STEAL MY BIZARRE WRITING TRICKS FOR HIGH PERFORMING CONTENT

by Sean Kernon
Don’t be afraid to embrace your weirdness!

I never thought being weird would be helpful in my career. But after seeing avalanches of repetitive styles of writing on every platform I use, I’ve come to appreciate the strange stares and comments I got over the years.

I’m weird. I don’t say that to romanticize my individuality, nor to imply there are people tied up in my basement. It’s more a general off-ness — likely from having an eccentric, artsy mom.

Nailed it!


Over the years, I’ve stopped fighting and hiding it and leaned into it. It’s funny how taking unapologetic ownership of who you are causes the jokes to stop. It’s analogous to that famous trespassing advice: just walk in like you own the place and you’ll be fine.

And this is a perfect segue into why you should embrace some unconventional writing tactics. I’ve been blessed with writing success. It’s not something I take for granted — but it wouldn’t have happened without these unusual strategies.

Going on a Walkabout
If you are walking in Tampa, at the right place, at the right time, you might see a goofy, tall blonde dude walking and gesticulating his hands in the air.

You’ll hear the birds chirping, the wind blowing. And as you get closer, you’ll hear me rambling like a crazy person. What you wouldn’t know is that I’m not usually talking to anyone. I’m talking into a recorder on my headset. I’m free riffing on an idea for an article. Monologing on a topic helps me improvise. It forces me to face that wall of mist where I’m out of preconceived ideas. It’s at this wall that some of your best creating happens. Don’t be afraid to live one sentence to the next, unsure of what is to come. Editing and deleting comes later.

I Let Writing Eat Other Writing
I have this long trail of empty drafts that now numbers in the hundreds. It’s like a huge colorful drawer full of mismatched socks.

Many of these “socks” weren’t quite worthy of their own piece. Many eventually become fantastic sections of an article and delivered the nice jab to a one-two content combination. Sometimes I patrol these drafts to see if combining the two, or meeting at a topic in between, would produce something interesting.

This process leads to some of my best ideas and high-performing content. Frankenstein your ideas. Rip out parts and attach them somewhere else. You’ll eventually be screaming, “It’s aliiiiiive.” Or be running for your life.

I Do Things in Reverse
First, I write my main points and intentionally write 1–2 more sections than I’ll actually need. Then I force myself to rank all of them and kill the stragglers. Then I find ways to bridge the connections and segway sections. Then I write the conclusion. Then, I write an introduction that doesn’t match the conclusion — but shakes hands with it.

Remember, simply moving your best sentences to the top of your document is one of the most underappreciated ways of editing. It reinforces a needed, cold-blooded editorial mentality.

A Creativity Exercise I Use
I sometimes pick the most boring topic I can think of and quickly write a few paragraphs to see if I can keep it interesting.

Often, it’s just a boring word I start with. For example, “dirt”. You could write about how it’s the source of all life. How it sits at the top and bottom of the food pyramid. How dirt is a slow-motion ocean for earthworms. How a warrior could throw the dirt in his opponent’s face in a fight. It’s open-ended.

The point is — if you can find a way to make a boring concept interesting, it’ll make the good concepts that much easier to write about. You’ll be more compelling. This is my favorite warm-up exercise.

Play God In Your Bedroom
I sometimes create a character or superhero that is really just an extension of who I am. Whatever your physical/mental strengths and weaknesses are — exaggerate them and build a character around them.

In general — most good characters have an element of the author within them. Any humor I’ve ever written that was funny had some element of truth.

Pick one little quirk or thought, then run with it and don’t be afraid to extrapolate it into another land. You can always trim it down later.

Use a Good Quote as a Soul
Sometimes if I can’t write, I’ll look at really famous short quotes, such as:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

Then I’ll try to write something based on those quotes. Famous quotes are typically anchored in rich ideas. I sometimes tinker with them too out of boredom. It gets interesting. For example, Dr. Seuss’s quote gets kinda funny if you switch just two words.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

vs.

“Don’t smile because it’s over, cry because it happened.”

This highlights how it is only a small nudge that makes something different and more interesting. I live by the 80/20 rule of creativity. Aim to have your concept be 80% familiar, 20% unfamiliar. It is the mission to create the most original book or movie ever made that leads to massive flops. Star Wars was just an amalgamation of several movies, a blend of western, samurai, and sci-fi films.

Parting Words
Being weird is, by definition, a sign that you aren’t a cliche human being. So don’t fret if your thoughts and process are a bit out there.

I shudder when I hear people saying you should just rewrite what popular writers wrote. I’ve seen that tip on Quora, Substack, and Medium. It’s an editorial plague.

Stay unique and embrace your membership in this unholy club of misfits.

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