- Wed, November 09 2011
- Filed under: Writing
One of my favorite quotes about writing is by Thomas Mann, who said: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
For me, being a writer involves a certain way of thinking - a very hard kind of thinking that mandates suspension of self-doubt, demands constant practice and requires fantastically absurd amounts of discipline. It’s a lifelong slog with small bursts of inspiration. I love it, I hate it and I can’t stop doing it.
I bring this up because I suspect you can relate. The art of expressing our cause well is like being a real writer, which means we might as well face the fact that our task is more difficult than it is for other people. A great message is simple, clear and vivid. It takes enormous effort to get our thoughts to such a point of clarity that they can be stripped down to something elegant. and powerful.
That is far more work than blah-blah—the easy slapping down of a slew of words that are muddy, complex, boring or bland. Do your cause justice with fresh, snappy language that can be grasped in an instant and remembered for days. You won’t completely hit the mark (no one is perfect), but in striving for the harder goal, you will be an infinitely more effective communicator. Make your writing more difficult than it is for other people, and your message will be better than most anyone else’s.
As for blah, blah, here is Dan Roam on the topic. Dan makes complex ideas incredibly simple with small pictures (I truly envy his talent). Here is his very visual take on simple, clear and vivid messages - and the perils of blah-blah. Enjoy. (His new book, which I’m reading now, is called Blah Blah Blah: What to Do When Words Don’t Work.