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On writing and courage :: Confessions of a Dirty Blonde

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Becky shared a badass image on Facebook earlier this week. And it couldn’t have come to me at a better time. Funny how the world seems to give you what you need, if you’re looking in the right places.

It was this:

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The day before, I was at a graduation party for one of the girls I coached. Truth be told, a lot of questions surround my departure from my previous job. Some still remain unanswered for multiple reasons, but mostly because there’s no sense explaining what some will never understand.

A former co-worker was at the party and was surprised to see me. Some of the girls who were on my team mentioned he’d pointed in my direction and said my name while talking to students I didn’t know.

“Capo,” they said, “are you friends with him? He keeps looking at you and pointing.”

But he never came to see me. Never asked a question. Never called when things were weird.

When he was leaving, a student nearby stopped him where I was standing, forcing a conversation.

“Oh my god. I didn’t see you there,” he said. “I’m just so glad things worked out for you, you know, for the best.”

Then he went on to explain all of the great things he was doing, waiting for me to act interested. I didn’t. Because I am not fake.

Here’s the thing:

It takes courage to stand in front of a person or group who want to bring you down. To speak of things we don’t normally, well, it’s ballsy. And sometimes it’s misunderstood. So we fear it. We avoid it. We label it as inappropriate.

But just because somebody, maybe even a group of people, think something is wrong with that doesn’t mean it’s true. It doesn’t mean their opinions will change my actions – or yours.

As a writer, as someone with a unique story to tell, you get to decide which opinions matter. It’s scary. It’s hard to think about negative people and their hatred. Shit, it downright sucks sometimes. Especially when people who are supposed to be your friends are the first to fire on you.

But that isn’t the point.

Courage comes when we tell our stories without flinching.

We know adversity surrounds us, yet we go for it anyway. And just when you question why you’ve said it, somebody comes forward and thanks you.

And that’s when you know it’s worth it.

As Beck says, “Nobody can tell your story like you,” and I think it’s time we all bury that in our hearts and remember why we’re here.

I believe speaking out is one of the biggest munitions we have.

The game changers, the rule-breakers, they all started with a voice as big as yours. It’s time to be a little more courageous.

Write raw. Write from your heart and know you did it with purpose and passion. That way, when haters show up at your doorstep and ask you how you’re doing, their inability to be genuine won’t control your emotions.

And you’ll keep writing anyway.

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Got writing questions for Capo? Email capo@rebeccatdickson.com. Confessions of a Dirty Blonde goes out every Thursday.

Write better in four steps

Want to be taken seriously? Improve your writing skills – and social media presence – in four manageable steps.

Believe it or not, my clients’ expertise doesn’t end at fiction. Many of the writers I work with are professionals who need help with work-specific content for books, blogs and business material. They understand their writing is sub-par, yet they don’t know how to fix it. The inevitable – embarrassing – moment follows.

Mistakes in their posts.

On a much larger scale than a resume, your writing serves as an advertisement for your business. Your goal is to turn readers into raving fans. So how can you, a person without an English or marketing degree, get potential supporters to come back each time you publish?

Improve your writing.

Read

If you’re interested in writing better, read more. If you’re writing in a specific content area or genre, find out who does it best and read their work. If you don’t have time for books, wrap your brain around as many articles and blog posts as you can. Emails from supervisors and mentors, as well as people who focus on good content, count too.

Limited time is not an excuse when you’re trying to improve yourself. You can read articles at lunch or while you’re drinking your morning coffee. You can come up with a million reasons you don’t have time and I’ll continue telling you the same thing.

Tweet

If you argue with yourself about having the time to read, what makes you think your audience isn’t having the same conversation? If you respect your audience’s time as much as your own, you won’t write wordy content.

Twitter’s popularity is proof people want the meat of the message immediately. They don’t want to dig around and search. They want to know what they’re getting into. That’s not to say you can’t write complex sentences. But if you’re writing additional clauses, descriptions or adverbs, well…you’ll be more successful if you don’t.

Practicing on Twitter helps you become more concise. You can throw your pity-party and argue this isn’t true or that it’s unfair. But while you’re stomping, you’re losing readership.

Edit

Dump the words into your first draft and sift through them during revision. This helps with brevity. And typos. Editing is necessary, even for experienced writers. Duh. Why else would people hire me?

If writing is a reflection of thinking, you want people to see you as intelligent, straightforward and convincing.

Repeat

Practice is key. The more you read, write and edit, the better you’ll become. One round of practice doesn’t make you an expert, so keep at it. Every day. I know I’ve mentioned Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule before, but it’s important enough to repeat. Not only will writing more help you get better, but you’ll build your fan base by publishing content on your site and social media.

Using these four steps helps build your audience and improve your writing at the same time. WIN.

• • •

On Thursday (July 24, 2014) at 7 p.m. EST, I’ll be talking about writer’s block, getting the words out, giving fear the finger and a metric ton of other writerly things.

Signup here –> http://rebeccatdickson.com/webinar <– for details and to submit your questions. The doors close after the first 100 people. (I don’t make these rules. The software company does.) So please signup early to make sure you’re in.

I’m excited to finally talk to all of you LIVE.

P.P.S. Can’t make it live? Signup and we’ll send you the recording. :)

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