You don’t ‘have’ to read
It’s more than twenty years since horror author Steven King published his writing tips in On writing: a memoir of the craft.
I haven’t read any of his books (too scary) or even On writing but I have read plenty of articles quoting his advice like it’s etched in stone.
We ‘shouldn’t’ watch television.
We ‘should’ write and read a lot.
I don’t disagree with writing a lot. It’s the only way to get better.
But no television? Read instead?
That’s the only way to get better at writing?
I disagree. Passionately.
There are many ways to tell a story.
The written word isn’t the only or always the best way.
This came up for me as I was listening to This American Life, an hour-long public radio show/podcast that explores a theme each week. It’s been running since 1995 and is regarded as the gold standard for audio storytelling.
I’ve learned a lot through listening toThis American Life.
- That conversational language nurtures connection.
- That detours in a storyline keep the interest and brain switched on.
- That following a theme provides a flow to the stories that feels satisfying.
- And that no story is too small to make a difference when there’s a connection to the bigger picture.
It’s not just radio shows and podcasts that can teach us about writing.
Music lyrics, spoken word poetry, comedy performances, social media posts and yes, even television.
When you take care to observe what’s moving you and how it’s being done, you can get something from them all.
Reading is good but it’s not the only way to improve our writing. Sorry, Steven.
But I do agree with you on this much…
To get better at writing, we have to write.
Easier said than done for many of us, I know.
We are busy with the competing demands of our business or career so we put off writing until there’s ‘enough’ time. Then we fall behind with our newsletters and blog posts, and the kind of content that lets people know we exist.
But it’s a myth that you need a lot of time. I’ve written plenty of news stories in less than half an hour, from start to finish, because there was no choice – news deadlines are unalterable.
It IS hard when you’re on your own, without a useful framework, firm deadline, or supportive community offering ideas and feedback.
But my Content Writing Group can help.
It’s running on Zoom from 4-25 September 2021*, every Saturday for four weeks from 10am-11am, Perth (Australia). We’ll also have a private Facebook group to keep the momentum going during the week.
An hour may not seem long but that’s the point – it’s not how much time you have but how you use it.
The goals are simple:
- Write more often
- Write for shorter durations (to start)
- Publish more often
- Be happier with what you publish.
It’s $75 for four weeks – book here or email me for more info.
Our voice matters. Yours, mine and theirs.
*If you’re reading this after September 2021, just email me to find out about the program and how you can take part: email@example.com