Blog PostsCreativityStorytelling & WritingWilliam Faulkner on writing from the heart

William Faulkner on writing from the heart

Writing advice from one of our greatest authors.

William Faulkner was one of our greatest writers of all time.

How do you make people care about what you have to say?

This is what the genius novel writer William Faulkner said in his 1950 acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature:

[…] the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars.

He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

All strategic messaging should begin with this simple yet powerful question; is this a matter of the heart? Is this a real story about love, honor, pity, pride, compassion, or sacrifice?

Communication is not primarily about speaking your mind, it’s about finding the right words in your heart.

If the conflict and the stakes are real, we care.

Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash.


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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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