As a creative writer, a nonfiction writer, a business writer, a blogger or any other kind of writer, we have two jobs:
To acknowledge that we’re ultimately in charge of our own writing.
To acknowledge that, despite the dizzying amount of authority the first job provides, we’re still not God.
In owning the first job, with all its perks and responsibilities, we’re set free to express our own opinions. To shrug off the chains of obvious ideologies and bigotries, and to tell outside sources to stop overtly pressuring us into writing a certain way.
That’s all awesome. But, believe it or not, so is this next part.
In owning the second job, with all its perks and responsibilities, we’re tethered down to Earth. We’re reminded that there are more subtle ideologies and bigotries that we’re chained to.
This then prompts us to consistently consider outside feedback about our writing – even if we don’t ultimately take it.
In full disclosure, this series is not meant as a social justice warrior platform. So it has nothing to do with preaching about white privilege or male privilege or straight privilege or any other such thing.
In fact, Innovative Editing would argue that language like that actually hinders a genuine writer’s ultimate job.
To talk about people as if they’re only or even mainly a set of physical traits is to put them in boxes and ascribe value based on those boxes. Which, when you think about it, is selectively sociopathic in nature.
For the record, according to Dictionary.com, the word “sociopath” means: “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”
This then begs a definitive definition of “antisocial,” which apparently means:
unwilling or unable to associate in a normal or friendly way with other people
antagonistic, hostile, or unfriendly toward others; menacing; threatening
opposed or detrimental to social order or the principles on which society is constituted
If none of that sounds pleasant, it’s because it isn’t.
Let’s repeat that.
Genuine writers aren’t sociopaths.
We’re not close-minded, anti-intellectual ego-cases who value our own right to feel, think and behave above everyone else’s.
Instead, we’re the scientists of the artistic world. We formulate theories and test them out through styles of writing, and creative and logical connections.
And once we come to logical conclusions based on the data before us, we go on to stand by our findings as honestly as we can.
Admittedly, that’s not a popular way of approaching either science or art these days. Nor is it easy.
But nobody said being a genuine writer is either. It’s just infinitely more worthwhile and fulfilling.
Life usually is infinitely more worthwhile when we step outside our echo-chambers to sort out facts from opinions as best as we can. That way, we can learn from others instead of staying stagnant or, worse, regressing.
So how does all this philosophy look when applied to reality?
It begins with being willing to learn from others.
Pretend that someone looks over your fiction, nonfiction, blogging or business writing piece, and concludes that it’s somehow offensive. Or unpolished. Or otherwise lacking.
In that case, you stop and consider that input. Maybe you ask some questions. Perhaps you even read over your piece again to specifically look for places where it does need an addition or deletion or rewrite.
There is, of course, a difference between analyzing and accepting. Being open-minded does not have to mean agreeing with everything everyone else says.
Remember that there are two parts of a genuine writer’s job. It’s a team effort between personal confidence and personal humility.
So if something seems like solid, valuable input, then accept it. And if it doesn’t, walk away, confident in your position as a genuine writer.