How to Become a Writer-Salesman
"Authors must not, like Chinese soldiers, expect to win victories by turning somersets in the air." —Longfellow.
"The untrained writer is absolutely unfamiliar with the art of setting the other man's mind in motion and gradually accelerating momentum by a series of little 'urges' or 'power-strokes.' His methods are raw and crude; he wants to do the thing he has to do all at once.
"Successful writing like successful motoring does not consist in throwing in the gears in the fraction of a second; it gradually engages the gears so that the weight being propelled is gradually taken up and the shock to the mechanism eliminated by the momentum and weight of the car or boat.
"Physical and psychical facts frequently bear a close relationship. A man must be coaxed, not 'punched' into action.
Eye in Lieu of Brain Judgment
"A copious manner of expression gives strength and weight to our ideas, which frequently make impression on the mind as iron does upon solid bodies, rather by repeated strokes than a single blow."—Melmouth.
"The untrained writer falls into the grievous error of supposing that anything long must be verbose. In other words he judges manuscript by the eye in lieu of by the brain. The words necessary to completely express an idea or thought to the other man are the words necessary to that task, be they a hundred or a hundred thousand. On the other hand, our untrained writer is equally apt to fall into the other extreme of supposing that anything short must be 'punchy' or 'snappy.' Again he judges by the eye in lieu of the brain. In both cases he judges wrong.
Why Many Fail
"Though not always called upon to condemn ourselves, it is always safe to suspect ourselves."—Whately. "We now come to the most grievous fault of the untrained writer, comprising nothing more or less than ignorance of his own short-comings and limitations. He is what he is, and being incapable of getting outside of himself, he commits the error of judging others by his own mental standards."
We hope this chapter will give the student an appreciation of a high letter writing standard and a determination never to be satisfied until that standard is reached.
1. An action-getting letter is a first-class salesman on paper.