I won’t grow up.
Though Father Time tells me I’m, as they say, “over the hill,” I decided long ago that I would never be a grown up … not entirely, at least. Though the years stack up against my intention, I’m not afraid. “Young at heart” is something no clock or calendar can steal from you. That is all I want – not changeless beauty or undying vitality, but only to be forever possessed of a pliable and open mind, a mind that can see and believe in magic, a mind that perceives truth instead of accepting assumptions.
I recently listened to another episode of The James Altucher Show via podcast. The guest this time was Stephen Dubner, co-author with Steven D. Levitt of the New York Times bestseller, Freakonomics. The duo’s latest book, Think Like a Freak was the subject of the Althucher interview which included some great commentary on the advantages of a young mind:
Once you stop admitting what you don’t know, you also stop gathering good feedback … you stop experimenting …
When you make [an] assumption, you stop actually trying to embark on creative ways to gather feedback and experiment and find out. People should be much more willing to admit what they don’t know because that’s the best way to figure things out.
The young mind is more plastic than the older mind. Perceptually, we are always getting duller and duller.
Adults are great at paying attention … laser-focusing on a task at the exclusion of everything else. … It can also be valuable to have a really diffuse attention where instead of focusing on the one thing … you’re taking in other stuff.
As writers, we must retain our ability to perceive and think like a child. We must hold onto a sense of awe and curiosity. We must ask questions and not be afraid because we don’t already know the answer. We have to gather ideas and thoughts and experiment to see “what happens if.” A writer must observe with the wide open, unbiased eyes of youth – eyes that are not prone to showing you only what you expect to see. That particular kind of blindness is one that too many of us develop as we “grow up.” We think we know everything. We assume too much. We lose our ability to see that which baffles us because we don’t want to have to say, “I don’t know.”
A writer must be willing to explore the I-don’t-know. That’s our territory.
I will never grow up. I will always ask questions. I will always notice the things that “adults” pass by. I will always ask “what if?” and not be worried if I see a little magic in the world. I will always play. This, for me, is the great joy and responsibility of a writer – to live in the world always as a child and to share that experience with anyone who cares to read my words.
What I’m Writing:
I continue on my usual rounds – Morning Pages, client projects, and my column. I still have not decided how to handle the issue of my multiple writer personalities online, so I have no easy way to share my latest round of columns with you. I would, however, like to share a particular kind of writing that I’m just beginning to explore: brand journalism.
I currently make the vast majority of my income as a “marcom” writer – a marketing and communications writer who provides copy for businesses. In this role, I work with a variety of business types on a variety of project types. I help companies develop their brand messaging and content strategy. I also write the actual content for websites, ebooks, point-of-view papers, blog posts, and other marketing collateral.
I enjoy the work, but as a student of fiction and creative nonfiction would love to be able to work more of that craft into my daily grind in, as my friend calls them, the “word mines.” I was particularly intrigued, therefore, when I came across a post titled What Kind of Brand Journalist Are You? and – more specifically – this description of what the post’s author calls “The Storyteller:”
Your Job: As a storyteller, you bring readers on a journey. You share powerful moments, capture compelling anecdotes, and introduce readers to inspiring characters. Your approach to writing is deeply human, and your articles help convey the values and beliefs of the brand you work for.
Your Articles: As a cupcake storyteller, you get to publish pieces such as: “How a Cupcake Helped One Man Overcome Tragedy,” “The Little Bakery That Could,” or “Why We Aired That Commercial Last Night.”
Your Specialties: You make people feel. Through your writing, you have a knack for capturing ordinary moments in extraordinary ways and connecting with people on a human level. Your style has personality, and you turn almost anything into a great story.
I am only just beginning to explore this avenue for my professional writing, but the above description fits the column writing I love to do more or less to a “T.” If this seems to be of interest, I’ll continue to update you on what I learn. Meanwhile, if anyone has experience in this field, I’d love to hear your story.
What I’m Reading:
I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I’m more than halfway through Mia March’s novel, Finding Colin Firth. This is another pick for the book club my friend recently started. Like the detective story/police procedural that was our first read, Finding Colin Firth is not a book I would have picked up on my own. Once again, however, I’m kind of enjoying this foray into unfamiliar territory.
Finding Colin Firth is, as you might guess by the title, a fairly light read; but it seems that a light read is exactly what the doctor ordered. As the dust settles from my move (both metaphorically and literally … lots of cleaning to do today), I’m taking great comfort in reading this decidedly chick-lit story about three women who have come to a small Maine town for different reasons. Though I’m sure I could happily curl up on the couch or a beach chair and read the entire novel in one sitting, it has been almost equally enjoyable to consume it in small bites as I munch my morning toast, wait in the pick-up line at my daughter’s school, or catch a few pages at the very end of my day just before I fall asleep.
I look forward to discussing the story with friends at next Thursday’s book club meeting, a gathering which we recently decided would feature primarily liquid sustenance. Wish me luck!
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- How To Make Thousands From Your Writing, Using A Weird Pricing Technique by Tom Morkes via @writetodone
- How to hack your best intentions so they actually happen by @PeterShallard
- Ditch The Niche: Why Your Blog Doesn’t Need A Specific Topic To Be Successful by @jesslaw via @diywriter
- The Re-Enchantment of the Soul by Gary Hart
- The Universe is Self-Ordering by @SPressfield
- How to Find Your Muse – and Fire Her by Daryl Rothman via @MenWithPens
- This New Emoticon Perfectly Explains All Your Feelings by @maddiecrum
- Author Platform – Here’s What All the Fuss is About by @brooke_warner via @thewritelife
- The Unglamorous Road to Publication by Sheana Ochoa by Zetta Brown via @shewritesdotcom
- What tools did famous authors use to write their popular books? via @bookbaby
Finally, a quote for the week:
Hat tip to my friend and fellow writer, @AbbyKerr, for this find:
As always, thanks for being here to share part of your weekend with me. To those of you celebrating it, enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend. Remember to play like a kid and then go back to your desk (or chair or treehouse) and write all about it.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.