Author, CEO & Founder

Learn More >>

3 (Top Secret Ultra James Bond) Ways to Add More Personality To Your Writing

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

You know that moment when you're nonchalantly cradling your mother's urn in the elevator on your way to your apartment, and suddenly the elevator halts to a stop and 5 other people decide to get on, so you sort of panic because you don't know if they know that you're carrying A DEAD PERSON?

So you quickly make a joke about it in case they DO know, to relieve any awkwardness, because you're good at making jokes in awkward situations, except maybe you shouldn't make a joke about it because if they don't know, now they WILL know, and then you've probably just lost at least 3 invitations to tea. (Not to mention, what kind of a sicko makes jokes about dead mothers in an elevator full of strangers?) *slowly raises hand* *hurriedly tucks it back down to avoid looking like insensitive asshole to whole INTERNET*

But you know why I just told you that story?

Because I easily could have told that same story by saying:

“Last night I held my mother's urn in my arms as I rode the elevator to my apartment, when a group of 5 strangers entered the elevator. I was nervous because I couldn't tell if it was obvious it was an urn in my arms. Maybe they thought it was a vase? I could only hope. I didn't want to lose friends before I had any.”

What's the difference between those two presentations of the same information? (Besides the fact that I've used the word “urn” WAY too much for anyone's liking.)

The difference is simple: style.

The first paragraph is chock full of it. The latter? Not so much. And now let me ask you this: which was more fun to read? Which was more interesting? Which would be more likely to hold your attention?

Alas, it's the power of style in writing. And it can make or break you.

Style is the difference between loved vs. liked, iconic vs. ordinary.

And oftentimes, it's the difference between getting someone's attention…or not. For example, your customer's. Or your client's. Or your next online stalker.

Because let's face it: there's always going to be someone out there doing exactly what you're doing. Therefore, your ONLY weapon in a fierce market full of competition is not being cheaper, or being faster, or producing “higher quality.” Everyone's already doing that, so those things are expectations, not grand selling points. Rather, your only weapon now? Is your personality. (And your businesses' personality. Which is a sentence I didn't really want to write there because I hate when words end in S and you're manhandled into putting an apostrophe after the fact. UGLY.)

Personality humanizes you. It cuts through the bullshit. It makes you seem more authentic (without having to announce that you are, in fact, “authentic.”) It makes people want more of you. And most importantly, IT CONVERTS.

If you've never read the book Personality Not Included, you should stop eating your kale and go download it immediately. The authors make a sexy case for WHY businesses need personality, and how it helps to do all of those fancy things I just listed, like convert more sales.

So then the question becomes: HOW do you add more style to your writing, to your company, to your brand?

The tangibles, dear Watson.


Wrap a handkerchief around your neck and let's go.

Trick #1: When you're writing about your thing, think outside your context/industry.

In what other contexts does this same word/phrase appear, and how can you cleverly snatch it and use it in your current context?  So the first thing that I would do, for example, is think about the topic. Let's say I'm writing about acne and the shittiness that is having a red, inflamed face. What other things are red? What can I compare it to to make a clever statement? So I'm going to immediately go to the world's most useful tool, and type in the word “red.” (Seriously, this will change EVERYTHING.) When I do that, I get a list of common idioms using the word red. Things like: be in the red, cut through red tape, paint the town red, red hot, and see red.

See red. Hmmmm. Yes. I can use that. If I've got a red, acne inflamed face, I will be seeing red, literally, in the mirror, but also seeing red, in the idiomatic sense, because I'll be so darn mad about it.

So maybe I say something like, “You see red–literally–each morning when you're slapped in the face with a new breakout. Also literally. Because in case you've never had the pleasure of  cream-colored pus oozing from swollen holes on your face, acne stings.” <–Grossest example I could think of.

Trick #2: Take any common word, and say what it REALLY is, instead.

For example, I just did this above. Instead of using the word “acne” in the sentence above, I said “cream-colored pus oozing from swollen holes on your face.” Sure, it's a gross example. But it's way more interesting, isn't it. We can do this shit all day long:

I took my dog for a walk.
I took my furry little pee machine for a walk.

I drank the tea.
I drank the bitter juice that can only come from letting dried-up herb flakes float around in scalding water.

