Pen Peace

Power of the Pen. That’s what it was called when I was elementary, middle school. It’s what the artistic kids did. They wrote poems. With verses and rhymes and words I never tried to write but knew from greedily reading books.

That was before I decided to be a writer. That was when I didn’t believe in myself. I mean, I believed in myself to finish my homework and get up at 6:20 am and never skip swimming practice. But I strongly disbelieved that I am artistic. It wasn’t natural. Nothing was natural. Except following the rules, making others think well of me, hiding my badness.

Power of the pen

And I’m here with my wooden Hiram College Alpha Society pen (obtained by following the rules) writing in my friend-made journal. I drew an identifiable mermaid and wrote my name across two pages and recorded how to become a peaceful person. This pen is POWER, I think, and it takes me back.

Those artistic kids knew it in seventh grade. They knew they were created to create.

I know it now. But the same thing stops me from creating. I live conflict. There’s no peace in my nature. I thrive on the conflict and I forget my purpose, my peace. I chase myself and fall. So that record of what it means to be peaceful is the point. Without it, I’m chasing others’ thoughts of me.

***
Peace

Humility.

Self-control.

Steadfastness.

Patience.

Grace.

***

When I choose peace, I face my ugliness. I give up control. I strive for pure motive. I wait. I look to forgiveness from the all-time-forgiver who gives me more and more and more.

And I can create. I claim that graceful (not the type of movement but the unconditional kindness) power.

I haven’t written for months because I’ve been choosing miserable conflict. In this small moment I choose humility and self-control. Peace. Creation. I hope for more.

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Why I Write

I write to communicate.

I write to glorify my Creator.

I write because people tell me I’m good at it.

I write to use my gifts.

I write because I love to read.

I write to relate to people.

I write because I value vulnerability.

I write because it forces me to learn.

I write because I’m analytical.

I write because it gives me time to think.

I write because, “It is true I do not speak as well as I can think. But that is true of most people, as nearly as I can tell” (The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver).

I write to create art.

I write to reflect beauty.

I write to find Truth.

I write to be transformed.

***

What do you do to create?

Cross-Cultural Communication: A Writer’s Secret to Success

“Excellent communication skills.” It’s a phrase we see in job descriptions all the time. As a writer, I glaze over it, thinking, “I can pass as a good communicator. I’m an introvert, but my writing is where it’s at!”

Shopping in Lucknow

Photo credit: Lindsey Mellgren

The common phrase has come back to me, though, asked me to really work on my communication. And I realized – there’s much more to it than being able to say what you want to say.

When I first drafted this post, I’d been living in India for two months. I survived there knowing only English, but the new culture required new phrases, words, gestures, manners and tones than I would use in the U.S. Some might call them linguistically improper, wordy and indirect.

And those condemnations would be well-deserved – if I was communicating with Western culture.

Writers have a difficult task; they have to write content that affects multiple types of personalities. Every one has different goals, preferences and tendencies. How can you create writing, whether it’s a novel or a tweet, that reaches multitudes while maintaining personal connection? I found the answers in the place so many questions are asked:

1. Identify the real need.

2. Stay positive. Don’t exclude groups.

3. Go out of your way to be accessible.

So when it comes to building excellent communication skills, don’t brush it off. Create goals. Get the right attitude. And start communicating.

Why Copywriting is More than Just a Boring Marketing Job

Content Marketing

When my time as an English major ended and I entered the professional world last May, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I applied for an online copywriting job simply because my writing skills qualified me and the company was located near my home. I played it up as a great opportunity. But I was secretly grateful the job was just an internship. I could try something else (what, I still don’t know) in case copywriting turned out to be like it sounded — one-dimensional and painfully boring.

MARKETING: ENEMY NUMBER ONE

For most of my college career, I dreamed of a glamorous life in the publishing world as a book editor. I dismissed marketing and advertising as an industry for underachievers. I wanted to publish words that artfully communicated truth. Marketing would be a cop-out option with its attempts to persuade people with petty, manipulative slogans.

I quickly realized, however, that I had no connections to get me into the quickly-shrinking publishing field. When I heard that I landed a copywriting internship, I was thrilled to simply have a job. Nevermind the fact that it was at at an online marketing company.

I kept an open mind as I started working, and I realized the benefits of copywriting and content marketing:

  • I wrote all day, every day, which forced me to improve my sentence structure and idea conceptualization more than I ever did in my undergraduate career.
  • To write about something, you have to deeply understand it. I learned about topics that I would never research on my own, from information technology to fashion design to video production to air guns.
  • Most importantly, I found out why my skills are needed. Businesses need their ideas spread, and content marketing is the hottest way to do it. Writers help the world communicate ideas and build relationships.

