I love blogging and I love words, but some days I think the creative well has run dry. So I use a tip I learned from Michael Neill. I tell myself I’m not going to write today, I’m just going to open up WordPress. And before I know it, the piece is done.
This tip can be applied to almost anything we think we don’t want to do. I’m not going to cut the grass, I’m just going to get the mower out. I’m not going to jog, I’m just going to put on my running shorts and trainers and stand outside the front door. This is an incredibly useful strategy because before you know it, you’ve tricked yourself into habitual behaviours. Anyhow, that’s not what I wanted to write about today, so I’m moving swiftly on.
The joys of writing online are that I can attempt to express myself, to blog how I’m thinking and feeling today. The pitfalls are that the reader will put some completely different interpretation on my words and my piece won’t resonate, instead it will rankle. Oh dear. This is the last thing I would want, but on contemplating this very thought this morning, I know that I am not yet a good enough writer to ensure you always read precisely and only what I intend to say.
And there’s a challenge I relish. To write and blog and practise and practise until the day comes where there can be no misunderstandings or misinterpretations. I wonder if such a writer’s nirvana exists or will our words always open to interpretation by the reader? Can we ever say unequivocally that we’ve left nothing to chance? Is that desirable, even in non-fiction?
I never want to offend; I’m not brave enough for that. I particularly don’t want to misrepresent myself and I know there aren’t enough hours in the day to read through and re-read what I’ve written and ponder the myriad ways in which my words could accidentally mislead my reader into comprehending X when I meant to communicate Y.
I wrote a piece which I felt had the propensity to be regarded by some as what the Californians call “over-sharing”, usually accompanied with them holding both arms over their heads in an O shape. I love this. I think it’s very funny, but with your finger hovering over the Publish button it’s not a happy place to be. It requires bravery and/or self-censorship and only you, the writer, can decide which is the appropriate action. I tend to err on the side of bravery, especially if I have nothing else in stock I want to say that day. I also favour experimentation so I can find out what my readers do and don’t enjoy.
In response I received possibly the nicest, most heart-warming testimonial I’ve ever received about my blogging and another piece of feedback which suggested perhaps I’d been mis-read.
Both responses are useful and gratefully received. The testimonial uplifted my spirits to carry on blogging with renewed vigour and acceleration, knowing my writing is resonating. And the feedback reminded me not to be too smug, I’ve a long way to go as a writer before I cease to put words together in formations which can confuse, or offend, or leave room for erroneous assumptions.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but hooray for the feedback – which was lovingly given and unusually happily received by me – not least because it provided the inspiration for this piece.
The NLP-ers of my acquaintance tell me that the meaning of your communication is the response you get. So what does a writer do when she gets two completely divergent responses? If you can’t hope to please all of the people, what can you hope to achieve if not to be your own person writing your own authentic truth?
For me the answer is to keep on keeping on, knowing that no matter what I say or how I say it and how my writing skills improve with diligent work over the next few decades, I will never be able to ordain what you choose to read in my words and between my lines. Well-intentioned feedback and rave reviews are opposite sides of the same coin and both will inform and improve my writing.
I am particularly sensitive to people’s feelings; perhaps I err on the side of caution in that regard. I would never intend to offend or upset. Equally the same applies when you write to let me know that I have failed, usually you have my best interests at heart. So do please continue to send that feedback as it teaches me when I have accidentally mis-communicated.
All of which means I have a long way to go as a writer and I look forward very much to that journey unfolding every day. I cannot think of a better form of self-development for me right now than to get to know myself better by continuing to explore and experiment in my writing with the goal of increasing resonance and reducing the rankle factor.