Falsifying Words
by Alex Shippee in Labels: , , , ,

If you thumb through Twitter profiles long enough, you'd be amazed how many people identify themselves as, "Internet Marketing Gurus," "Best Selling Authors," and "Social Media Experts." I don't doubt that most of these are true from a certain perspective, but as Ryan Holiday wrote, "There are hundreds of these hollow shells whose meaning has fallen away while the demand for their association has risen dramatically. We need them badly."

One of my favorite books is Dante's "Inferno", for a lot of reasons. After Dante-the-Character treks all the way past the greedy, the thieves, the angry, and the tyrants, he reaches the single most corrupting thing you can do short of actively betraying someone: falsifying words. Diluting the truth. Lying. How can that possibly be worse than stealing or being violent?

Because the communities we all live in depend on bonds of credibility and trust. When somebody gets angry and shouts at you, you react to the aggressive disturbance immediately. You know what hit you and you can identify it, respond to it, and then move on.

But when somebody puts on a charming front, ensnaring your trust, it can take a lot of stress and heartache before you see reality. Lifeless weeks can drag on while you wonder where the time has gone.

I don't know why it bothers me so much. Maybe it's because I've been struggling to meet my own standards for so long. Friends of mine - who are better writers than I am - tell me about things they've submitted to various publications. Sometimes they've been accepted, sometimes not. All I know is is that I don't have anything that's up to their level yet. And that's fine. I'm in no rush to become a "published writer" because I know the mere act of publishing something doesn't make you a professional at it.

By the same token, anointing yourself as an "Internet Marketing Guru" doesn't make it so. It falsely broadcasts a level of expertise you don't have. If people don't see you as a fraud yet, they will when they realize you can't deliver results.

Why Do You Write?
by Alex Shippee in Labels: ,

Everybody writes a little bit. We compose emails and business documents, papers for class and blog posts. When we have an assignment, it’s easy to say why we write: “My boss/teacher told to and I need to make the deadline.” But what about those people who are not being told when and what to write? Why do they do it?

If we’re talking about sustainability, the surest motivation is a personal need to express yourself. You write because, if you didn’t, your brain would fill with frantic, nebulous stars. You’ll walk around all day, but your mind is on a different planet. Your creative impulses overflow and your imagination runs wild. You crave what, in “Inception,” Ellen Page calls just...pure creation.

For me, ignoring writing isn’t something I can afford to do – although I may fear doing it – so I keep a journal. Or start a blog. Or write stories. Or gravitate, perhaps without thinking, to a career or major that rewards strong writing. And at the end of the day, when I close my eyes, it’s a welcome and comfortable sleep.

So that’s why I write. And it's starting to get easier to just keep going.