Here’s everything I wrote to myself about writing in 2016. Word for word from my note book (with a few added headers to break things up a bit).
You can find 2017 here
Also see Random Thoughts On Writing
Authenticity is key
- Your words likely won’t resonate with others unless you are willing to be honest with yourself.
- We tell ourselves a lot of stories. About ourselves, about others, about the world, and about the meaning of life. We tend to fill in the gaps where we lack knowledge and understanding. We are so used to doing it that we often don’t realize we do it. And the gaps are many. We know far less than there is to be known. But we do experience moments of truth when we’re able to see through our own B.S. and be humbled by the mysteriousness and complexity of life. In this state of mind we are most able to resonate with others and help them enter that state of mind also. It’s about cutting through all the noise so we can hear the voice of truth within.
- The closer you can get to universal truths, the more likely your words will resonate with others. Being overly-complicated, overly-explanatory, or intentionally controversial doesn’t often help. At the end of the day, what people want the most is something that will help them breathe easier.
- If you want to have a message that no one can live without you must speak from the heart. From your own weakness and vulnerability. This will make your message more universal. It will be universal when it speaks to a universal truth — something we can all relate to. This makes you a leader, when you are able to put into words what others are thinking and feeling. It’s the one who is brave enough to speak the truth and articulate enough to express it, who will lead.
- What helps you might not help others, but you won’t know unless you share it. All any of us can do is rely on our own experience. And all we can share is our own experience.
- Authenticity cannot be manufactured. A crafted message can still be true, but it’s only authentic when it’s not premeditated. This is what separates the marketer from the writer. The marketer’s first priority is to gain a following to sell products and services to. The writer may want this as well, but the writer’s first priority is to share an important message. If the marketer doesn’t eventually make some money he will go away. But the writer will continue even if she never makes a penny.
Go with the flow
- What you write is for who it’s for. It’s not for you to decide who it’s for. Just write what is on your heart to write and put it out there.
- Write what wants to be written. Don’t take control of it. Even in the editing process only edit what wants to be edited. Most of what we do is motivated by our sub-conscious mind. Yield to the process. Sit in silence and solitude and let the words flow. This is also a good metaphor for life. You don’t have to be in the driver’s seat trying to control the direction of everything. This does’t mean that we sit back and do nothing. It just means that we live in the moment and trust our inner wisdom to guide us from moment to moment. Don’t create a life where you need a lot of detailed plans, check lists, and to-do lists.
- Don’t judge your writing. Don’t try to make it what you think it should be. Let it be what it is and use the same state of mind while editing that you did while writing. This is what resonates the most with others anyway.When you write without judgment — without inner dialogue.
Share your inner wisdom
- If you want to be a better writer, be a wiser person.
- There has to be wisdom in your words, otherwise who wants to read them? Don’t publish something just for the sake of publishing something. Don’t air your grievances and don’t speak confidently about things you know little about. Write what you know is universal — what is common to human experience. And provide the solutions that have worked best for you. Shed some light on the path, provide some sign posts to the right path. Everyone is trying to get to the same place, sometimes we are on the right path, sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we need someone who is on the right path to guide us back onto it. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are looking for, we just know we are looking for something.
- Wisdom can be distilled, and should be distilled. Long-winded essays are not necessary and can be a big waste of time. Keep it short, sharp, and to the point. Wisdom can come in small packages. More words do not necessarily mean more insight.
- There are some things that cannot be written. Some things that cannot be expressed in words. Some things that are just for you.
- Many writers write about what we should do while we are here. Such as how to live, how to get what you want, and how to make a difference. But few write about why we are here. I’ll take that job.
- My brevity, my authenticity, and the depth of my words are what will set me apart from other writers.
- The uniqueness of your message is what counts. Your ability to go where others are not willing or not able to go. Your ability to present things from a different perspective.
- Don’t get caught-up in aesthetics, focus on your message. Be a messenger of light. Be a master of letting go and helping others do the same. Letting go is an act of faith.
- You are not a “writer”. You are a messenger. The message is for you and for all. First for those who are ready to hear and than eventually for the rest. Some people are not ready to hear, and not necessarily from me.
- It’s not necessary to be a new voice. What you write was probably written before. But you can be a voice for this era. You can be the contemporary of those who came before you. Many of whom have been forgotten.
- Are you writing to show off, or to be helpful? It matters. Are we here to massage our egos, or to learn something and share those lessons with one another? All to often success is measured by what we gain for ourselves and how much better we are doing than others.
