Hey Writing Etc. Subscriber,
Turns out I stirred up a few questions after my last issue of Writing Etc. That’s fine. I adore questions.
Questions are the lifeblood of this profession. We’re the keepers of all things skeptical. We like to get to the root of any given situation. After all, unless you understand both sides of any given situation, how can you honestly write about it?
That’s what’s lacking in today’s world, IMHO: the intense desire to convert everyone to your way of thinking without understanding the other viewpoint. Just look at how polarized our nation is, it appears we’ve turned each other into caricatures rather than full fledged, living, breathing, human beings with hopes, dreams, aspirations.
And what, precisely does this have to do with you… a freelance writer?
One of the first things I learned as a rookie reporter was, “Get both sides of the story.” Sounds easy, but it’s far more difficult in practice.
That particular sentence is a big reason why when the majority people are zigging, you’ll find me zagging. It’s also why I like to hang out with people who will challenge me in every way possible. For example: when I’m told I need to vote for a particular candidate, I immediately research the opposition. If I’m told to live a certain way, I absolutely must research the folks living that certain way, I interview them, I become friends, I try to truly understand.
Group think is exceedingly dangerous and if you get too many non-dissenters in any particular group, you run the risk of mob mentality.
Creativity thrives on individuality. Sure we need groups, but when any group becomes too powerful, we’ve got new problems to deal with.
And that’s where freelancers come in. We’re writers, reporters, the scribes of our age, members of the “Brotherhood of the Pen.” It’s our task to question everything, carefully report every side of the story, always strive to uncover the truth in any given situation.
Ah, but the truth is a slippery concept. That’s why it’s so important to truly understand as much as you can about your subject, their opposition, the situation… you know… the who, what, where, when, why, and how.
And when popular opinion is very strong, we must take time to speak with those in the minority, to truly understand them, what’s going on, how and why the respond, etc.
And this is why I joined the Skeptic Ink Network.
Yes, there are dissenting voices there. Yes, some of the blogs have uncomfortable names. Yes, many of them have very strong opinions.
I’m fine with that, in fact I enjoy it immensely. The network is filled with delightful, thoughtful, intelligent people who are as kind as the day is long. Plus, it’s a fun project.
Perhaps after nearly 20 years in this profession, I’m becoming a curmudgeon. Stranger things have happened, but I truly believe there’s something seriously wrong when writers simply go with the flow of popular opinion without investigating the other side.
Sure, it’s fine to agree… but blind agreement is something that needs investigation. If the majority are zigging, it’s time to contemplate zagging. You’ll get in trouble, guaranteed. Not everyone will agree with you. You’ll definitely ruffle some feathers.
But if you want to be a freelance writer, it’s your job to investigate, ask questions, infuriate, challenge the status quo, become a target. If you think this job is warm fuzzies and accolades… you should probably write greeting cards.
So… that’s where I’m at.
Now the big question: Are you a zigger or a zagger? When’s the last time you spoke, had an honest conversation… no lectures, no high horse, no raised voice… a true “I want to understand” conversation with someone with a viewpoint contrary to your own? If it’s been a while, I’d suggest giving it a whirl. Leave your assumptions at the door, drop all opinions, sit down, grab a cuppa joe, and listen. Just listen.
You just may be surprised PLUS new writing ideas/topics will magically appear. Guaranteed.
Onward and upward!
P.S. Has your writing career taken you places you didn’t expect? This title will help you navigate unfamiliar terrain. We’re talking three volumes of hard core freelance information in one handy download. I’m humbled and appreciate your support for this project. 🙂
Writing Etc./Filbert Publishing News – October 1, 2012
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