I was thinking over why I can write things down on just about anything. Even things I know little about, I’m happy to study quickly, and write something on that topic. Sometimes, I skip the study, talk to an expert on the phone and sit down to write a decent article.
Yes, it’s a skill. Yes, I have been doing it for years. But let’s look beyond that at why so many people can’t or won’t write things down. It probably boils down to commitment. I am willing to commit words to paper, right or wrong. I can take responsibility for the message, for its accuracy, and even for getting it wrong. But that doesn’t happen too often – quite rarely in 25 years.
My conclusion is that most people have commitment issues. Even people who are experts or have been familiar with a subject for some time seem unwilling to commit words to print – in a story, a press release, a paper or an eBook. They prefer to hire me to do it for them. It’s not their lack of time availability either.
Scottish mountaineer William Hutchison Murray states it well:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
That stark truth, I believe, is the difference between myself as a writer and many other people. It’s the reason people hire me. I’m willing to commit to a word, a phrase, a sentence and expose it to the world. Regardless of whether it is work of genius or a crime against the English language, there is a willingness to write it down and move on.
So that’s my advice to others out there. Whether you are writing fiction, press releases, papers, marketing materials or website copy. Be bold. Write it down. Don’t dither over the word choice and grammatical construction or slow yourself down with worries over language, style or substance. Just get it down on paper or on the screen and keep going. Commit to writing the story.
If it’s genuinely bad, you can revise it later. Good writing is usually fast and does not bog itself down in anxiety, seriousness or doubt. Slow, ponderous, careful writing often comes across that way.
Let your fingers fly across the keyboard. Create some text out of nothing and decide its going to be good. Commit yourself to finishing it in a short period of time. Once done, give yourself a well done. You’d be surprised how easy it can be when you do so.