- Use your words to bring people into your world. Help illuminate the path for others.
- Your world is not “online”. But it will become your world if you allow it to.If you have something to share with the online world, share it, but don’t live there. If you have wisdom to share you are not going to find it by being on the internet all day. It’s your platform, not your world. Your world is at home. With your family. With yourself in silence. Sometimes in books. And sometimes in the community. The internet is a community too, but it’s less personal.
- Don’t waste your time in the comment section. Start working on the next post. This is actually a good metaphor for life also. Don’t waste your time listening to the naysayers, patting yourself on the back, or having debates. Move on to the next thing.
Writing as an art
- A painter doesn’t paint to replace photographs. A painter does not try to show an image of the world exactly how it is. He is showing an image of the world as he sees it. Or is presenting it in a unique way so others see reality in a different way. It’s metaphorical. That’s what art is, it’s metaphor. And that’s what writing is. As Chuang Tzu said “words exist because of meaning. Once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words.”
- Life is mostly an art. Artists create. Artist’s dance. Artists sing. Artists explore. You don’t have to literally dance and sing, but they make great metaphors for living. What I’m writing right now is my version of singing.
- What is art? Art is sharing a part of yourself or your world view with those who need to experience it. Art is unique expression. Expression of something that is not easy to describe. Unique, in that you have a way of helping people see things from a different perspective. Or to open their eyes to it for the first time. Or to give a name to something that others have experienced but were not able to identify.
What more can I give?
- The power of the pen can create opportunities you wouldn’t have if you remained silent. The power of the pen allows you to release ideas into the world that change the way people think. I give people bits and pieces of information to contemplate. But what can I give them in a more comprehensive set of instructions to deal with a specific problem?
- Write more often, write longer, write better.
The purpose of my blog
- What is my blog about? Why the name Living With Confidence? It’s about helping people break free from religious oppression and find peace within themselves. To have a different view of God. One related to grace, rather rules. Also to help people be more accepting of themselves. To live a more meaningful life. To be more optimistic about the future. This is all based on my own experience, my own struggles, and some of the solutions I’ve been able to find. Or that have found me by God’s grace.
- I’m looking for readers who are willing to come on a journey with me. If they are looking for me to say all the right things they are coming to the wrong place. If they are looking for dogma they have come to the wrong place. But I do prefer to keep it positive, in a realistic way. If they are looking for nuggets of truth to help them live with more confidence, they have come to the right place. I will give them my best.
Try not to be divisive
- Use words that transcend religions and ideologies. Speak in a language that’s more universal. Have the guts to tell your story. Share your experience. This is how you’ll resonate with others. Not by being polarizing, but by being inclusive. Not in the sense of trying to appeal to everyone, but in the sense of avoiding language that is sure to be polarizing. Sometimes there’s no way around it. Sometimes you will turn people off. This will happen even if you tell the truth. But chances are if you speak your truth in a thoughtful way you will earn the respect of a lot of people.
How to avoid writer’s block
- Put your thoughts down on paper, whether they are true or not. You can look at it later and decide at that time if what you wrote is true. The main thing is to get it out, so you can look at it. If you don’t, if you insist on only writing what is true, you will likely get writer’s block. And you’ll miss out on the benefit of flushing out some unique thoughts. As you write, you create a flow and one thought leads to another. An untrue thought can lead to a true thought. Sometimes your pencil has a life of its own, let it live!
- There’s lots of stuff in the vault. You just have to keep writing and it will make it’s way to the surface. You have as many thoughts and ideas as there are stars in the universe.
- There’s always more to write, because there’s always more to learn. And there’s always more ways you can say the same thing. Always more ways that various ideas can intersect with one another. The combinations are infinite.
Be a maverick, but make it about helping others
- If you are going to write according to other people’s rules, its going to be watered down. Writing for attention and popularity lacks soul. It’s not something you can be proud of. The same thing happens when you try to turn everything into a masterpiece. Good writing requires you to be a bit of a maverick, ditching conventional wisdom. But you don’t want to be such a maverick that you are willing to say anything. At the end of the day good writing is still about helping the reader, not about airing your grievances.
- If you want to write the truth, you have to write in a way that does not fear reprisal.
- Be willing to write from the heart. Be willing to be a heretic if necessary.You can’t lead if you are afraid to be yourself. The world doesn’t need you to be a writer or a leader if you’re not going to say what needs to be said.You have an insight and a way of articulation that most people don’t have. It’s okay to be controversial sometimes. It means you are saying what others are afraid to say. Be their voice.