By Stefan Prokopetz
Not getting too attached
Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage ‘It’s better to make the wrong decision than no decision at all’, and in the context of embarking on a new literary voyage, not much rings truer than this.
The unknown is called the unknown for a reason and getting fixated on finding the perfect topic, the hidden story that will blow the world’s eyes wide open is a nearly impossible task. It is only when you journey down the rabbit hole that you uncover what lies beneath; it is only after you dig that you reveal whatever magic may be waiting for you.
So sit down (or don’t), pick up a pen, figuratively (I mean who isn’t using a laptop these days), and get to work. Not every word, or even every third word or eleventh, needs to be gold, but get the words down and produce something, anything that you can reflect on and perfect later. “I try to get six pages a day” advises up-and-coming author Stephen King, so maybe we mortals can strive for at least one or even half a page. Writing at its core is expression, and expressions change over time, so feel free to imagine your writing as you would your beauty, fleeting, subjective and only skin-deep. Don’t get too attached.
Research Tips and Tools
Tip of the cap to Sergey Brin and Larry Page (and the other 98,769 Alphabet employees as of December 31, 2018) for making day trips to the arcane archives obsolete. Researching nowadays can be as easy as [insert random question into Google], copy, paste, bookmark, reference, and you’re done. Though now with the secret out, even old Auntie Sally can tell you whether or not a crocodile can stick out its tongue (the answer is no), and in certain instances, nature calls for a more creative approach to ‘get the scoop’.
If you personally know an expert in the field you’re covering, call them up, if you live close to the area you’re supposedly surveying, go there and survey it, and if you happen to have inside knowledge on the topic at hand, By Jove, share your opinion with the world. All voices want and deserve to be heard; you need not rely solely on triple-verified platitudinal testimonials to make your case.
Skimming for Bullet Points and Important Details
Rather than presenting a pompous paragraph ripe with meandering metaphors, arduous allegory, and awful alliteration, let us simply state the simple, obvious, and straightforwardness of the heading once more in a format befitting its message.
● Skim for bullet points — writers flex their linguistic muscles to exhibition literary prowess, but fear not, often what you need is displayed in a bolded bullet such as this one.
● Find the important details — get in and get out, don’t get hung up searching needlessly for needles in a haystack, there are no diamonds in the ruff–not in any ruffs I’ve seen. If it ain’t in there it ain’t in there, find what you need somewhere else.
In a world of organic fish-oil smoothies and skydiving pottery seminars, who has time to read every word. Bacon! See what a mean… dismiss the irrelevant.
Learn to Discern and Dismiss Unnecessary Information
Is a zebra black with white stripes, white with black stripes or just an emo horse with daddy issues? Who knows! And who cares. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Keep in mind the mission statement of your piece and never stray from that objective on hydra-esque tangents that lead you down infinite pathways of pointlessness. If your topic is How To Write Like an Expert on a New Topic, for example, nowhere in your article should there be references to crocodiles, zebras, or hydras. Keep your writing tight like a waistline, smooth like a bassline, and always a good time for the reader and yourself. Now go write something terrible and be proud, ya big writer you!