Become a Writer Today newsletter

Why I never use writing templates

Published 13 days ago • 1 min read

Hi Reader,

Spend any time online, and you’ll find dozens of writing templates.

The owners claim these writing templates will save you hours creating content.

The wantrepreneurs behind the latest AI tools get particularly excited about them… probably because they don’t write or create content.

I collected these templates for years.

I’ve a library stuffed full of them.

Templates for social media posts

Blog posts


Book chapters

And even newsletters.

But you know what?

I almost never use them.

Writing templates are a crutch, at best.

They’re more likely to slow you down.

And at worst?

They’ll suck all personality and originality from your writing.

Here’s one storytelling template that went viral a few years ago.

It’s from the storytelling boffins at Pixar:

“Once upon a time, there was______. Every day _______ .One day________. Because of that,______. Until finally ______.”

On first read, this template sounds like a great time saver.

If that template worked for films like Finding Nemo and Toy Story, surely I can use it for my content?

Then, I’ll write a great story that my readers love!

Cue applause and dollars in the bank account.

I tried to turn that storytelling template into useful content.

I wasted hours shoehorning content ideas into that template instead of, you know, writing my first draft.

Try using it, and let me know how long it takes to write something valuable…

Now, don’t get me wrong.

Sometimes, templates have their place for new writers.

Occasionally, I’ll pull up a content template on a coaching call.

I’ll use it to explain how to write a hook or a call-to-action. And I’ll point out the relevant line breaks and formatting tricks.

It’s like a lecturer using a corpse to teach the basics of human anatomy.

But once they understand the network or platform in question, I’ll recommend they put away their writing templates.

And don’t look back.

You see…

The writer who uses templates religiously ends up sounding like everyone else online.

And that’s a surefire way to blend into the crowd rather than getting the engagement you deserve.

If you need help writing online, I’m running a Pro Writers Only workshop in a few days. I’ll show you how to create a month of content in 90 minutes. Register now.

Write on,
Bryan Collins

Become a Writer Today newsletter

Join 25,000 readers for advice about copywriting, content strategy and marketing.

My name is Bryan Collins. I'm a content strategist, copywriter and USA-Today best-selling author.

Read more from Become a Writer Today newsletter

Hi Reader, As part of this series on building a writing business, I’ve covered why email newsletters are non-negotiable for your writing business. And I’ve explained why I’d write on owned and earned platforms. TL;DR: LinkedIn is like Bumble for writers who need clients. Get on it! Money will find you if you grow a healthy email list from LinkedIn or elsewhere. As an example: My email lists have around 25,000 subscribers. I get multiple emails from ConvertKit connecting me with potential...

about 22 hours ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader, This week, I’m explaining how I’d build a writing business if I started over. Yesterday, I wrote about why an email newsletter is the cornerstone of a profitable writing business. Ideally, craft a personality-driven newsletter for an ideal reader. You own platforms like your email list, newsletter, or website. They’re a nice insurance policy against the algo and our future AI overloads. They can take my reach, impressions, and followers, but they’ll never take my email list! I...

2 days ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader, I started my writing business back in 2014. As your internet elder, I’m here to report that 2014 was a simpler time. TikTok hadn’t wrecked the internet, and our attention spans back then with short-form content. Elon spent his days building SolarCity and not trolling the woke left on X. And my inbox wasn’t stuffed full of pitches for AI “developers” hawking a ChatGPT port and overpromising cha-ching affiliate commissions. In 2014… My writing blog was a fun side project. I wrote...

3 days ago • 3 min read
Share this post