Self-publishing pioneer Dan Poynter says, “If you wait to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.”
Agreed. That’s why I’m sending props to Cliff Kurtzman for an incredibly evocative post, “I Go to the Hills, when my Heart is Lonely,” and I’m not just saying this because he was kind enough to mention me.
I just got off the phone from our 2nd session of “Write Well, Write Fast, Write Now” for Learning Strategies and featured Cliff’s post to our hundreds of participants because it is a shining example of doing what I call “Comment on What’s Current.”
We’ve encouraged participants to submit questions, and many center around, “How can I write when I’m so busy?” & “How can I come up with interesting things to say?”
I told the group about a recent epiphany I’ve had.
For years, my morning ritual has been to read the Washington Post and USA TODAY . I tear out intriguing articles, circle inspiring quotes and star interesting paragraphs and then put them aside to write about when I have “more time.”
I never have “more time.”
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I have BAGS of articles stuffed in closets and stashed in a corner that I’ll blog about “someday.”
As the saying goes, someday is the busiest day of the week – and it never comes.
So, I’ve started writing in the moment. When I read or see something that POPS out, that is intriguing, relevant to my work and potentially useful to readers, I take 10-15 minutes to write about it THEN.
Like I’m doing now. Because when you write about something you’ve just observed, the thoughts flow out of your head so fast your fingers can hardly keep up.
Writing is no longer work. It’s fun, fresh, and what you want to say gets written in a fraction of the time it would take if you re-visit this, cold, weeks/months later.
Furthermore, writing is no longer an intellectual exercise where you’re struggling to think stuff up. You’re simply getting down what’s in your head, what wants to be said.
Look at what Cliff did. He watched the Academy Awards and was moved by what he saw. Instead of keeping his thoughts to himself (which helps no one), he shared his insights about what was special about that evening.
By “commenting on a current event” and hash-tagging and hyper-linking names that were top of mind for millions, he jumped on their bandwagon of buzz.
That was strategic, smart and must be oh-so-satisfying because Cliff’s post has been “liked,” shared, forwarded, commented on and (deservedly so) gone viral.
Read his “Did you know that Lady Gaga practiced EVERY DAY FOR 6 MONTHS” to prepare for her “Sound of Music” medley? And it was worth it because she knew that, done well, it could pivot her public perception/persona and position her for a new career. Isn’t that a thought-provoking insight?
Notice how Cliff “hooks and hinges” his observations about Moore and Lady Gaga into his “Domino Principle” message so his post is on-topic and on-brand.
I could continue with all that Cliff did RIGHT with this post (the eye-catching photos, citing of sources, universally applicable revelations) … but the point I hope to make is this:
- Do you feel you’re “too busy” to write?
- Do you sometimes have a hard time thinking stuff up?
- Do you have articles you’ve set aside you’re going to get to “someday?”
- Do you plan to write a book when you have “more time?”
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, there’s a solution.
From now on, when something POPS out that gets your attention that is intriguing, relevant to your topic/business/project, and could be useful to others ….
TAKE 10-15 minutes to capture your observations about it IN THE MOMENT.
Don’t put it aside and think you’ll write about it “later.” Jot those thoughts while they’re hot. Post them on your Facebook page almost immediately.
DON’T think you have to put them in a blog or article. For many people, that’s a daunting, time-consuming task that becomes a barrier to entry.
Don’t think your posts have to be perfect. Better done than perfect. Better out in the world than in your head.
And don’t think that writing about what’s current and on-brand takes you away from your work. If you’re a thought leader, business owner or topic expert, doing this IS your work because it’s contributing to your BODY OF WORK.
If you do this, you’ll be a WRITER, not a WAITER. And that’s saying something.