Writing As A Form Of Clarity

While writing will always be open to interpretation, it’s far less open to interpretation than body language, reactions, passing comments, whispers on the wind, moral values, historical precedent or anything else equally abstract under the communication umbrella. Laws are not common unspoken understandings between citizens and the courts; laws live on paper in writing. Life at home, operations at your organization or cooperation in your community often improve when words grace the page.

If you hope to bring clarity to a situation, put it on paper. Outline it on paper. Announce it on paper. Rules, feedback, expectations, values and goals all work better when written and preserved. They become real. Sure, words can be misunderstood or interpreted in many ways. The best writers learn to use this to their advantage. When it comes to clarity in writing, less is more – with fewer words (specifically adjectives), there’s less room for wandering interpretations. Memos are good. Assumptions are bad. Dialogue without recording serves no concrete or lasting purpose. It disappears and distorts. The written word by itself does not distort.

It’s Communication’s Fault!

Human conflict, drama and gossip are all very funny things. Call me idealistic, but I do not believe that deep down people genuinely dislike other people. Bad relationships form out of misinformation or no information at all. We’ve all been gifted with perspective and egos, but they often do us the disservice of helping listeners misinterpret a speaker and inspiring speech to skew with bias. It is very, very easy – even more so for the most mindful, brilliant, sociable or well-spoken people – to misunderstand each other. Dialogue, body language and writing are all very delicate things. If you find yourself in a sticky situation with another human being, give him or her the benefit of the doubt and blame poor communication first. Try to get the other person to do the same. Get on the same page about miscommunication and you are one step closer to working it out. It’s not the other person’s fault – do not blame him or her. It’s communication’s fault.

Create

Balance between input and output is key. Lately, consumption is easier than ever. Distractions run amuck. But the tools are easier than ever, too. Save for more distractions, you have no excuse to procrastinate your work and talent. If you’re not creating, you’re consuming. You’re not giving back to the world and people in it who give you so much. You’re living a selfish relationship with life. Good luck leaving a legacy. No thank you.

Write. Paint. Speak. Raise children. Build things. Get your hands dirty. Give back to the world and the people you care about. Make a difference. Don’t sit still. Don’t wait and watch. Don’t only take in – put out (no innuendo intended). Try not to concern yourself with turning your creation into your business – if you create well enough, the business will come. Focus on building great things and gifting them to all. It’s good for the soul (and can’t hurt your legacy).

Invent More, Edit Less

We are so afraid to put ourselves out into the world that we erect barriers of revision, drafts, filters, editing, testing and censorship to prevent us from making mistakes in the public eye. If we spent less time chopping our own balls off and more time giving back to the world without reservation, we could all live rich and accomplished lives.

We are afraid. Afraid to reveal our flaws. Afraid to show our true colors. Afraid to give ourselves to the public for fear that the world might reject us. Fear mutates to the point that we are afraid to invent at all. We do nothing. Live dispassionate, passive and apathetic lives. All because we do not want to be caught with a misspelled word or bad picture edit.

I do not mean to discredit editing or the role of editors. Of all the creative and technical mediums, I cannot think of a single one that accurately channels the human soul. Mistakes happen and products come to life in ways we do not intend. We need to edit and revise to connect the dots so that things make sense. If we ignore editing completely, our message will misinform or fall on deaf ears.

But we alone cannot judge whether our creations connect with others. We cannot separate ourselves from the material. The faster we create things, the more necessary it is to get a second opinion. Put yourself out there to user groups, testers and editors to give you feedback. Some of my most beloved and respected friends are editors. Editors keep people like me from making perilous or silly mistakes. They make sure my thoughts track across the medium and translate clearly. Editors volunteer to help others focus on inventing and offer the confidence to do so. Editors are noble people with a selfless and patient purpose.

Whether you share with an editor, friends, random testers or publish immediately, you need to put your creation out there as quickly as possible. The longer it stays on your table, the harder it will be for you to let go. You will despair in all the flaws, possible misrepresentations and disconnects you come to know. You will revise and remodel your work into oblivion.

Stop it. Stop editing. Get it off the table and into someone else’s hands. Let go. Let your child have a life of its own. Only time will tell how the world reacts to your work. You are not an authority on that subject and should give up trying. Focus more on inventing and less on how people see you. Be yourself. Create from within. Fear nothing.

One Year Anniversary

I started blogging one year ago today. I’ve successfully posted every single day since then. 373 entries, nearly 70,000 words and 17,000 unique visitors so far. I have no intention of stopping.

This year, I hope to focus my material and brand this blog. If you have anything you like or don’t like about the direction I’ve taken, please let me know!

