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Today, if you aren’t writing fiction, every single word you put down has to do something for you, or have the potential to do something.
We write our diary entries in public on Facebook. We send letters to our friends on Medium. Our culture tells us that it’s somehow silly or wasteful to put words down in any form without the possibility, however slim, of achieving something grand with them. There has to be an agenda, right? “You never know.”
Because stuff can happen. You write a blog post and get a book deal. You make a joke on Twitter and someone hires you to write on a sitcom. You take a stand on LinkedIn about “values” and a big corporation appoints you their Chief Humanity Officer.
One day soon, Ken in Minnesota will demonstrate such wit and curatorial savvy on his Facebook-enabled grocery list app that Whole Foods will appoint him their “aisle ambassador.”
Every time one of us sits down to write words, anywhere, even in the description field on Instagram, deep down we’re profoundly aware of the potential and the danger of those words, even if only subconsciously. With the “right” words, a VIP in our industry might reach out and forge a career-altering connection with us. The “wrong” words, and we might become an object of national ridicule. Or a leading Republican Presidential candidate. Or both.
Why is this important? Because it’s destroying our writing.