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February 25, 2010

Legal Graffiti.

So I'm at it again.

This time I'm at 33k feet just over Hudson Bay on my way to San Francisco. It's taken me 4.5 hours to get this far and 4.5 hours to fire up the MacBook Pro to write something. Truth is, Virgin have some good movies on at the moment!

Writing came second.


Click here to enlarge

It always has, that's because I'm not very good at it. Or at least I thought I wasn't, maybe I'm not, but now I enjoy it. The truth is saying your bad at writing is a cop out - we all have a good story to tell, a lesson to teach or a thought to share, let alone a shoulder to offer - and sharing should be an enjoyment.

Writing has never been my strong point, it's not that I didn't want to it's just that English, in the written word, does not come naturally to me. At school I devoured English literature, being forced to read the classics such as Chaucer, Milton and of course Shakespeare was not a chore. Writing about them was.

Most of the time I was chastised for "getting it wrong" (public school can sometimes be a poor teacher). Therefore, I carried the "scar" of writing chastity into adulthood - and I'm not sure I'm alone there.

In this world of online, being able to write is very important, if you don't then no-one will know you or your thoughts. No one will be able to benefit from your expertise. No one will benefit from you.

And we need to. We need you to lead us.

Being chastised by the thoughts of "I have bad English" or "I don't know what to write about'' is silly - really. Spell check and grammar check will take care of the former (even if it is Microsoft English), but it's the latter that I want to talk about.

Don't get me wrong story telling is not easy, but then again anything creative is not easy. There are many ways of writing styles and many different ways of getting your message, question, or information across. However, I always favoured getting my message across using something around me that most of us will know and see/undersatand and "weave" it into a story.

Take for example "The Whitby Goth Festival". Last year Vanessa and I spent the day in Whitby (North Yorkshire) and managed to "blunder" our way into The Goth festival (well it was Halloween). What a brilliant day, Victoriana in it's finest.

My point is this. The Whitby Goth Festival has been running for 18 years now and is one of the finest examples of a "social network" you could ever find. So all I did was take the "whim and Fancy" of the festival and turn it into a story about the importance of a social network. More importantly why we all need them and use them all the time every time.

We all herd, we all like to be part of a group, whether that be "Goth", "LinkedIn", Ecademy" or a social forum - it could even be the local pub, but we all do it. The Goth festival, to me, was an opportunity to express that need to exist in a social group.

Here's another example: I wanted to express my views on how to use, and not, the social web. So I chose Peter Andre and Katie Price (Jordan). Quite easy really she was me, me, me and he was share, share, share, it was obvious by their twitter pages.

So by taking a contemporary story I managed to "weave" another message about my views on the social web.

But don't get me wrong, I don't know if what I'm doing is right, I just know it helps me get over the barrier of "I don't know what to write" or in what manner.

I think all of us know what we want to write, I think some of the problems lay in not knowing how to express ourselves.

OK so try this one on then.

My background is in Art. I trained in it for 5 years, being qualified in fashion design at the end (OK so I didn't want to be a fashion designer, it was the design aspect that got me - ironically enough I ended up designing racing cars for quite a few years and the discipline/s between the two are very close) I digress.

Part of my training was in "life drawing" and, for this discipline, "still life drawing". I had a fantastic teacher, Philip Graves-Morris, and one of his methods was to take something like a red cabbage, wrap it in newspaper and "throw it against a wall". Paint that, as it lay, as it tumbled.



In other words what we we're painting was not contrived, it was unexpected and you had no pre conceived idea how to do it or what the outcome might be.

For me, in writing, this training has been invaluable. No, I don't throw cabbages around, but metaphorically I do. Both the Goth festival and the twitter story were "red cabbages".

I could have chosen to write about "social groups" or "the social web" in a formal manner. But formal has no "purple cow" as Seth Godin would say.

The correct structure of the written word still eludes me, I have no skill in that department (praise be to speel chock:)). What I do know is, whilst dealing with the social web what and how we write dictate who we are. Some people get anxious, some people panic - you don't need to, not all of us we're born Oscar Wilde. Some people have to write in a formal manner (dissertation) and that's OK, but for those of you out there who do get anxious, try a different way.

I can write but I'll never be Hemingway, I can paint but I'll never be Warhol - but I will never stop trying, I will never stop testing - and you shouldn't either. For those of you who feel chastised when blogging, and in the immortal words of Monty Python, "stop that it's silly".

Writing is like painting, we can all use a pen or a keyboard or even a brush, but good writing takes practise, no different to painting.

Try taking your idea wrapping it up, throwing it against a wall and write about it as it lay. Guess what, some of what you do will end up being a "dogs dinner", but hey you should have seen my paintings! Who cares every now and again something great will come out, and that something great will gain you experience.

I know some of what I say goes against the "plan, plan, plan" method of writing and I'm sure there are better skilled people out there that can advise on writing way better than me and you should listen to them. Structure and planning is good, it works - but sometimes that little maverick streak that we all have should shine.

After all we all have something we believe in and I want to read it.

Regards N

 

   


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