ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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The Real Trick to Brilliant Writing

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

You know what makes for brilliant writing?

Not what you say, but the way you say it.

The execution. The way you jockey your message onto a page.

There are 354 different ways to tell any story. (Exact figure, give or take a few thousand or so.) You can start at the beginning, or you can start at the end. You can speak from your perspective, or you can speak from theirs. You can write long, detailed sausage-stuffed paragraphs, or thin, wispy little ballet dancer ones.

You can organize events in the order they happened, or organize them in the order you felt them—which may or may not be the same. You can break it up by theme, by lesson, by thought, by emotion. You can present a sliver of truth, or smack us across the face with the greatest one you know.

You can say it loudly or quietly. Abruptly or slowly. You can shock us with one word choice, or pleasure us with another.

The shape of the story we tell is as important as the story itself.

It’s why we’re obsessed with apps like Twitter, where 140 characters is the shape, and why we love the mini stories told via Vine. It’s why the 6 word memoir became such a hit, why everybody loves Medium, and why this visual storytelling piece made me want to jump up and down like a high school cheerleader in a skirt whose delicious football player boyfriend just scored a big, fat touchdown. (My high school was too small to have a football team. BEAR WITH THE FANTASY, OKAY?)

Stories need limitations. You need to pick which 1970's bathroom-colored Tupperware container you want your story to fit into, and then work within those constraints.

Constrain your idea.

Constrain it creatively, constrain it unexpectedly, constrain it loosely, but constrain it.

There’s a reason Elizabeth Gilbert chose to divide Eat, Pray, Love into 108 tales, representing the number of prayer beads of a japa mala. It's why companies like 99 Designs are memorable. It’s why All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was a hit. It’s why books like Thug Kitchen make people go wild. It’s why people love this blog post. (Hint: It’s not because of the story I tell. It’s because of the way it’s told.)

Your story is a product. And the packaging matters.

In a world where everybody’s blabbing about content, content, content…the one thing they forget?

It’s not about how much content you write, but how well you shape the content you do write…into meaning.

May 17

2016

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

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Feb 15

2013

25 Words That Will Make You Seem Bland, Useless, Stale, Dime-a-Dozen, Washed-Up and Otherwise Uninteresting, Unimportant and Not Worth Paying Attention To

Feb 15, 2013

If you want to stand out, feel fresh, appear interesting and get noticed… …then you’ve got to use language that stands out, feels fresh, is interesting and gets noticed. This is common sense, but of course, it’s easier said than done. It’s tempting to use the first words that come to your mind, but usually? Those […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Jul 15

2014

No, I Don’t Want to Be in Your Tribe.

Jul 15, 2014

“No, I don’t want to be in your tribe. I’m not your minion, and I’m not a cow.” -@ateegarden on Twitter. The internet popularized the concept of “finding your tribe,” and while Seth Godin’s book by the same name is right on the money, the term itself has become clichĂ©, stale, trite, boiler plate, and fucking offensive. …As […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Nov 16

2018

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

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May 22

2017

Writing Problems Are Idea Problems In Disguise

May 22, 2017

When your idea isn’t clear, you know what you do? Cover it up with blabber. Adjectives. Flowery words that try to compensate for the fact that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about (yetttt). But good ideas stand on their own. If you’re having trouble writing about it, your writing may not be the […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Jun 7

2016

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

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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.

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