The Talk We Talk

I’ve recently discovered a great website for writers, which I highly recommend – The Write Life.  The articles posted apply to all kinds of writers out there – the freelancers, the bloggers, the novelist, the short story writer, and the journalist.  I recently saw a great article by a blogger called Joel Runyon about the excuses, or “lies” we tell ourselves that can keep us from writing.  They made me think, and I have to admit that I am guilty of every one.  But the good news is, I know exactly why!  [Translation: I can back up the excuse with more excuses!]

1.  “I have nothing to say.”  Okay, I get what Runyon’s saying here.  “When you’re out with people, you’re able to have a conversation,” but let’s face it, it’s easier to talk through the interplay of conversation than it is to simply put your thoughts out there in essay form.  Besides, often what we talk about with friends depends on the circumstances at the time, and is usually pretty innocuous or extremely personalized.  Of course, Runyon goes on to ask, about having an “opinion on anything”, and “domain knowledge on anything”.  Well, yes.  I, like most of the world, have an opinion on most things, but focusing too much on my own opinion leads me to thinking, really who cares?  Well, I guess anyone reading this does, so fine.   Got me there Runyon!  But domain knowledge – No, I don’t have complete domain knowledge about anything.  I know a lot about some things, but probably less than others.  I feel like I have to be accurate and informative, and that requires research.  Case in point – How often have I referenced outside sources just in these past four posts?  Then there is his question: “You don’t get excited about anything?” And for me, that’s probably the biggest problem.  I get excited about lots of things.  I have so many interests that I don’t know what to write about.

2.  “No one will listen to me.” Sure, they can’t listen to something that’s never said.  And you never know who is going to listen until you put something out there.  But it’s hard not to get discouraged when you realize your mom and dad are the only ones that ever read your posts.  That discouragement has led me to abandon other “blogging attempts”.

3.  “I’m not interesting.”  I have the benefit of being fairly self-centered, so I don’t think I’ve ever said this.  I worry more about my subject being interesting, and my being able to write about it provocatively.  Because I feel that if I can’t write about it provocatively, than I’m not a very good writer.

4. “I can’t make money writing.”  Sure this idea has popped into my head, and I do sometimes feel guilty because I’m writing instead of looking for a job.  And sure, I would love to make money writing.  Wouldn’t we all?  But that’s not why I do it.  Especially here.  This is more about exposure, than money.

5.  “I can’t compete with CNN.”  This one threw me for a loop.  I’m not a journalist, so why would I compete with CNN.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized, of course, if I write about world news, I’m competing with CNN.  And the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, MSNBC, FoxNews, and anyone else who writes about world news.  We are competing with everyone who writes what we do.  Here, I’m competing with other bloggers.  As a novelist, I’m competing with other novelists.  And when I feel comfortable enough with the format to begin writing my screenplay, I’ll be competing with other screenwriters.  This is always true.  You just have to believe that you’re good enough to be read alongside them.

I have, at one time or another, said all of these things, as I’m sure some of you have.  And I have abandoned other blogs, articles, essay contests, and open submission requests because of it.  For 10 years, I let these excuses talk me out of doing something I love to do.  But I am realizing now that I have to overcome my fears and doubts, if I truly want to accomplish my goals.  The only thing that matters, is that I can take pride in my work.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Talk We Talk

  1. Jenn, I think a lot of these points are less “lies we tell ourselves” than non sequiturs we convince ourselves are important.
    1) Having nothing to say is really saying, “I don’t know what to say that gets me to my goal.” And most of us don’t have such a concrete goal that we can draw a line straight to it, or know that we’ll want to be there when we arrive. Just write until you get there. You’ll be surprised when you see where “there” is. There might be pizza.
    2) Knowing that out of 7 billion people no one is listening is a great relief. It takes all the pressure off, and allow you to write what matters to you. Also, your mom and dad are very influential, so your words can last far beyond the written page. (But not the internet. Nothing can last beyond the internet. The internet is eternal. After the monkey apocalypse, chimpanzees will spend a lot of time surfing the web.)
    3) It’s very difficult to be interesting if you only think thoughts that everyone else has already thought. Sadly, your thoughts are exactly the same as mine and everyone else’s. No, wait… (Besides, being provocative is easy. I see you provoke people all the time.) 🙂
    4) This is the king of non sequiturs. The best way to make money writing is to go back in time and write the Harry Potter books before J.K. Rowling does. Or at least go far enough back to write the Twilight and/or Hunger Games series. (Disclaimer: Building a time travel device is very labor-intensive, and doesn’t leave much time for writing.)
    5) I can’t help you here. I do compete with CNN. I provide more in-depth coverage of telepathic monkeys with robot arms, space dinosaurs, and pink astronomical objects than any cable outlet. But competition is not about winning. It’s about participation. Ask any public school child.

    Keep up the good work.

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