Keep It Brief

For greatest impact, when writing a blog post:

  1. Say it simply. “Hello.”
  2. Then get out. “I must be going.”
  3. Use short sentences. “Just do it.”
  4. Keep the words to one syllable. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” – Ronald Reagan
  5. Use short, punchy sentences. “In modern war… you will die like a dog for no good reason.” – Ernest Hemingway

Maybe this is why Twitter is so fun. I have to be lean in my writing. I have to convey a lot with just a little — 140 characters.

I love Twitter. I love its brevity. I love getting to know a person just from their short status updates. The man who says good morning from Japan, the woman who lists what everyone’s reading, the writer who posts opening lines for short stories.

I like to skate on the surface and sometimes click on the link and go deeper.

But sometimes — like right now, there’s not enough time to go deep.

This photo has nothing to do with the post. I took it at Bossey Ecumenical center in Switzerland.

There’s profundity in simplicity. So keep it brief.

Hello. I must be going.

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People Like Unfinished Business

Brokenness and rawness are cool. I was reading Don Miller’s book. http://donmilleris.com/

Tom (Hazelwood) suggested I read “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing my Life.” I so loved it. I loved that Miller talked about being a fat kid. I loved that he talked about longing for a woman who did not long for him. About his shame at being a couch potato, about wanting life to be about big adventures. I loved that he admitted his  imperfections, was honest about his struggles. I loved that he talked about his dad’s beer drinking. I loved that he was funny.

I love people’s unfinished and messy business. I like reading blogs where people are working things out — like yesterday’s freshly pressed:

http://theycallmejane.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/al-and-tipper-john-and-jane-were-all-fighting-some-kind-of-battle/

I’ve noticed when I express my struggles on my Facebook status updates — like “I’m so lame I let my kids stay up too late,” or “I’m depressed so I am going to the Met” —  I get lots of feedback, discussion, thumbs up, “likes.” But when I go, “I’m awesome. I invented bike riding in New York City”? Crickets.

So long as you don’t wallow in your negativity. So long as you bring some humor to your struggle. So long as life is lived in “an atmosphere of growth.” That quote’s a paraphrase from “The Happiness Project,” another awesome memoir about trying to keep it together. But I think Gretchen Rubin could’ve been even more honest about her struggle.

Because it’s true, we’ve all got some kind of struggle, not just Tipper and Al.

People identify with lovable losers. With losers who are trying to win. We like the underdog, the schlump, the Don Miller. Maybe we identify. Or maybe we think, ‘At least, I’m not that bad.’ It can be hard to be honest, but it’s a good way to win readers’ hearts.  Maybe, like Miller, it’s a good way to write a bestseller and snatch a movie deal, “Blue Like Jazz,” too. Okay, I’m jealous.