I FOUND LOVE IN A HOPELESS…MARKETING COMPANY?

What I didn’t realize about marketing for most of my life is this: it can be truthful and artistic. One of my strongest desires in life is to build meaningful relationships. Who would have thought I could do it with a marketing job? My blog posts spark new ideas, my Web pages improve user experiences and my social media posts encourage interaction.

And I don’t have to be manipulative or boring. The more creative and true my writing, the more effective the marketing. My writing and communication skills are desperately needed in the content marketing world, and I get to facilitate relationships while using my greatest talents. Far from the slow death I expected to experience in marketing, I am more motivated than ever to write creatively and purposefully.

***

“DigitalRalph.” content-marketing-word-cloudFlickr. 14 Mar 2013.

“You Can Make Anything by Writing”

“You can make anything by writing,” read the tweet. I can tell you the exact words because I retweeted it, permanently storing it in my Twitter archive. The C.S. Lewis quote is now half of a scroll down on my Twitter profile, standing out from the others as a Retweet with it’s top right corner marked green. “You can make anything by writing.” It’s one of those inherently quotable sentences. A statement so profound, it’s easy to believe without a second thought. The type of quote that’s just asking to be shared.

But as my finger hovered over the retweet option and I finished reading the quote a second time, I caught myself. Didn’t all of those undergrad English classes teach me to not use generalizations as arguments? I obviously couldn’t make anything by writing, right? Or could I?

A RETWEET

Writing can make anything.Instead of sharing the quote, I clicked to view other users’ replies to the quote. I wanted to see how many people had fallen to sharing the seductive quote. The second reply was a retweet with a personal message inserted: “You can BREAK anything by writing.” My pessimistic tendencies led me to think that generalization could be true. You can tear things apart with writing. A writer can convince himself to believe lies by putting them into writing. Doubts surface in the mind, and by writing them down, both writer and reader begin to believe them. Truthful thoughts are forgotten, broken by the accumulation of ideas inside our minds.

But the breaking doesn’t always have to happen to truthful thoughts. Writing can use truth to break down lies. Truth occasionally surfaces, and by putting it into words, we start to believe it against lies. As lies fall apart in the mind, truth is made. So Lewis was right. Both truth and lie could be created by writing. At that moment, I hit Retweet.

A DECONSTRUCTION

But how can writing be more powerful than truth? How can it break down truth simply by putting lies into words?

Is the statement a warning, rather than the encouragement for overwhelmed writers I first assumed it to be?

From my brief introduction to the theory in college, I know that deconstruction breaks down ideas to find meaning. In fact, the reply to Lewis’ statement exemplifies a deconstruction technique — presenting an opposing idea as a means of understanding. Lewis’ and the retweeter’s statements, while opposites, originate from the belief that writing creates meaning, either by affirming or denying an idea.

A POWER

There is no logical correlation between putting a thought into writing and the thought coming into existence. I could write that I love vegetables. People would know it because they read it. But if I hadn’t written the idea, it would not have existed to the readers. The illogical part comes when readers interpret reality based on writing. Something that is written, a composed and concrete thought, is assumed to be true. I actually hate vegetables, yet, for readers, I created the idea that I love vegetables. By writing it.

So, while writing does not own this power, people give it the influence to make or break ideas. Readers don’t have to believe writing as truth, but many do. Therefore, writers must be cautious with the illogical power of writing.

In a recent  New York Times Opinionator post, Verlyn Klinkenborg labels most of our written sentences as “crippling inertia” because of the permanence we grant to anything written. Writers find it difficult to detach themselves from something they wrote, and unless they know otherwise, readers have few reasons to not believe what’s put into writing.

In attempt to promote education and truth, writers should only write what they know to be true. And they should write it in an accurate, effective way for their audiences. I can make anything by writing, C.S. Lewis. But I don’t want to make anything. I want to make truth. Writing so others understand what I know to be true can make truth through the inherent and illogical power of writing.

***

Fernandez, Rica G. (ricagfernandez). “You can BREAK anything by writing. #RMFernandez RT @CSLewisDaily: You can make anything by writing. #CSLewis” 5 Dec. 2012, 4:43 a.m. Tweet.

Kline, Mike “Dakinewavamon.” Writing and Driving. Flickr. Web. 8 Dec. 2012.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. “Where Do Sentences Come From?” The New York Times Opinionator. The New York Times Co., 13 Aug., 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

Lewis, C.S. (cslewisdaily). “You can make anything by writing. #CSLewis.” 5 Dec. 2012, 4:40 a.m. Tweet.