Sunday, July 13, 2014

On Writing with Conviction

Writing well is a skill that requires study and practice. By no measure am I an expert on writing, but I'd like to think I've got a decent background in the field; I earned my BA in English (specifically language, writing, and rhetoric) from the University of Maryland, College Park, I've worked as a copy editor for a financial firm, and I spent time as a technical writer... oh about fifteen years ago. And the modest frequency with which I post here at the #eager0, along with some side work at Thwack and the short-form writing at Bugs In My Back Yard, provides me with lots of practice. I think I'm on my way; I'll let you know in thirty years.

Part of the craft of writing is having the audacity to subject your thoughts and opinions to public (and, as is often the case, anonymous) scrutiny. This is by no means an easy task. It's the pen-and-ink (anachronistic, sure, but okay because nostalgic) equivalent to stage fright. And to avoid this scrutiny, we employ all sorts of trickery. We're vague, but disguise it through humor, esoteric intimation, and sarcasm (a wit we're meant to grown out of, not into). We wiggle out of declarations with woulds, coulds, and shoulds. And sometimes, we even resort to... snark.

I recently re-discovered this poem by Taylor Mali. It's titled "Totally like whatever, you know?" and it's required viewing / reading / listening for, you know, like, everyone?

These words should inspire you to write with that same conviction. Again, it's not an easy task. And it's a lesson I'm re-learning on a regular basis; no need to scour the #eager0 for posts that violate this rule.

Have the audacity to make clear, concise statements. Play loud, and make big mistakes. Put yourself out there.

Oh, and if you're looking for better advice from a better writer, check out my friend Oliver Gray's post at Literature & Libation. I blame him for making me work on my writing these days.