I have read the blogs for this month on writing tips, and I feel like my mental inbox is overloaded. Like Tracy, I wonder what I can add to the list from my inadequate experience. Does anyone else feel like me, that technology has grown faster than I have, leaving me behind?
I marvel at the ability of many of you to use so much online networking, and yet still have time to write! My head spins with all the excellent advice offered; I feel I’m in the kindergarten class listening to college graduates.
I risk sounding lazy and unwilling to do spadework necessary for an accomplished writer, but perhaps I can share some ideas from a different point of view. They might sound primitive, and you have probably already thought them through. After all, soul-searching is part of our Christian stock-in-trade, isn’t it?
Reading this month’s blogs, I become fearful that by not investigating all the resources available I will fail. It constantly leads me to the question: what constitutes a “successful” writer? Which raises the more fundamental question: why do I write?
I find a few answers quickly. I enjoy it. I am able to express my joys about life and concerns about the world. Above all, I can express my deepest passion for the Gospel and its effect on life on earth. I write what I cannot speak so easily.
But why write or speak if there is no audience? It’s my greatest fear, and, it seems—as I peruse the means for gaining one—it is for many of us. But, of course, there is always an audience of at least one—the One we write for.
Well, that’s a cop out if ever I heard one. I’m not a monastery of one debating with God; others need to know about Him. But whether I know it or not, or even I like it or not, everything I do impinges on someone else.
Oh! So there’s an audience out there after all! Not necessarily one of my making, but a ready-made audience provided just by living. That also may be a cop out for others, but for me, perhaps it’s sufficient. The pleasure of writing is back, the pressure of seeking that audience is lessened, if not avoided.
All this doesn’t mean I don’t do research necessary to improve my writing. I have Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and The Little Brown Handbook—a very comprehensive big green book!—and a dozen or so other references and web-based resources. But I am comforted by a quote from Strunk and White:
Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.