Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A word to writers.

When I was a kid I was a moderately proficient baseball player. I wasn't much of a fielder, but I was a good hitter. However, my most outstanding asset was my strong and resilient arm.

From the outfield I would routinely strike down opponents looking to take an extra base. And from the pitcher's mound, I could throw inning after inning to good effect.

There's no secret to strengthening your throwing arm. What you have to do, simply, is throw. Throw and throw and throw. Practice after practice. 

Throw easy mostly, saving the pop in your arm for just a few throws. But mostly throw and throw and throw. And before you know it, your wing is long and striate, your muscles remember the motion and don't let you down.

It's not unusual for people to come to me and ask me to "mentor" young writers. I'm all for that. I'm all ears and all hours. Anything to help.

But those same young writers will get more help if they emulated a decent high school pitcher from the early 70s. As I threw, so should you write.

Make everything you write, from a tweet, to an email to a note to your spouse, worth being read. And more, write incessantly. Write and write and write.

Most writers in ad agencies write about once every decade or so. 

If you want to write well, write often.

Start a journal.

Start a blog.

Or just fill a notebook.

Oh. And the best books to read are not "how to's." 

They're the books of writers you like to read. 

If you read Ad Aged with any regularity, you know whom I admire.

A.J. Liebling. Joseph Mitchell. DDB's VW ads. Anything Ed McCable ever wrote. And book reviews from "The New York Times" and if you can stomach their retrograde politics, "The Wall Street Journal."

I suppose a few writers are born.

But most, including myself, are made.


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Kirkistan said...

George, as the owner of an even more widely ignored blog (in reference to your other post today), I get a lot of crazy spam just like you. I like your advice to writers and practice it myself, but one thing I would add is to give up on the notion of fame and instead focus on clarity. You do this well in Ad Aged. Fame is fleeting, but clarity has staying power.