On procrastination

“Writing is 90% procrastination. It is a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” ~ Paul Rudnick

“Writing is 90% procrastination. It is a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” ~ Paul Rudnick

Awhile back I stumbled onto a quick fix that works quite well. You’ve likely heard of it, but have you applied it?

The secret?

Lower your standards and keep going.

If writing is about ego gratification you may be squirming at the prospect. Who wants to write sh*t for the sake of pen to paper?

I do, because I’ve learned that writing as practice and process is the foundation of quality writing.

So start scribbling shite on your pages, dear friends. Eventually you’ll polish some of those turds and find yourself with something pretty great.

Or you could do laundry, listen to music, reorganize the cupboards, read news, and all the while imagine what a great writer you’ll be… someday… when you finally start writing.

A writer writes. An egotist fantasises about the life of writing.

Which will you be?

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The art of the email

I met someone the other week who writes f*cking brilliant emails. Consistently. I’m awed by such people. The delicate balance between coercive and charming often eludes me, and I come across as either too pushy or too passive (my attempt at softening). How do you approach the art of the email? As I try to finesse my style, I’m absorbing a diversity of approaches.

My typical email experience includes emotionally charged bashing at the keyboard for a bramble of a first draft, followed by a vigorous slashing of emotionally charged terms, and a generous splashing of positivity (without seeming insanely optimistic). Then there’s the beastly issue of the emoticon. To 🙂 or 😉 is the question. And f*ck me if I ever know the answer. In some contexts they seem damn near necessary to point out playful tone or to emphasize that I am indeed smiling despite forceful prose. But then there’s the voice telling me that they’re bloody cringeworthy and better left to adolescent sexting on kik.

emailDon’t even get me started on subject lines. I’ve probably lost days of my life writing and rewriting subject lines to compel the reader to open my message without coming across as alarmist, curt, or excessively wordy — apparently more than 50 characters and you’ve written yourself off!

Searching the interwebs for advice on crafting effective emails is variably useful. “Thanks, I do own a dictionary and have one at hand, and yes, I’ve spelled the person’s name correctly.” I’ve mastered the basics and am looking for the deeper secrets to ensure my readers feel valued whilst I come across as breezy (if you knew it had taken me 10 minutes to write and obsess over these three sentences, I would lose my cool factor).

Until I’ve mastered the art of the email…

when something’s really important, I just pick up the damn phone.

a soul not for sale

People are a muddy mix of great and terrible things. What would you do if you were offered a job with good pay at a non-profit… by a blazing racist? Today I interviewed this chap because he leads a charity doing great things in developing countries. I interviewed him previously, and he seemed nice enough to host again on a different show. But like a GPS unit thwarted by clouds, my character radar was on the fritz, because holy mackerel did he say some toe curling things! And I can’t wrap my head around his desire to debase the people he’s trying to help.

soul not for saleI wish I could claim total heroism and say that I dropped the interview after vehemently putting him in his place for using the ‘n word’ in an offensive limerick. But I didn’t. Sure I made clear it wasn’t okay, which he acknowledged.

But… I’ll still run the interview with the offence spliced out. I’ll still benefit from the work, and his charity from the positive exposure.

I won’t accept the job because I couldn’t work beneath such intolerance. But can I really claim that my soul is not for sale? It did make certain allowances. There was some measure of tolerance of intolerance.

We like to think of ourselves as always taking the highest road. But the middle road seems to be more common because people are a muddy mix of great and terrible things.