1. Write what you know about, run into, have a passion for and obsess over. Do this, and I promise you two things: (1) You will never run out of material, (2) Writing will be easy. Otherwise your work is going to be boring to write and laborious to read. Zoinks! What percentage of your writing is infused with your passion?
2. Writer’s Block is a lie. Doesn’t exist. It’s nothing by comfy little excuse touted by undisciplined, mediocre writers who sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Here’s the reality: Writing is an extension of thinking. So, next time you experience “Writer’s Block,” recognize that what you’re really experiencing is Thinker’s Block.
Lesson learned: If you want to write more, think more. If you want to write better, think better. People who bitch about Writer’s Block are either: (1) lazy, (2) boring, (3) stupid, or (4) terrible listeners. Remember: Creativity is nothing but active listening. If you can’t find anything to write about, you’re not a writer. Period. What did you write today?
3. Writing is a little like eating. During my brother’s wedding, my parents’ friend Ed told me, “Scott, eventually you get to a point when it’s not about the food, but who’s at the table.”
Great point. And similarly, the more you learn to trust your inner voice, you care less about grammar, punctuation and structure, and the more you care about being courageous enough slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your writing is good – it matters if your writing is your truth. It doesn’t matter if your writing is popular – it matters if your writing disturbs people into action.
Look, you’re not going to win a Pulitzer. Let go of the need to be “good at writing.” Instead, invest your time and energy in making your pen a lightning rod for channeling honesty. People will notice. Does your writing have to be good?
4. Writing is like camping. Because you never put your ideas back the same way you found them. Your goal is to train yourself to pick up a thought or idea and then play with it until it's bigger, better, sharper, and more useful. How much better will the literary campsite be when you’re done with it?
5. Writing makes everything you do BETTER and EASIER. Go back and read that sentence four more times. It changed my life, it changed my clients’ lives, and it will change your life, as long as you’re willing to accept it. Because that’s not an opinion. That is a truth.
Writing helps you make sense of the changes in your life. Writing helps people adopt a piece of you into their world. With the exception of Bikram Yoga, I can’t think of anything healthier in the world that writing. What does writing do for you?
6. Writing stuff down isn’t enough. You know my mantra: “If you don’t write it down, it never happened.” And that may be true. And writing (still) may be the basis of all wealth. But there’s more to it than that.
Writing is about three things: Content Generation, Content Management and Content Delivery. And if you don’t have a customized system for plucking, organizing and deploying your ideas, you lose.
As George Carlin – the master of Content Management – once said, “Good ideas don’t mean anything if you can’t find them again.” Remember: Your brain is a moron. Do you have a paper memory?
7. Yes, it IS possible to have too many ideas. Ironically, this becomes a barrier to creativity because eventually, you won’t be able to keep anything in your head straight. Sure, resisting the urge to evaluate, appraise and assign value to every idea is important during the initial creative process.
In the beginning stages, the goal is to prevent Premature Cognitive Commitment, thus keeping your options open. Eventually, however, there comes a point in the idea process where you’ve got to stop creating and start judging. Do you have too many ideas?
8. Your everyday life is what people relate to. Finally, the more specific you are, the more relatable you are. Take Dave Berry, for example. Back in his heyday of writing a syndicated humor column, his funniest pieces were the ones about mundane events like his kids, his house and his hometown.
Here’s a one-liner I just randomly Googled that proves this point: “My teenage son, Rob, says the only time he ever wraps a gift is, quote, ‘if it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the person opens it.’”
Ha! Love it. And nobody else in the world could be so funny talking about something so boring. Think it’s a coincidence Dave won a Pulitzer? Think it’s a coincidence Dave wrote twenty bestsellers? Think it’s a coincidence Dave gets $50,000 per keynote speech? Nope. How will you leverage the ordinary in your writing to make history?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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Friday, August 07, 2009
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