How boringly self-absorbed do we get to BE on our various blogs and social networks? I mean are there rules? Since I’m still thinking of that old Army guy who told me that nobody reads past the first page of a thing, I’ve hunted down an old list of tips I once made for myself, cribbed from the amazing Brenda Ueland who wrote for all of her whole long life and walked six to nine miles every day. She said we should all write fiercely and fearlessly, letting it all come out until the stream runs clear. This hero of mine also said:
- Don’t try to be smarter than you are. (Not hard for me I can tell you.)
- Don’t write what you don’t feel. (Couldn’t if I tried.)
- Be Careless, Reckless! Be a Lion, Be a Pirate, when you write, and. finally,
- Don’t say your heroine is wonderful. If you do your reader will see you as both a propagandist and a self-adoring prig. (ouch! Pretty sure I was the latter all through high school.)
She believed that in any piece of writing you are attempting to find the thing you most truly believe.
To find out what I most truly believe, I begin by trying to cut out as many words as I can. When I unsheathe my knife it’s amazing: I see at once where the blubber is and off it comes, easy as trimming a steak.
I just have to keep ego out of it and I can do it every time.
This post, for example, started out 580 words long. and now look: it’s just 355, 354, 353 but still too long, still too long, get that knife back out! 36– (See? It works! I cut it off mid-number that time!)
Strunk and White said it in their classic writers’ manual The Elements of Style: “When In Doubt Cut it Out.” Or, as my mother once hissed in the world’s loudest stage whisper just after the second encore and before the third at a truly endless children’s concert in a hot-box of a rented hall, “GAD! Let my people GO!”