necessary, and at the same time difficult, parts of business. Everyone needs to write, even if it's only emails and texts. If you are trying to convince people of something in your writing you certainly need to be compelling. You need to show yourself as smart and persuasive.
There is no one you can better learn from about writing than the prolific writer of television, film and theater, Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin's trademark rapid-fire dialogue and extended monologues are music to my ears and inspiration for my brain.
Responsible for shows like The West Wing and The Newsroom as well as films like A Few Good Men, The Social Network, Moneyball and most recently Steve Jobs, Sorkin has shown us what it means to connect with words.
Of course, you may not live up to the writing talent of Sorkin (Me neither), but you can learn plenty from the insights he shares below to learn how to step up your writing game. Then you'll be ready the next time you have to ask for that raise, make that sale or win that argument.
1. "Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright."
2. "Our responsibility is to captivate you for however long we've asked for your attention. That said, there is tremendous drama to be gotten from the great, what you would say, heavy issues."
3. "Any time you get two people in a room who disagree about anything, the time of day, there is a scene to be written. That's what I look for."
4. "Trying to guess what the (mass) audience wants and then trying to satisfy that is usually a bad recipe for getting something good."
5. "Everything can be going well, but if I'm not writing, I'm not happy. When I'm writing well, I'm like a different person."
6. "There really isn't a story that you can't tell inside of it. It's very much a clearinghouse for anything that goes on in the world. So you're not at all limited."
7. "It's populated by people who, by and large, have terrific communication skills. Every day is an extraordinary day. For me, it was just a great area for storytelling."
8. "As long as you keep one foot in the real world while the other foot's in a fairy tale, that fairy tale is going to seem kind of attainable."
9. "I consider plot a necessary intrusion on what I really want to do, which is write snappy dialogue."
10. "Writing never comes easy. The difference between Page 2 and Page Nothing is the difference between life and death."
11. "First scenes are super-important to me. I'll spend months and months pacing and climbing the walls trying to come up with the first scene. I drive for hours on the freeway."
12. "I am uncomfortable talking about the things that I write. It seems unseemly to me. I have no problem at all when I see anybody else talking about the same project, but I feel my work should speak for itself."
13. "Don't try to guess what it is people want and give it to them. Don't ask for a show of hands. Try your best to write what you like, what you think your friends would like and what you think your father would like and then cross your fingers... The most valuable thing you have is your own voice. "
14. "I am truly at my happiest not when I am writing an aria for an actor or making a grand political or social point. I am at my happiest when I've figured out a fun way for somebody to slip on a banana peel."
15. "I feel like the better version of myself is on paper... I'd rather have people know me on paper."
16. "The rules of drama are very much separate from the properties of life. I think that's especially true of Shakespeare."
17. "Whether it's 'The West Wing' or anything else, my first thought is always, 'What's a good story?'"
18. "Heroes in drama are people who try hard to reach a virtuous ideal. And whether they succeed or fail really doesn't matter - it's the trying that counts."
19. "I'm very physical. When I'm writing, I'm playing all the parts; I'm saying the lines out loud, and if I get excited about something - which doesn't happen very often when I'm writing, but it's the greatest feeling when it does - I'll be out of the chair and walking around, and if I'm at home, I'll find myself two blocks from my house."
20. "I've never written anything that I haven't wanted to write again. I want to, and still am, writing 'A Few Good Men' again. I didn't know what I was doing then, and I'm still trying to get it right. I would write 'The Social Network' again if they would let me, I'd write 'Moneyball' again. I would write 'The West Wing' again."
21. "I love writing but hate starting. The page is awfully white, and it says, 'You may have fooled some of the people some of the time, but those days are over, giftless. I'm not your agent, and I'm not your mommy; I'm a white piece of paper. You wanna dance with me?' and I really, really don't. I'll go peaceable-like."