Put a tiger in your tank
As writers, we share a universal challenge.
Failing this challenge will doom your writing career to mediocrity.
The challenge is this: How to be extraordinary.
A novelist friend of mine put it all in perspective. He said, “Publishers are not looking for skilled writers. They are looking for extraordinary writers; people who stand apart from the millions of skilled writers already out there.”
If you’re a writer or aspiring writer, you already know grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. You understand that writing takes a certain amount of discipline and effort. You have content expertise.
These aren’t the major problems you are likely to encounter as you pursue writing success.
The challenge is to move beyond the basic skill set into the realm of the extraordinary; to consistently find irresistible angles and ultra-creative content to make your writing stand out.
Should you be discouraged?
If you are an aspiring novelist and suspect that you are not an extraordinarily gifted storyteller, then yes, definitely!
However, if you want to get published online and inspire your audience with creative ideas, then you don’t need to be a Tolstoy.
You do need to release as much of your unique inner genius as you can, which brings us to the major obstacle to overcoming the challenge of being extraordinary: Lack of self-awareness.
That’s right. The fuel that drives extraordinary content is self-awareness. The late Brenda Ueland, author of the book If You Want to Write, one of the most original and practically helpful writing tutorials ever, has the following to say:
Everybody is original, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his true self and not from the self he thinks he should be. Jennings at Johns Hopkins, who knows more about heredity and the genes and chromosomes than any man in the world, says that no two identical persons have ever existed. Consequently, if you speak or write from yourself, you cannot help but be original.
With that, here are five ways to stoke the fire of your awareness and inspire your best writing.
1. Write from your true self.
The key is to let go of worrying how you will be perceived and simply write from your true self. This requires knowing your genuine feelings and freely expressing your spontaneous, original thoughts.
It’s a tall order. Displaying your genuine self over the various facades you present for public inspection is the nirvana of personal development. People work their entire lives toward this!
Nevertheless, the principle is true. If you can, without censoring or repositioning for popularity and approval, put your feelings and thoughts plainly into writing, you have all you need to be uniquely creative and original.
In fact, your writing couldn’t be anything else. Will your genuine, original writing be well received? That is a question you must leave to the readers.
2. Keep a feelings journal.
No, this isn’t therapy, but just do it. Passionate (and therefore interesting) writing is fueled by emotion. If you trudge through the day blandly unaware of your deeper feelings, you’re missing out on a ton of creative potential, not to mention the joys of living.
Learn to develop a keen awareness of your feelings. Follow them. Trace them to their origins. Along the way, you’ll discover your primary source of passion and creativity.
3. Ponder your biggest obstacles.
Honestly and appropriately sharing your struggles and how you solve problems is an expectation in today’s blogging world. Don’t avoid your problems. Ponder them. Tackle them!
Life’s obstacles and their solutions are ripe topics for writing, if you can be open and sincere in your approach. Do you want to be seen as a viable resource for your readers? Then you’ve got to be a viable resource for yourself.
Embrace your pain. Confront your fear. You’ll do more than solve challenging personal problems. You will also have a provocative story to tell.
4. Yes, I said embrace your pain…
Wait a minute, Mike. I’m a simple blogger wanting write better copy, not a freak!
Ok, but just think about it. Pain has been the inspiration of some of the best writing ever. I don’t mean physical pain, but the pain of the human condition. If you’re skeptical, read the United States Declaration of Independence, a document inspired by human suffering and pain.
Or, read Ghandi’s autobiography. Ghandi’s unforgettable legacy was inspired by the pain of oppression. His life and his writing were a tribute to freedom from such suffering.
Don’t avoid the pain associated with living as an imperfect person in an imperfect world. Embrace it. Not only will you live life more fully, but write more fully as well.
5. Practice perceptual positions.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) teaches us that we can take one of three points of view at any given time.
We can take our own point of view (perceptual position 1), a significant other’s point of view (position 2), or a neutral observer’s point of view (position 3). Good writing and creative genius incorporates all three perceptual positions. Practice them. You’ll find different ideas waiting in each position.
For example, recall a recent argument you had with someone. Then, remember the scenario from your own point of view. Replay it from the other’s point of view. Then review it again from an objective viewpoint.
If you did this little exercise, I’ll bet you came away with an insight worthy of sharing.
Here’s the moral of the story:
To be a great writer, live fully. Throw yourself head first into your life, its problems and pain, joys and triumphs.
Avoid nothing! Consider every point of view, without worrying about who is right or wrong. Most of all, don’t be afraid to feel and discover who you really are…
Along the way, transfer your experience onto your computer screen in plain humility, without a care in the world as to how you will be received.
You’ll be writing your level best. And that is all that matters.
Mike Bundrant is director of the iNLP Center, an online personal development site offering certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. For the free NLP mini-course, Three Soul Stirring Questions that Reveal your Deepest Goals, click here.