Thank you, dear reader, for keeping up with and sharing my posts. This continues to be a wild and fulfilling ride. An extra special thank you to Shirl for proofing my posts and never missing a word! Love you all.

The Camera Will Not Let You Fake Honesty

For most people, you cannot script honesty. Actors get paid the big bucks to bring someone else’s words to life. Most people can’t do that. Most people stale up when forced to read a script. If you mean to be honest with your audience, words must come from the heart and without censorship. If you cannot deliver a genuine message from a page, throw the page away. Skip the expensive production value if you need to. Keep it simple: one shot, one take. Nothing between you and absolute truth.

Woah There, Hot Shot! Take It Easy On Self-Promotion

You walk a fine line to promote yourself. How do you share your value with the world without boasting about it? How can you exude confidence without coming off as haughty? Blowing your own horn turns people off. I know I prefer to follow brands and artists that spend little time praising themselves and provide value to my life. Who wouldn’t? If Ramit Sethi spent less time praising his own accomplishments, I would spend more money on his content.

The key to building a great brand? Consistently providing great value. Without question, a brand like the one Ramit built will grow if you continue to deliver on your promise. People are thirsty for good content and will follow. However, the distance between a strong brand and a sustainable one can be measured by humility. Without too much self-deprecation, a brand must genuinely acknowledge weaknesses, listen to all parties invested and restrain bragging rights as much as possible. Celebrate success with your fans, defend your gifts to the world – and hold back the rest.

I have learned through nearly a year of writing this blog that headlines, tweets and content centered around myself or plugging my writing perform far worse than direct content. I beg you, dear readers – call me out any time my writing is sullied with boasting. No one likes content adulterated by too much Craig Ormiston.

Don’t Censor Yourself

Let the words flow. If you have something you’d like to say, say it. Do not be afraid what other people will think. Permit yourself to say something wrong. Stay open to criticism and feedback – it’s the only way to refine your voice and position against millions of other voices.

When I started this blog, posts took around an hour per day. I was afraid what people might think, so I spent a lot of time on them. A year later, I care less about the craft of my posts and more about the ideas I want to communicate. Now, with a few exceptions, posts take me no more than 20 minutes per day. As soon as I surrendered my preoccupation with perfect writing, the thoughts flowed more freely, and it demanded far less of my time.

Censoring yourself not only compromises your character, it can compromise your time. Do not fail yourself or your ideas with perfectionism. Spit it out, fool.

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Create Daily

I can think of nothing decidedly more human than creativity. The human value of creativity stems from our primordial experiences as a species when we discovered how to wield tools. Inventing and creating are spiritual endeavours. Like cleansing yourself of toxins, genuine creative output clears the heart and mind. The more often you create, the healthier and richer your humanity becomes. I blog daily and get a kick out of it. What can you do everyday to keep the juices flowing?

5 Reasons Why I Blog Daily (And You Should, Too)

The college essay ruined writing for me. Having only ever been asked to deliver the formal five-paragraph essay in school, I came to dread the written word. I procrastinated assignments to the bitter end. Determined to revisit writing and heal academic wounds, I committed to blogging daily in March. I could never have imagined how fruitful this journey would become. Today marks my 250th post and over 50,000 words since I started blogging eight months ago. Now, I am in love with writing. I encourage everyone to blog for the following five reasons:

  1. Output – Through a commitment to generating content daily, you condition yourself to build a large personal volume. Little by little, you end up with a novel’s worth in literature. Many authors, including Tim Ferris and Tucker Max, have expanded their blogs into best-selling books. With tact, you can leverage your authored library into strong returns. Output is more than half the battle; a daily commitment can bring it all home. Will I publish a book? Not planning on it, but maybe someday!
  1. Craft – By blogging every day, you hone your skills as a writer. You learn to develop ideas faster, structure arguments more strategically, and define your authorial voice. I lost practice writing after college and blogging brought most of it back.
  1. Experimentation – A blog and its community can be great places to test ideas, develop concepts, start conversations, and collect feedback. Theories can evolve over time through posts, comments, impressions, and personal conversations. If you want to test the validity or integrity of your ideas, throw them to the wolves online.
  1. Memorialization – I blog to preserve ideas, concepts, discoveries, and lessons. I found myself learning a lot, offering advice to friends, and teaching so many lessons that otherwise disappeared into the wind. It felt like a total waste to keep everything in the back of my mind. By publishing, I save thoughts and expand the public reach of potentially useful ideas.
  1. Connectivity – Blogging connects me to readers in ways I never thought possible. Through exchanges in comments, email, and conversation, I continue to develop intellectual relationships with professionals, estranged friendships, acquaintances, and people I’ve never met at all. I learn so much from you. Thank you all for reading! It has been an absolute pleasure. Cheers to many more!