The Subtle Art of Writing like Mark Manson

August 30, 2019 - Reading Time: 4 minutes

There’s much more to glean from Mark Manson, New York Times bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked, than just general advice on life. Much of his popularity can be attributed to his style of writing. Manson has a way of drawing readers in with words and making abstract concepts easy to grasp. His works are also immensely entertaining; before you know it, you’ve read all the articles on his blog.

Here’s what makes his writing so addictive.

1. Storytelling

There’s a reason why every TED Talk begins with the speaker telling a story. It is the same reason Mark Manson starts many of his articles with a story or personal anecdote.

Via Mark Manson

Stories draw readers in immediately and make them interested in what comes next. It keeps them hooked. Personal anecdotes help Manson establish common ground with his readers and narrow the emotional distance between them. It also makes him more relatable to his audience.

2. Be your reader’s friend

The tone of your writing does two things: it builds your brand image and it determines the type of relationship that you have with your readers. Decide on your tone of voice by looking at the nature of the industry you’re in.

Manson is a self-help writer and personal development consultant. People look to him for life advice. Thus, he needs to appear authoritative yet approachable. This, in turn, informs how he writes his books and articles. Manson’s tone of voice is friendly but assertive. His use of colloquial language, as well as a generous amount of curse words, allows him to establish intimacy with his readers. This is why reading his articles may feel akin to having a conversation with a friend. The lesson here isn’t to swear in your writing but to adopt the language in which your audience speaks so as to connect with them. Your tone should also always be consistent with your brand image. For instance, a B2B business should adopt a more formal tone of voice and swearing is a definite no-no.

3. Be passionate

Why do so many readers all over the world trust the words of Mark Manson? The reason is simple: he believes in those words he’s preaching.

Passion is as captivating as it is contagious and it is important to bring that across in your writing. It is the difference between a boring piece and a persuasive one. The good news is, if you’re passionate about the topic you are writing about, it will naturally manifest in your writing. However, it won’t hurt to pay special attention to your sentence structures and the words you use to convey your point. Using words that evoke emotion can make a flat sentence more dynamic.

Here’s an example:

The first sentence makes you feel something while the other leaves much to be desired.

4. Use short, concise sentences

Short sentences are great.

They’re punchy.

They’re easy to read.

They create good flow and rhythm.

Manson uses this technique a lot in his work. Here are some excerpts taken from one of his articles on love:

“One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not.”


“You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.”

Short sentences make reading less daunting and that means your audience is less likely to ignore your content. They also help readers grasp concepts more easily. Writing in short sentences forces a writer to distil the key points of his or her message and to keep things simple for the reader.

5. Be funny

Humour never fails to make things more interesting and to keep people engaged. It also makes things more memorable.

Manson’s brand of humour might not be for everyone but it appeals to his target audience. Likewise, brands should make jokes that fit their audience’s sense of humour; this will help you connect with them. Do your market research before you try anything funny. Do what seems natural for your brand; don’t try to force jokes into your writing.

The next time you need to write copy of your own, keep these five tips in mind. Just remember: your writing style should be always aligned with your brand personality and the context of your message. Be sure to apply these pointers only when it makes sense.




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