About Writing About Writing
WHEREIN THE AUTHOR LOOKS AT THE GROWING WRITER'S COMMUNITY ON BEBEE AND ASKS WHY SO MANY SEEM COMPELLED TO TELL OTHERS HOW TO WRITE...
Preface: Between the time I started writing this post and the time I finished it, Alexa Steele published "How to be a better writer by ignoring writing advice". And while I did not use her post for "inspiration", I am exceedingly sympathetic to her general thesis and would feel remiss not to refer you to it here. Well done, Alexa.
There is little doubt that a community of writers is burgeoning on beBee. Not just a group of people who write and publish on social media, but a genuine community interested in interacting and honing their craft.
The skill levels of members of the beBee writer's community range from neophyte to expert, from raw wannabees to a sprinkling of pros. Journalists, essayists, bloggers, poets, and novelists. Expository and creative. The entire enchilada.
Which is good for beBee and the rest of us. For it brings to the platform a broad range of topics about which to read and discuss, not to mention a rich diversity of genres and styles to keep things interesting and stimulate thought.
That said, I've noticed lately that quite a few of those who write on beBee appear compelled to write about writing. That is, to tell, demonstrate for, or instruct others in how to write.
I for one am not sure what to make of this marked propensity. For historically, writers spend most of their time writing and not coaching others on how to write.
Indeed, in my experience, even writers and novelists whom I've known over the years and who, for whatever reasons, accepted short-term appointments at colleges or universities as authors-in-residence, were not overly comfortable with coaching others in how to write.
For the most part, I personally avoid telling others how to write because I believe that each of us must find his or her own style and voice. Plus, I've never been that sure about what qualifies one to call him- or herself a "writer". Not to mention that it has always struck me as bordering on arrogant to offer such unsolicited advice.
I've even gone so far as to publish a piece titled Why I am NOT a Writer.
Yet, here we are with almost everybody who writes on social media in general, and on beBee in particular, telling others how to write ― or at least how to write better.
Including not only those with substantial bodies of published work, but also many neophyte authors who may have only two or three self-published pieces under their respective belts.
Nevertheless, I recognize my personal view is, in this case, purely gut-based. I also recognize that there are people from whom the rest of us can learn something about perfecting our chosen craft.
For example, there is my friend, Jim Murray, whom I consider an op/ed blogger extraordinaire, often says that he is not telling others how to write, but is only explaining how he writes. Of course, that's really a dodge. Because, in fact, Jim regularly provides neophyte writers with tips on how to write better and especially how to draw response and engagement from readers.
Then, there is Kevin Pashuk, essayist and Prairie-Culture philosopher, who admonishes us regularly not to write in order to become writers but in order to say something. As he puts it, to "... write good." Kevin and I often disagree on issues or approaches to issues, but ― and this is the most important point ― we share an unshakeable underlying mutual commitment to the importance and value of free and open discussion.
Also, Don Kerr, who recommends "mindfullness" in writing, thinking, and living. Don is an authentic Sensitive, dressed in the clothing of a hard-boiled marketing and advertising writer, whose copy often stands as a paradigm for other writers and would-be writers to study, as they seek to refine their own skills and develop their own styles and voices.
Admittedly, these three experienced, first-rate writers are my buds and cohorts in the Beezers hive and the Four Strong Winds series. So naturally, my thoughts go to them first when I consider the growing group of writers on beBee.
However, there are a number of additional writers on beBee these days who are well worth reading, and whose work is well worth studying for style and voice, including but not limited to:
Joel Anderson --- A no-nonsense, say-it-like-it-is kind of writer, who enhances the conversation with every hard-edged contribution.
Andrew Books --- Andy is a dyed-in-the-wool Wisconsin "cheese head" with an attractive Midwestern philosophy and way of speaking ... which belies his wicked sense of humor and appreciation for Mel Brooks and Groucho Marx. He's also a top-flite expository writer.
Nicole Charenet --- Has an almost impish sense of humor, if its possible to mix that with a tough literary right cross. Says it like it is, whether its politically correct or not.
Robert Cormack --- Published (published is important) novelist and a real pro, edgy in conversation, but always with flashes of insight.
Paul Croubalian --- Paul writes on a variety of social media topics and has given advice on how to write better, particularly how to write in a simpler and more understandable way.
Milos Djukic --- Milos is one of my oldest online writer-friends, and someone with whom I often disagree. But he has made a outstanding contribution to the concept of social media writing, and is a champion of of free and open expression.
