I am stoked to present to you the first installment of The Write Way's new feature, Tell Me About It Tuesday. I asked +Martin Conterez, a writer I greatly admire, to be my first guest. I gave him no limits in this guest post. All I asked is that he tell my readers something he understood about writing. He didn't disappoint.
Martin is a budding writer who is just now coming to terms with the joys that come with such endeavors. Martin has spent most of his life being a math geek and general pop culture nerd. His days are spent chasing a successful career within the U.S. Government. The rest of his time is spent enjoying his two pawns (yes that's a chess reference to his children). What little time he has left after that he likes to fill with running and gambling, and of course writing.
All of his work can be found at http://themathmaster.wordpress.com/
What Would Richard Simmons Write?
We’ve all heard the poppish catch phrase “What would Jesus do?” The question is meant to invoke thoughts and feelings of morality and how one should respond given a particular situation. Ultimately the questions begs us to believe that there is only one correct way to act when faced with a given situation. That correct way being however Jesus Christ would respond. Generally one is led to believe the correct response revolves around passivity and love or something like that.
But that question, and the answer, isn’t what today’s post is about. When Mary asked me to write a spot for her Tell Me About It Tuesday feature, she only gave me one guideline: It has to relate to writing. That’s not a lot to go on. The first question I asked myself after that is, “What should I write about?” Writing about writing is not easy in general. Meta-writing, or writeception, if you want to coin a pop culture phrase, requires that we dig deeper and think about how we go about writing the things we write.
When I first started my blog I had to decide what to write about then too. I did research (mostly reading other blogs), and thought about what the popular bloggers write about. I thought about the subjects I like and have a better than general knowledge on. I thought about what hooks I would attach so that people would recognize my writing. I thought about how to promote my writing so that people would get to know me. In the end, none of that really helped.
What I found was that there are endless amounts of people out there who want to tell you what you need to write, how you need to write it, how you need to promote it (The dreaded SEO), and all sorts of things related to “you must” when it comes to writing. After reading all of these I was really no closer to figuring out what to do than I was before I started.
One day I was perusing the internet and I came across Richard Simmons. I’m sure many of you remember him for his flamboyant personality and his wildly successful fitness programs. Many people look up to him, and credit him for changing their lives, and other such praises. The more I read about him the more I started to be in awe of his accomplishments and success.
I wanted people to think about my writing that way. I know it seems a bit selfish, but I didn’t want to just write for the sake of writing. Yes, I enjoyed writing and it helps me in a therapeutic sort of way, but a small part of me wanted (still wants) to be recognized for my writing and content that I produce. I started to think about what made Mr. Simmons so successful, or at least so liked. I thought about what he would do in his life if given a situation.
This line of thinking led me to ask the ultimate question. What would Richard Simmons write?
The answer is frighteningly simple and hard to implement without a purging of honesty from oneself. Drumroll please… He would write whatever he wanted to. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. He would write whatever he wanted to. If he felt like writing something, he would write it. If he didn’t feel like writing something, he wouldn’t.
Think about how powerful that idea is. No apologies, no deep thoughts, no asking permission, no expertise or background needed. No special hooks, or tricks, or hype. Just writing what you want.
I’m sure when he was younger there were plenty of people who told him how he should live his life. How he should lose weight, what he should do for work, how he should live, etc. He did what he wanted to. He probably got told that a career in helping others lose weight would never be successful. He didn’t care, he just did it. Because that’s what he wanted to do. There were probably plenty of people who told him you can’t create exercise regimes for the obese, or elderly, or those whose bodies couldn’t handle excessive physical stress. He did it anyway. Because that’s what he wanted to do. He didn’t ask permission, he just did it.
It was a lot of work to be sure, but it’s what he wanted to do. He opened an entire fitness center dedicated to the concept of helping people of all walks of life with their overall health. Because that’s what he wanted to do. There was plenty of hate along the way. People who attacked him, questioned him. Told him he was doing it wrong. Told him how he should be doing it. He didn’t listen, he just continued and today continues, doing exactly what he wants to.
And do you know what? He’s incredibly successful doing exactly that. No SEO, no team of experts, no guiding overused cliche` mantras. Just him doing what he wants. I get the feeling that even if he wasn’t successful (from a business standpoint) he would still be doing exactly what he wants. His greatest satisfaction is quoted as “reaching out and touching his students”. Not physically in this sense, but through engagement and honesty. He honestly puts himself out there and does what he wants, and forces people to either accept all that he is or not. If they don’t accept him, he moves on. He focuses on those who do accept him, and builds his success around that.
The same goes for writing. Write what you want to write. Write how you want to write. Don’t apologize. Don’t write what someone else wants you to write. Don’t write how someone else wants you to write. Just write yourself. Put yourself out there, your honesty on the paper. Force people to accept it, or not accept it. Those who don’t accept it, move on from them. Those who do accept it, build your success around them. Because life is to short to spend all your time doing and writing what somebody else wants you to. ←- (See that. I just ended on a preposition, because I wanted to. Deal with it.)