In a short piece posted earlier this morning, Hunter Walk talked about writing, and how the need to be right is many times what stops people from putting their thoughts out there. Whereas some may seek to “write the definitive post” on a topic as Walk puts it, his advice, rather, is to pick something you’re fairly confident you know about and “riff a bit.” This is directly in line with my thinking when it comes to putting out something with my name on it; do the best I can writing the piece, make sure all basic spelling and grammar is correct, and then see what comes back my way in terms of commentary or questions.
I would, though, dare to take Walk’s advice one step further: if you want to start writing, don’t just write blog posts—write anything. Write news articles to learn how to instigate an investigative process, write essays to learn how to really flesh out an argument, write poetry to better understand the concepts of metaphors and literary devices, do interviews to learn how to speak to people and translate it into compelling writing. Not all of these things will pan out (and you may not enjoy all of them, or even any of them), but in sharpening your teeth on different writing styles, you lear how to mix and match to make your own pieces (blog posts, for example) more powerful.
As you descend into learning each new style in a hands-on way, the need to be right will fade some, and what you come away with is a more comprehensive understanding of presenting and/or winning an argument. The ironic side-effect of this (in my experience as a music journalist) is that people suddenly begin to think of you as a voice to take seriously. Go figure: stop trying to be the definitive voice, and somehow you get closer than you ever were when you were trying!
Of course, there’s an even more basic reason to write (and very much a reason I do): it helps the mind to work through new concepts and move the creative process along. Don’t worry too much about being right—just write.
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