A Lesson in Time From William Faulkner

I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but

that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.” -The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

 

You might remember this quote from Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury when the father character gives his son a watch. It’s a powerful line, and a bit depressing, but it’s worth investigating in terms of time for the modern writer.

How often, as writers, are we able to forget about time? From time sheets to deadlines, the numbers on the clock are constantly in the back of our mind.

It’s ironic that Mr. Compson would present his son with a watch as a way to forget time. He presents time as our ultimate ruler – an entity we can not defeat. It’s a tricky opponent too. The novel is constantly jumping around in time – appearing to go fast at some points, at others slow. It’s a very realistic presentation of our own concept of time. Some occasions we would like time to speed up, others we wish time would slow down.

The text suggests that the only way we can have peace about the notion of time is to allow ourselves to forget about it every now and then.

I think acceptance is the best lesson we can learn here.  We can accept that we will never beat time; it keeps moving whether we acknowledge it or not, and we often do have to acknowledge it. We can’t stop deadlines or time sheets, but we can try to “forget” them in an effort to let go of the stress associated with these things.

All of us has a limited amount of time. When working to accomplish a goal, I think we should try not to focus on the time, which can lead to stress,  but on the ideas and the work to be done. In the end it won’t matter how much time it took – you’ll always wish it had taken less time, but as long as you are proud of your efforts and feel they are successful, the time will have been well spent.

What do you think of Faulkner’s quote on time? How do you deal with the stress associated with writing and time? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Image Credit: Chris Dlugosz

But Isn’t Writing Easy?

easy-buttonI was recently out with friends when we began talking to a new group of people. I introduced myself to a gentleman in the group and the inevitable question came up, “what do you do?”.

He had mentioned that he did something pertaining to finance or business – I can’t quite remember, but at the time I showed interest. When I explained that I’m a writer, he made a face and said, “But isn’t that easy?”.

No I didn’t meet this young lad at a Mensa meeting, or a meeting of tactful people at that, but I did begin to wonder how many people really perceive writing as “easy”.

I was an English major in college. Growing up I always loved reading and was doted on by teachers for my writing skills. Despite a natural draw to literature and the writing process, I still often loathe writing. To be honest, the writing process makes me sick sometimes – I mean actual, physical sickness. Why is this?

For me, writing is hard work! Sometimes I literally sweat while I write. Writhing to put down the right words. Face reddened. Does this happen to you as well, Mod Writer? Or should I simply consider a new anti-persperant?

I was really struggling with this whole idea when I came across this quote from Thomas Mann:

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” -Thomas Mann

Perhaps it’s normal as a writer, with our perfectionist mentality, to find writing to be a chore. To be truly pleased with our final product, we often have to reach deep down to extract our best work. It’s exhausting, and at times overwhelming, but I think that the payoff comes when we know that what’s been created has come from our own true, hard work.

Do you find writing to be easy? Have you ever had someone say something like this to you about your career? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Image Credit: Travel Blog Advice 

Don’t Expect to Write Amazing Copy Unless…

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Does it seem like everyone is writing these days? Whether someone is putting out an e-book or hyping their blog through social media, it just appears that people have something to write about.

Of course, I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Writing is therapeutic – it helps us connect more closely with our thoughts, sometimes unearthing feelings we were previously unaware we held.

But how is it that there are only a small percentage of blogs or books that really gain a following?

When I consider writing or reading a great book, blog, or piece of prose, I’m reminded of a quote from Stephen King:

You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” – Stephen King

Perhaps I’m a romantic when it comes to writing and literature, but I think this quote rings true. How can one expect to give someone an experience that they themselves have yet to encounter?

Writing is laborious, and tough at that! Hemingway likened the process to bleeding. But it’s a labor of passion, perfection, inspiration, and ultimately love.

I believe that even if you have at one point in your life felt swept away by another person’s writing, that you should do your best to frequently renew that feeling. Seek out inspiration as much as possible.

Lately my inspiration has been Margaret Atwood, specifically her work Helen of Troy does Countertop Dancing. I love the juxtaposition of a Greek Goddess working in a modern club –  feminism, mythology, psychology, and politics all manage to find their place inside this idea. I highly recommend giving it a read.

What writing has swept you off your feet lately? Share in the comments! 

Image Credit: Technapex.com 

Fair is Foul – Switching Voices for Client Work

IMAG2227-1If you are like many modern writers today, you probably find yourself switching between several client projects a day. This might be a simple task for the less dedicated, underdeveloped writer, but not you. Your painstaking attention to detail and commitment to cohesive voice forbid you from blindly bouncing about projects like some hyperactive kangaroo. Nonetheless, you are a professional and the keys must type on.

Fair is foul and foul is fair” -Macbeth, Act I scene i

This famous quote from Shakespeare’s play reminds me of the practice of writing for different clients. One minute you’re writing for “foul”, the next minute for “fair”. But unlike the play, we don’t have witches casting spells on us to switch our mindsets.  So what can we do to rinse out the “damn spot” of the projects we’ve been working on and come back fresh and in tune with the current assignment?

Take Five

Much like actors rehearsing a play, take a five or ten minute break after completing an assignment and before switching to the next. During this time, don’t stay in the same spot. Stretch your legs, walk around, step outside for some fresh air. Let yourself literally leave your work behind. Consider it “done” – even if you have more work coming for that project.

Get into Character

You’ve probably heard of the crazy lengths that some of today’s actors go to in order to “become” the character they are portraying. Consider this your time to soak up everything about the business or project for which you are writing. Just absorb the company voice by reading over its existing copy. While you’re reading, keep in mind the overall goals of the company and its audience.

Rehearse

Start tying it all together and just write out your thoughts. Consider creating an outline to help direct your thoughts into a simpler form, then expand from there. Remember, it’s just your rehearsal, the rough draft. Revision comes next.

Break a Leg

Make your final revisions and send it off to the client. If you don’t get a standing ovation, don’t worry. Plays are performed more than once, and each night is a new chance to make it the best.

 

What do you do to refocus when you switch between projects? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Once Upon an Infographic

There was a time when writers could just write, but not so for you, Mod Writer. To have the competitive edge you must be versed in technology as well; see also: SEO, content management systems, social media, and infographics.

Have you been tasked with the creation of an infographic, or are you wanting to create one for your personal blog? If you aren’t familiar with Photoshop or the like, you may want to check out these sites that allow you to easily create beautiful infographics for free.

Easel.ly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PiktoChart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infogram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visually

A Pound of Flesh for Your Article

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We are seeing a shift in the nation’s appreciation for relevant content online. New job titles are appearing in the form of “content writers”, “brand associates”, “content marketers”, and more.

It’s a celebratory time for those whose craft is word smithing. A once under appreciated talent is now being put into the spotlight as “king”. But despite an appreciation of good, cohesive copy, the work behind the results is often misunderstood or overlooked.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. -Ernest Hemingway

How deeply does this quote resonate with you, the modern writer? I find myself embodying this quote every time I sit down to write. It’s a terrible mixture of passion and torture.

My thought for you today is this: If you are writing an article that calls for a pound of your flesh, are you bleeding for it?

Image credit: Althewebmaster