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 31

2013

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

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Mar 4

2016

How to Stop Writing With a Stick Up Your Ass

Mar 4, 2016

One of the things I get asked about forty hundred times a day (besides whether or not I know there’s a hair sprouting from my chin) is this: Where’s the line between personality and unprofessional? Because apparently I’m known for walking the line between mental inspiration and mental institution—as every writer worth their weight should. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Jan 11

2013

How to Sell Anything In One Paragraph Or Less

Jan 11, 2013

What if I told you I could sell anything in one paragraph or less? (Stop glancing skeptically at the screen. I can see up your nose.) You know what kind of paragraph I’m talking about–the sorely neglected, overlooked and undervalued product description. *cue tambourine and this song* Product descriptions have the power to make or […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Aug 4

2012

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

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Dec 14

2012

Take Your Lazy Sentences And Piss Off. Politely.

Dec 14, 2012

Lazy sentences BOTHER ME. They bother me because it’s not really the sentence being lazy–it’s the person who wrote it. And if that person happens to be a business owner who’s trying to convince me to spend my hard-earned, sweat-soaked, time-drenched money with them? They better demonstrate that they actually WANT MY BUSINESS. Want it […]

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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