This isn’t a commandment, since you can obviously do whatever you want. Still, I can’t help but advocate for more selective writing among my likeminded peers.
No one is great at every type of writing. They may at least be decent at every type of writing, but no one absolutely excels at every single type of outlet there is for the written word, and if I’m wrong about that, please guide me to that person so that I can be their lifelong disciple.
My example is that I hate writing novels or even short stories. It’s odd because I love coming up with ideas, settings, and fleshing out characters. I love coming up with unique plot devices that bring a story together and present something completely new and exciting to the reader. When it comes to actually writing out the story, however, I can’t do it. I can’t find the filler details and craft a rich, cohesive story. I’m just too impatient.
I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to ignore this flaw by believing that if I just put more effort into it, I’ll eventually just teach myself to like writing novels. That’s almost as absurd as how that sentence sounded in my head.
A problem we run into as writers is that we can’t help but get excited by our own work. We take pride in our accomplishments because for us, the epitome of who we are is translated best by how we can translate that for other people. When we’re successful, we don’t want to just share it with the world. What makes us different is that we constantly want to get better.
We push ourselves. We experiment. We do whatever it takes to not just master what we’re already good at, but excel at types of writing that don’t come as easy. There is nothing wrong with this at first, but here’s the problem:
when we focus too much on evolving, we stagnate.
It’s counterintuitive, but our pride easily becomes arrogance when we decide that since we are good at one type of writing, we must be “God’s gift to writing,” when really, we’ve just gotten lucky and haven’t really reached the threshold of clarity we believe we’ve reached.
In my case, I can’t write novels because I’m too impatient and I can’t write for the media because I am too biased. This is the reason I chose Public Relations as a career, since I can be as biased as I want with a press release, and writing advertising copy is a challenge I welcome every day.
So, be pickier about what you write. Before you decide to delve into the harrows of a new medium such as journalism, advocate communications, or even a screenplay, figure out what you need to do to hone the craft you already own. A master of everything is a master of nothing and all that.
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3 thoughts on “Be Pickier About What You Write”
Thanks so much for these refreshing thoughts. As a novice with too many media I’d like to try out, I’m still learning what I really like to write. The more I try things I think I’d like, though, the more I’ll zero in on the medium that’s most fulfilling for me. At least, I hope so. 🙂 But it’s good to place some limits to foster creativity–I’ll keep that in mind!
You’re welcome! I can tell you love blogging from Finding Momentum, so I’ll be sure to keep up with you and see what you find out. I hate to discourage experimenting, but it’s true that limiting yourself does bring about creativity. Good luck!
Thanks very much, Jon!