Publish No Story Before Its Message Is Right


Color me perplexed. I’m having trouble getting a blog post right. I know what I want to say. I’ve said it a few different ways. A couple are eloquent, well-crafted. But I fear I’m in love with the sound of my own (writer’s) voice, and the message is still not quite right.

So what do I do? Post it anyway? You can tell by the gap between posts that has not happened.

No, I've come to a conclusion that applies to anything I might write — blog posts, emails, short stories or entire memoirs (not to mention novels, cookbooks, or any unpaid project that lacks an urgent deadline). This conclusion may also work for you:

IF YOU DON’T FEEL IT’S READY, 
IF YOU CAN’T QUITE MAKE IT WORK, 
WORK ON SOMETHING ELSE.

How simple is that? Back off. Write something else. Edit something you’ve already written. If you’re still not clear, try
  • discussing the topic with friends.
  • journal or free write about it.
  • read up on the topic
  • asking yourself, “What am I trying to say?”
In general, Give your problem piece space and before long, it will pop into clear focus. And if you write something else in the meantime, you'll at least have something to show for your time.

Photo credit: Ron St. Amant, shared by Creative Commons License

13 comments :

Sherrey Meyer said...

Excellent advice, Sharon!

Cate Russell-Cole said...

Well said! There needs to be more common sense like this universally used.

Amy said...

Terrific advice, Sharon! And it looks like you took it and it worked!

Karen Walker said...

Yes yes and YES!

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks for the affirmations. There's a message in everything if we take time to listen for it. Maybe I would have figured this out sooner?

Marian Beaman said...

Moving house has forced me to lay aside my memoir WIP. I have good enough taste to recognize it's not up to snuff. Not now.

Maybe when I get back to it with fresh focus I can move forward. Marinating counts as "writing" too, I suspect.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Marian, few things, short of a death in the family or life-changing illness, are as disruptive as moving. I've been in that process for over a year, and am happy to be near the end of the "coming" phase. Funny that the phrase is "coming and going", because while we were still "there" I was "going." Once we got to Austin, I switched to feeling like I was "coming" (home ─ in the most unexpected way). In general we "go" out and "come" back. So more accurately we'd say "going or coming."

When the time is write, you'll get back to it. In the meantime, I suspect you'll develop new depth and perspective.

ShirleyHS said...

Sounds like the greater part of wisdom to me, Sharon.

I'm marinating and re-purposing my work this summer. Very short posts.

Funny how something always seems to happen that gives me a reason to resurrect something I've already written or share a new post that has been stirring for a while. I'm enjoying the freedom of moving with the spirit.

When in doubt, it's better not to post at all. "No wine before its time."

livingontheedge said...

Reminds me of my response when someone asked me about my writing process.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Shirley, your comment, "No wine before its time," reminds me of my favorite version, "No WHINE before its time." Thought to ponder: Does whine belong in a memoir? Probably not. Keeping the story private while draining the whine seems like a good plan.

kathleen pooler said...

Your post makes perfect sense to me, Sharon. I call it letting the story "marinate" and I might have heard that from you way back when. Great advice!

MZ said...

Good advice, Sharon. It makes sense but on the other hand, if I always waited for perfection, I'd probably never get anything written. I guess we just need to balance it out.

Judy said...

Good advice. I'm a quilter. This advice holds true for those projects, also.