I just finished the best job I’ve ever had, which means I’ll have plenty of time to blog and Tweet and get sucked down rabbit holes and stare at my own navel and you’ll be the happy beneficiary of all that.
One thing I’ve decided to do is blog more often — take more of a shoot from the hip approach, which is something I’ve already moved toward in my professional writing. And it’s working out for me.
Part of why I wasn’t blogging that often was the same reason I used to get stuck in the trap of doing multiple drafts, seeking notes — I’m a careful writer. I believe every word counts and should count for more than one thing at a time. I believe there should be a story being told beneath the surface of the story being told. So my blog posts were carefully worked, considered, deliberate. I spent time on them because they were meaningful to me, important.
As I’ve learned in my professional writing, time and care and deliberation don’t fortify your meaning. They threaten to overload it, make it ponderous. I’m trusting now that what’s on the tip of my tongue is safe and okay to share with everyone. I don’t have to think too hard about it. Because if it’s fresh and raw and true, it’s worth sharing.
So I’m going to start firing shit off more. It’ll still be important to me, just faster.
The following I copied from a series of direct messages I sent to a Twitter friend today. I think he’s very talented, and I was trying to encourage him. I think many of you regular readers are very talented, and I want to encourage you. Here it is:
One thing I’ve learned after doing this a while is the key to all this is trying and failing, and doing that a bunch, and not spending too long on any one thing. Work fast, have an idea, put it out, “ship it” as Seth Godin says, get it out in the world, because it’s the getting seen by someone that will get you the job/contract/work, not the laboring over it, perfecting of it. I wasted years thinking that my talent as a writer would get me work. Now I know that talent and hard work is very little of it. It’s about getting access — which is not about who you know necessarily, but about how quickly you can have an idea and get it out in the world so hirers can see it and say — “you.”
It’s really that simple. Have an idea. Get it down in some form. Publish it, produce it, send it out. Get it out in the world. Fucking fast. Then do it again. That’s all you have to do to be successful as a storyteller, gain experience and get heard.
I love you all very much. I want to see you succeed.
It’s that simple. Be honest, all the time. With yourself and with others. Your problems will go away.
We lie because we feel the truth is unacceptable. Whenever you lie, you diminish yourself. You send yourself a signal that you matter less than the feelings of the person you’re lying to. You help neither of you. You create problems.
There are many ways to lie. Every time you tell yourself you have to do something you don’t really want to do, that’s a lie. If you work at a job you hate, that’s a lie. If you’re with a person you don’t love — or if you feel you can’t tell him or her anything about you — that’s a lie. You betray yourself — by acting like you like someone you don’t like, pretending you don’t feel violated when you do, saying you don’t want something that you do, keeping your mouth shut when you have something to say — and when you betray yourself, you chip away at your integrity, your boundaries, your wholeness as a person.
Don’t tell any lies. Start small: don’t tell any lies for an hour. Hold yourself to it, and see how freeing it is. Because all the decisions have been made for you. You don’t have to apologize or feel guilty or feel sorry — you made a pledge to yourself. You’re being honest now. Then do it for an entire day. Then take it from there. What you’ll find is everything else falls into place — because you’re no longer conducting your life as a negotiation of other people’s needs and feelings and opinions but instead as an expression of your own.
Tell the truth in your writing, and your writing problems fall away. Cliche, lagging, dullness, explaining, vagueness, awkwardness, predictability, wandering, flatness, imprecision, thinness, weakness, laxity, jerkiness, wordiness, passivity, exposition, choppiness, boring, talkiness, slowness, undefined, static, tired — these are problems of not telling the truth. The minute you force truth front and center into every moment of your story — every moment of your life — your writing leaps off the page. You don’t have to worry about all that other stuff.
Don’t tell the truth, and it shows up on the page and in your life. Fix it in one area, and you fix it in all areas. Don’t settle for any less than you deserve — full honesty, full integrity, vital boundaries, pages that live.