The is the latest post in my perpetually ongoing series entitled: Reflections On Being A Writer in The 21st Century. At some point soon I will have enough of these to make an ebook. A lot of these posts are on LinkedIn, but my hope is to transfer them all here, in as William F. Buckley was fond of saying, ‘the fullness of time’.
“It’s the road I ride
It’s a one night stand
Another broken promise
In this Promised Land
It’s a mile too far
It’s a long way to go
But it’s the road I ride
And it’s all I know”
If I go to bed before 1 AM, the chances of me getting a good night’s sleep are slim to none. Knowing that this is a true and empirically tested thing, I simply avoid it and use the hours between about 10:30 and 1:00 to just write. Been that way all my adult life.
Sometimes I have something in particular to write about, but tonight I don’t. I just open a Pages file and start. Something usually comes to me rather quickly.
I read somewhere a while ago that Francis Ford Coppola writes this way a lot. He simply sits down and starts writing just to see what it will turn into. Sometimes it’s a pile of shit. Other times it’s Apocalypse Now.
I have always liked the idea of free form writing, although I’m not really sure you could make much of an argument for its actual existence. The writer’s brain is always thinking about something. Even of it’s something as simple as talking about the process of free form writing.
Delusion…It Can Happen To The Best Of Us
Over the past couple of months, my brain had become cluttered up with ideas. I used to write a lot on LinkedIn. And by that I mean I used to write a lot about it. I was one of the ‘big bitches’ who spent a lot of time and intellectual capital writing about what a bullshit place it had become for writers. But only because that was true.
I had deluded myself into thinking that if I hit the right note, that my voice, along with the hundreds of others who were doing the same thing, would actually make an impression of LI management. Delusion is the operative word.
You can only do that for so long and then your brain becomes so full of angst and anger that you start wondering how you ever got sucked into writing about stuff you can’t do anything about. Then life gets to be a lot less fun.
But fortunately, for all all but the hopelessly obsessed, you actually reach a point of saturation. You just get tired of being angry all the time. Mainly because it’s a useless and pointless kind of anger. And also because you created the anger, you naturally have to be the one to stop it.
So I did. I wrote a final post announcing that I was taking a leave of absence from writing on LinkedIn. And after a couple of false starts, I really think I have effectively begun the process of weaning myself off it.
I won’t get into all the reasons for my decision to leave LinkedIn. Mostly because it’s all about stuff I can’t do anything about anyway, so what’s the point? Let’s just call it a phase I passed throughout successfully, because I came out with my brain more or less intact.
The Beautiful Addiction
People don’t think about this very much, but social media is as addictive as any drug you can name. The addiction comes from the very visceral need to connect with people and, for writers, the need to know that somebody out there is reading this stuff besides you.
The paradox here is that though it is an addiction, a lot of people, especially writers, consider it more a passion.
I have been writing blogs for about 18 years now. The process of doing this has more or less become second nature to me as a writer. I have to write a lot of other stuff besides these posts, because people pay me to do that. But I have always been able to compartmentalize and keep my personal blogging separate from my copy and content writing.
For me, it doesn’t matter what I’m writing, I still find the process fascinating.
This past week I have been writing a trade show brochure, landing page, web site content and 2 rather large case studies for a new client in the data processing and Business Intelligence area. I had just as much fun writing that as I am having writing this.
What these people do is fascinating to me in terms of their perspective on the business world, and how great business intelligence insights, gained though the processing and management of data, really can change the way a company does business or manages its internal processes and most often that change is a change for the better.
Writing Is The Great Teacher
Writers are perpetual students. The years I have spent in advertising have taught me a great deal about how many different kinds of businesses work. This has added immeasurably to my ability to create posts that are useful to people who are trying to either be better writers or manage their businesses more effectively.
But I don’t write that stuff between 11 PM and 1 AM. That time is loosely reserved for more philosophical things expressed in a free form manner.
But despite that, there is still one rule that never changes, regardless of the form I am working in, and that rule is simple: Stop Writing When You’re Done.
Jim Murray is the proprietor, CEO and Creative Director of Onwords & Upwords, a creative consultancy in Toronto.
Jim works primarily with small businesses, helping them develop effective business building communications on and off line. He has an amazing network of people who do the stuff he doesn’t do, but have the same helping attitude.
Jim also works with marketing and communication consultants, is a very prolific blogger, half decent photographer and relatively sane human being.
If you have a marketing or communications challenge you would
like to discuss, (no obligation), there are three ways you can contact me:
Direct Line: 416 463-3475
If you want to check me out thoroughly…
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