Pascal Derrien --- Pascal refuses to style himself as a "writer", but in fact, he is a marvelously talented storyteller whose work resonates, nay reverberates with authenticity and grit.
Graham Edwards --- Graham has a renaissance outlook and displays serious insight into avariety of questions and topics, from the point of view of a self-admitted "contrarian".
Donna-Luisa Eversley --- A Caribbean lilt threads its beauty through both her spoken and written voices. Positive, uplifting optimism, but underneath a tough willingness to speak out against the dark side.
David Grinberg --- A public relations writing pro, always questioning and fostering open discussion.
Gerald Hecht --- Whose writing and demeanor epitomizes that of the "mad scientist", but who demonstrates brilliant flashes of insight and a deep and abiding commitment to science, intellectual honesty and academic responsibility.
Phillip Hubbell --- Justifiably or not, Phillip's writing raises inn my mind images of William Buckley's essays, polished, educated, and reminiscent of a northeastern patrician background.
Melissa Hughes --- Melissa brings insight, common sense, and positivity to the discussion, without the cloying sweetness of the unreflective yea-sayers.
Jesse Kaellis --- Jesse and I have traded verbal punches at times (big surprise), but Jesse is a skillful and gritty storyteller. Creative writing that resonates.
Randy Keho --- Acerbic wit, professional writing background, Randy's style and voice cut right through the piles of bull chips generally found on social media.
Susan Rooks --- Who, like Buster Brown, lives in a shoe, whilst being, due to her wit and good humor, the only tolerable teacher of grammar and spelling I have ever known.
Gert Scholtz --- Brings wit and intelligence to subjects of day-to-day concern, including sports.
Paul Walters --- Novelist, travel writer, raconteur. Always brings a spark of life to the publishing platform, not to mention a really winning smile.
John White--- Inc.com columnist and social media marketing maven, John's writing is the epitome of clarity. He's done more to help promote other writers than just about anyone else I know on social media.
The roughly "dirty double-dozen" word-slingers mentioned in this piece are some of my favorite writers on beBee. Because they all exude what I consider to be a key quality in writing: authenticity.
Yep, I know that's generally an amorphous concept, overused and more often a cliche than otherwise. However, in this context, I use the term as shorthand for writing about things that one knows or has experienced, or writing creatively in a voice that resonates with believability.
Such is in distinct contrast to so much of what is published on social media. You know, the articles on leadership by those who have never led even a Brownie troop. The posts on becoming a successful entrepreneur by those who have just recently embarked on the entrepreneurial journey, having found themselves unemployed. And yes, the blogs on how to be a successful writer by those who have yet to publish their third article.
My purpose in compiling the above list is not only to promote the writers involved but to provide those interested in improving their own writing with a practical way to do so. Which, I suggest, is to read some of the first-rate practitioners of the craft who have assembled in the writer's community on beBee.
My purpose is also to demonstrate --- or perhaps more accurately, to remonstrate once again on --- my pet peeve about too may people on social media believing that the conversation should always be about telling others how great they are and what a great post they've just published.
And to do so by providing you with examples of those who take the opposite approach. In particular, writers who publish interesting, often hard-edged content. And who engage in open, honest discussion.
My best to all of these writers, and to the writer's community that is growing by leaps and bounds here on beBee.
Fair winds and safe harbors --- Phil Friedman
Afterword: Please do not write to upbraid me for being selective or discriminatory. This is my personal list and is not represented to be objective or exhaustive. No doubt, there are many other writers on beBee deserving of recognition or who one would do well to read and emulate. If you feel strongly about bringing a particular writer to the attention of other writers on beBee or the platform's readership, you are welcome to mention someone (with a link to their work) in the comments section for this post. You are also welcome to comment on the post, whether you agree or disagree with the statements it contains. For conversation is what it's all about. --- PLF
Author's Notes: If you found this post interesting and worthwhile, and would like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. Better yet, elect there to follow my blog by email. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.
Should you be curious about some of my other writings, you're invited to take a look at the following from my Chicago Stories series:"Wake Up Little Susie"
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation.
In a previous life, I was formally trained as an academic philosopher and taught logic and philosophy at university.
Before writing comes thinking. ( The optional-to-read pitch) :
As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve their thought and writing, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal with disagreement.
To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult or to sit in on one of our online group sessions, email: email@example.com. I look forward to speaking with you soon.