Lessons in Writing Memorable Content from the Master of Wit, Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was unquestionably one of the most unique personalities of the nineteenth century. The author of dozens of plays, essays, novels, and other works, his combination of wit and individuality has made him world-famous for his clever phrases and funny insights.

I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.
Oscar Wilde

Wilde is a particularly useful case study for modern bloggers, as his work tended to be short and memorable, two very important things in the current media landscape. If he were alive today, we can easily imagine him using social media and email newsletters to build his own audience.

In this post, we’ll go through four quotes from Wilde and see how to apply their lessons to your email newsletters. Let’s get started!

Good writing is good writing, regardless of the content

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.
Oscar Wilde

You should always think of writing as a craft. Whether you’re writing about shoes, flowers, email marketing, or artificial intelligence, good writing is good writing. You may be a world-class authority on your topic, but if your content is riddled with poor sentence structure, spelling errors, and awkward word choices, no one will take you seriously.

Want to brush up on your writing skills? Check out our blog posts on Writing Like a Journalist and Writing the First Word of a Blog Post.


Use your unique voice

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde

Chances are, there is already someone on the Internet doing the same exact thing you are. And chances are, they have more money, time, and resources than you. If you try to copy your bigger competitors, you will probably fail.

However, this is no reason to panic. After all, they don’t have you, the individual, writing their blog posts. This is especially true when it comes to smaller websites and businesses (as most MailPoet users are.) While you may not have the resources of a bigger company, you have something they don’t – flexibility and individuality. The blogging teams of bigger companies are often composed of groups and teams – and nothing kills unique, interesting content faster than a writing committee focused on pleasing their audience.

While your audience should certainly be front and center, there is a lot to be said for keeping some focus on your passions, as well. We can all discern which authors are truly interested in what they are writing about and which ones are just creating content to “check a box” in their marketing strategy (I don’t even need to ask which type we are all more likely to be drawn to.)
Michele Linn, Content Marketing Institute

Indeed, here at MailPoet, we ourselves are a small business, with only 10 team members. Our secret weapon is that we’re unique. We win against the big guys because we don’t try to beat them at their own game. Instead, we bring our own unique vision to our products. Needless to say, it’s worked out pretty well for us.

Little Boat, Big Boat

Don’t try to copy the successful players in your industry. Instead, try to be as unique as possible. Let your individuality shine through in every post and newsletter. Need some help with that? Check out our recent post on being authentic.

Have something to say (and say it)

There are no more than two rules for writing: having something to say, and saying it.
Oscar Wilde

This may seem obvious, but surprisingly, it’s not. Too many bloggers publish posts when frankly, they shouldn’t be. Here on the MailPoet blog, we subscribe to the quality over quantity philosophy; while we only publish a few posts per month, they’re quite long, well-researched, and (hopefully) entertaining to read. We don’t aim publish repetitive, half-baked posts simply to fill a daily or weekly publishing quota.

Is the content you are creating and distributing for your customers any different than anything else out there?
Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

The flip side of this is that if you have something to say, you’ve got to say it! It doesn’t matter how cool your ideas are if you never put pencil to paper and write them down.

Read (even when you don’t have to!)

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
Oscar Wilde

Let’s face it: reading about email marketing all day can be boring. Reading post after post on the same tired topics can kill our desire to read anything at all. No wonder picture books are becoming popular again!

In fact, this is one of the reasons why we try to highlight writers like Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Ernest Hemingway on the MailPoet blog. After all, the wider your range of influences, the more wide-ranging your content will be.

Hemingway on D-Day

Live an interesting life and your writing will be interesting

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
Oscar Wilde

Finally, let’s talk about life away from the computer screen. It’s important to remember that ultimately, most people read your posts for their content, not their fancy formatting or eloquent word choices (unless you write a blog about writing!)

At the end of the day, (interesting) content is king. And what’s the best way to have a steady stream of interesting content? By living an interesting life, of course.

If you’re a florist, try to find exotic flowers in the wild (and take pictures of them for your newsletter!) If your newsletter is about classic cars, try to visit rare car shows as often as you can.

Are you an Oscar Wilde fan? How has his work affected your blogging strategy? Let us know in the comments!