One of the by-products of having worked in churches is I developed an oversensitive word/idea filter. Because I worked in churches that had the unbiblical model that the majority ruled, I had to be careful of how I worded things. Not just how I worded them, but I often had to keep my mouth shut all together. If I said something a certain member of the church didn’t like, there was a good chance that person could start a movement to get me fired. I grew up seeing this happen in my home church, but it’s a whole different deal when it starts happening to you.
I guess learning what to say and what not to say is not entirely a bad thing in some cases. But it can be if it’s done just to keep your job. I have to be honest and admit there were some things I needed to say and needed to be said but I didn’t say because I didn’t want to deal with the fallout.
This means I really did develop an overly sensitive filter for what I say. Now that I’ve started this journey to become a writer it’s been really tough to ignore the impulse to filter. The muscle memory is so strong I have to look at what I wrote and then ask myself is this really what I meant.
I developed a writing template and at the top of it there’s a list of tips to writing good content. One of those tips is “don’t be chicken s***”. It’s a crude way to get the point across. Even though I’m sure there’s some people would say the fact I even felt the need to admit it was crude, proves I still have not removed my filter.
One of the things I’ve noticed all great writers have in common is they lack a filter. Whatever they think is the best way to say something is what they do.
It’s true there are writers who seem to relish in controversy. They find the most controversial topic to write about and then say it in the most controversial way. In the internet world we call it clickbait. It’s not really what they think. But it is a great way to get noticed.
The truly great writers do not filter themselves, not to get noticed but to put out great content. In fact I’d love to see the rough drafts from a lot of my favorite writers. When I look at what the end result, I can’t imagine what they started with. For instance it’d be really fun to see a Hunter S. Thompson first draft.
Thompson is a great example that one of the keys to great writing is exposing your soul. I’ve followed Andy Andrews career pretty closely lately and as I read through his stuff he doesn’t shy away from showing a lot of the bumps along the way. He almost proudly writes about living under the pier in Gulf Shores. And that kind of authenticity connects with a reader.
One of the tips I read about great communication, whether it be writing or speaking, is to say something your reader has always thought but did not have the nerve to say. Which is a great way of thinking about removing my filter
The other piece of this is to learn the skill of saying something controversial in a way people will read it and consider it. It does no good to alienate the people who would read your stuff, especially if you have an idea you know would add value to their lives. Seems to me it’s a much better idea to take the time to craft the words and the thoughts in such a way people will read/listen.
We’ll see how this goes.
And by the way this entire blog post was written using Google Docs voice typing. I think it missed 6 words in the original 765. I’m amazed at how good it is.