A Compulsion


I’m frequently asked “How do I get into writing ?” I answer the question honestly: For those of us that do write, it’s really the other way around. The writing gets into us. It’s a compulsion. Something we have to do. Sure we can reel off a list of motivations; “It’s important to broadcast the news…   “I want people to know the truth…  ” Everyone needs to hear the story…  But when we do write, and we work to have our writing published, it’s the result of dynamic mix of arrogance and compulsion. And it’s intoxicating.

Copy writing, writing copy, sobers you up. We’re not indulging ourselves anymore. We have to think about our client’s needs. We have to think about the reader in depth. It matters that we will be read by our client’s audience.  It matters that we need to be well understood. And it matters that our writing has to have impact and influence. Then we discover we can still get drunk on our efforts. It’s like moving from whiskey to wine. It’s a strange migration. And a confusing balancing act. Where are we, in this message we are promoting?

The next comment I hear is usually something about finding “my voice”. I blame creative writing classes for this question. Too much unnecessary self indulgence. “Will the real writer please stand up”. If you have an opinion, you have a voice. If you love gardening, then you’ll likely have opinions on gardening. Then the task becomes one of organising your opinions into a practical and manageable form, with which your audience can engage.   There… you’re a writer.

But even that formula doesn’t always lead to success or contentment. I’m currently writing a training course on navigation. It has classroom and field elements. And it’s a skill I began to acquire the first time my dad and granddad took me up on to the bog. This endeavour is reminding me that sometimes you can be too close to the material. My solution in this case, is to have someone, a novice navigator, sense-check me, as I develop the material. It’s easy to forget that not everyone was wondering across the hill sides at the age of eight. Standing with your audience takes practice.

I’ll try to keep all of this comprehension uppermost in my thoughts as I post to this blog. I have opinions, I have a voice, and most especially I have that compulsion that drives me to write… I’m expecting that someone will listen…

Short link to this post: dm.ie/pst01

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