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The Most Important Writing Tool Ever

Look for solutions rather than excuses.

Writing tools come in all shapes and sizes. Most are practical tips or tricks that copywriters, bloggers, authors and journalists use to improve their writing skills.

Practical writing tools are the building blocks of our industry, the formula that allows us to operate within our respected niche markets.

What happens then when those tools simply fail?

It’s Going To Happen To You

Allow me to invite you into my world for a second.
Two weeks ago, my laptop died in the middle of a presentation at WordCamp Edmonton 2012. I had no option other than to wing it the rest of the way. The feedback I got was immensely helpful – most people enjoyed my talk after Mac Chernobyl far more than the scripted, tense reading of my content.
Lesson learned.

Adapt

Fast forward to this past Friday night: I’m on a ferry on my way to a conference. I’m working on a media kit, when not 5 minutes after I save a pretty solid first draft, (in Dropbox, thank Jeebuz) my machine freezes and descends into a grey purgatory-like state of nothingness, save for a flashing question mark.
I imagine the question mark saying, “Hssssss,” (because snake, obviously), “congratulations on completing your work, stupid bespectacled half-bearded nerd. As penance for your sins of embracing technology, you will now be unable to watch Prometheus in your hotel room tonight, hsssssss.”
“No!” I exclaim to the old lady sitting RIGHT BESIDE ME.
“Hssssssss, that’s right! Simple convenience is a thing of the past! Enjoy surfing Reddit on your phone until 2 a.m. HssssSSsS *cough* *hork* *cough*.

Good Writing Waits For Nothing & No One

Being a writer means you’re presented with plenty of opportunities to pack it in. Obstacles are just waiting to screw up deadlines, delete blog posts, infect key witnesses with Swine Flu and generally just mess with your timeline.
One huge obstacle we’ve all had stared straight its evil eyes is keeping your readers on their toes. It can be difficult to be interesting.
So what are you going to do about it? Give up?
Of course not. Here’s the number one rule that every writer in every discipline needs to follow:

Solutions, Not Excuses

I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Fancy little device gets the job done. I don’t get paid for the Function Blog, but I have a growing list of blog subscribers who don’t care about my failings with technology because why should they?
I do my best work whenever I’m given the opportunity to do so. If I accepted my failing grasp of modern technology and chose not to publish today’s post, then what type of precedent am I setting? How am I training myself to adapt when my feet are truly held to the fire?

It’s Your Responsibility to Deliver

Your audience cares about your work. Your readers come back every week because you deliver a helpful message, so to make an excuse, no matter what that excuse may be, is only serving you: the author. Your readers are left out in the cold without your inspiring words to shelter them, so get off your ass and find a way to write.
Whether you’re a full-time copywriter or a part-time blogger, you’re never truly writing only for yourself, are you?
Of course not. Otherwise you wouldn’t be publishing your work in newspapers, magazines or blogs.
My thumbs hurt from typing out this post, copying the links and inserting the featured image. I mean they’re stronger! Yeah, strong thumbs are good for hitch-hiking when I can’t afford to work due to a distinct lack of computer.

Solutions Are Always Available

Ask Yourself:
  • Are you going to leave your kids at school if your car is in the shop?
  • Will your class understand if you don’t show up to work because the Cloverfield monster smashed the train?
  • Will your clients still pay you if you don’t finish their project?
The only tool a writer can truly trust is their willingness to get the job done. Remember: will is different (more important) than ability.
We’ll be back on track next week with a look at the difference between being famous and infamous (also known as the focus of the post that was supposed to publish today). Please feel free to share this post with anyone who’s used to dust-ups with technology.
In the meantime, be sure to open your windows so carrier pigeons can fly into your kitchen and drop next week’s post into your cereal.

photo credit: thinredjellies via photopin cc

(P.S. SCREW YOU AUTOCORRECT.)

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