I washed my hair.
I washed the strands of dead protein that stick out of my head. (Ahahaha. Also gross.)

I cleaned out my freezer.
I cleaned out the icy box in my kitchen that is so good at keeping my ice cream cold, but so bad at making my skinny jeans fit.

I read a magazine.
I read a paper book chock full of tips about how to make my furry little pee machine pee less, and also ways to style the dead protein that sticks out of my head.

It also works with verbs!

I took my dog for a walk.
I tugged my dog around the neighborhood on a leash and tried to keep him from eating all the squirrels.

I drank the tea.
I did the dainty thing, and blew on the tea before I sipped it through my overly-pursed lips.

I washed my hair.
I squirted shampoo on my head, and dug my fingers in, making scrunching motions until there were so many suds I could make a shampoo mohawk.

I cleaned out my freezer.
I chipped away at the hunks of ice in my freezer, squinting my eyes into tiny slits to avoid death by flying ice shard.

I read a magazine.
I hung upside down off my couch, feasting on the ridiculous sex advice.

Trick #3: Exaggerate everything. In other words, dial in some hyperbole.

Hyperbole is probably the most awkward word in the English language, mostly because it reminds me of bowel movement. I'm not sure why. Let's not get into it. But as a rhetorical device, it's fucking fantastic. Hyperbole is when you use exaggeration for a heightened emotional effect, and no, I did not take that from the online dictionary. (Yes I did.) The best way to illustrate this is to make you read this. READ IT. It's the funniest thing I've read in at least 14,007 years. (See? Hyperbole.)

Are you reading what I'm writing?

No, not literally, because you're definitely reading what I'm writing. But are you READING what I'm WRITING? Picking up what I'm putting down? Are you feeling me? Are you on board? Are you getting ze gisssssst? (Said in my best evil Russian accent.)

There's a lot more where that came from, but you probably didn't mean to accidentally find yourself in English class on a Friday, so I'll calm the fuck down.

The ball's in your baseball field.

Aug 4


How to Make The World Give a Shit About You

Aug 4, 2012

::  When I first started having sex, I worried I wouldn’t be sexy enough–and that I’d be a sore disappointment. ::  When I worked in advertising sales, the first time I ever had to do a nation-wide cold-calling contest…I was so wracked with nerves, I sat at my desk shaking, sipping vodka from a thermos. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


May 31


Why Your Writing Sucks.

May 31, 2013

There’s a lot of horse shit going around the internet these days about “writing from the heart” and eliciting emotion in your readers/audience/customers/landlords. Okay, so not landlords. And you get it. You know it’s important. Because nobody wants to buy from a faceless mime. But what you don’t know is how to actually do it. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


May 17


Poets & Killers Get Rich

May 17, 2016

There are two groups of people: Poets & killers. The poets are running around with their heart placed firmly on their sleeve, hoping that if they do authentic work, it’ll sell itself. The killers, on the other hand, are running around selling everything, none of which is actually authentic, nor genuine, nor useful. (We call […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Nov 16


The Three-Word Trick for Giving Your Content an Insta-Boner (Ooohhh, She Said The B Word!)

Nov 16, 2018

By “insta-boner,” of course I mean something much more polite, like “oomph.” But who uses the word “oomph” these days? It’s completely out of the question. So, I thought I’d go with boner. There we have it, I’ve officially topped myself in the vulgar department. But, hey, this is how you write for the Internet: you […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jan 30


Why Screaming Won’t Get You Heard.

Jan 30, 2014

You know when you’re in a group of people… …and you start telling a story, and that one jerkoff starts talking over you, hollering at the waitress mid-sentence, or answering the phone, or by turning to say something to somebody else, and then all of the sudden you don’t really know if you’re suppose to […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jun 7


A Dead Simple Way to Write a Creative Bio (Without Crying) (Or Wall Punching) (Awkward, You Guys)

Jun 7, 2016

Most people dread introducing themselves in general, but ask someone to introduce themselves in writing, and you’ve just added another unwelcome layer of pressure: Now you’ve got to WRITE WELL ON TOP OF IT. And, you know, say witty things. That you’re committing to paper. While being judged by everyone who reads it. Because isn’t […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

Enter your email address and I’ll send you my advice column every week sharing everything I’ve learned—and so much more.

But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

Privacy Policy Info Here