Put Up or Shut Up: In Other Words, Writers Write
Two of my writer pals took a dig at me this week while we were chatting and celebrating World Book Night. All in good fun, of course. What are you writing? That hot-button question. Dave continued, “So, when you tweet #amwriting, are you talking about writing that tweet?” We all laughed, but the message is clear—put up or shut up. If you want to join this particular brotherhood of man (or sisterhood of woman?), then you gotta face facts. Writers write.
I probably didn’t need another third-party nudge to produce more words, but the night after that I went to a Chicago Self-Publishing Group presentation about websites for writers. I knew some of the information already—this little corner of the WordPress world exists because of what I’ve sussed out myself—but Andrew Hicks, Columbia College instructor and web wizard, reminded me that a website, and especially a blog, is a living, breathing thing. Update, generate content, repeat. Constantly.
But I’m so busy, tired, hungry. But every post has to sparkle. But I don’t have time for 500 words.
But, but, but. Garbage excuses. Andrew said posting just a paragraph or two is fine. I know this. I’ve done it. It feels good.
Then I forget. I get trapped by the idea that every word has to be perfect, and if I’m not feeling inspired, if I think I don’t have something meaningful and valuable to say, then I tell myself I should stay silent. This trap is an occupational hazard when you’re a writer and an editor. Snap. The self-editor squashes one half-formed idea and moves on to the next, to squash again.
Enough excuses. Way back in the day, my very first post, in fact, I knew that I had to put up or shut up. Writers don’t just talk about writing. Writers write.
I’ve got a few short stories in progress, tons of ideas for blog posts, a few scrawled starts for live lit. Everything messy and not ready for prime time.
But only half of writing is that perfect finished piece. The other half is the process. The procrastinating, the hand-wringing, the fretting (and, yes, the editing). I think it’s time for me to put it all out there. Not just the shiny and slick. If it’s rough, or new, or a work in progress, I’m going to blog about it.
Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that I shouldn’t talk publicly about what I’m writing—not just because it’s a little gauche, sort of like bragging, but also because those tender ideas are too new, too young and fragile to be exposed to prying eyes and critics.
So easy for me to buy into those beliefs. They’re the voices that say shut up instead of put up. They’re the blocks. I’m done with them. Writers write.