What Do You Really Want to Say?
The clearer your message, the more impactful your writing.
Congratulations to Lori Eaton on winning the March book giveaway!! Thanks so much for being a paid subscriber to my Rebel Author newsletter. You’ll be receiving a copy of Christopher P. Locke’s amazing collection of essays, Without Saints, in the mail this week.
If you’re not yet a paid subscriber, I hope you’ll jump on the bandwagon soon as I’ll be giving away another book in April and also hosting our first live call for paid subscribers on April 28, where you’ll get to ask me anything about writing and meet other writers to connect with!
Clarity for Your Writing
Confession time: I don’t often know before I start writing what it is that I want to say. It’s more that I am curious about something and I want to unpack it, or figure out what I think about it, or recount an important experience or memory and make meaning of it.
But the thing is, when I don’t know what I want to say - the so-called, “so-what?” of my piece - I end up muddled and going in a lot of directions. Which means the writing isn’t clear, isn’t finished, and the reader won’t know what I am trying to tell them.
Because I don’t really know. Yet.
Now that I know this, I’ve tried to get ahead of things and think about what I want the message to be. Because the clearer your message, the more impact you can have with your writing.
Recently I started writing an essay about a long-time friendship that suddenly ended when my friend ghosted me. It’s been eight years since I last heard from this person, and I still have no idea what happened. I was inspired to write the piece by the premise behind my friend Annie Cathryn’s novel, The Friendship Breakup.
There are a lot of beautiful sentences and poignant questions in the draft I have going. But I’m not sure yet what the message will be. I’ve done some research into adult friendships that end suddenly (did you know 60% of adults lose a friendship without explanation?). And I’ve walked away from the writing to ponder my so-what?.
But until I can clarify the message, the piece will not be finished or publishable.
It’s like the universe is telling me that I have to know myself pretty well before I can impart a message of importance.
Working Out Our Stuff
Writing is a little bit like therapy - well a lot. The state of writing for me is a lot like swimming. I’m in the pool three times a week and when I coast beneath the rippling surface and align my limbs in swift, seamless motion, feel the rhythmic thump-thump-thump of my heart beating and watch the water smooth and crinkle from my coming and going, I fall into a meditative state.
I think but I don’t think. I reflect without speaking. I work out problems without knowing I’m doing so.
The same thing happens for me when I’m writing.
I believe the message will come eventually, and it always does. The trick is to keep sitting down at the keyboard or with pen in hand and let the words come. Over and over, like those reverberating waves.
I so appreciate you reading my newsletter, and I hope it’s inspiring and motivating for your writing. If you haven’t already, I’d be grateful for your paid support!