First of all,I am no writing expert. I am however, a lifelong student of human communication, in all it’s glory and all it’s flaws. Much of what I know about written communication, I have learned by doing it all wrong first, facing the negative results, then learning better ways.
One of my major flaws as a writer, (and as born whistle blower type) was generalizing WAY too much, WAY too often, and pissing off WAY too many people. Time and time again, reacting to one awful injustice after another, I’d leap upon my white horse (ok, white keyboard), and charge off to wake people the hell up. I have a strong and passsonate voice when I am astride my white horse, and the wrongs were so big!
But it kept back-firing, more often than not. People I thought would be glad to know about what was really going on, reacted as if I’d attacked THEM. But I hadn’t, not really. Were they nuts?
No. They weren’t. They were reacting to my generalizations that scattershot the “blame” for the situation all over them, too. The buckskhot hit every vulnerable area: for some of them, it hit the place where they knew they’d stayed silent too long. Some of it hit those who WERE working like heck to change the situation, (but not as hard, or as fast.. as “I” thought they should be!)
In any case, I pissed a lot of people off..and once that happened that’s all they could tihnk about. My orignal burning issue that I wanted tended to, more often that not was buried under the resultant “war” my generalizing tendencies had caused.
I still fall into this one now and then on the blogs, when I don’t wait until I am past the “emotionally reactive” phase I can’t seem to avoid these days.
What this taught me is this: if I have a message I really want others to hear, I need to remember who my readers are, and write in ways that will engage them, not make them want to kill me. (I don’t know how many lives a “messenger” actually has, but I am pretty sure I’ve used most of them up. 🙂
I’ve come to see the value of qualifying words, such as “many” or “most” or “some”. If I need to fling accusations or judgements about, I try to remember to paint a clear and identifiable “target picture” so the readers know for sure who my target is.
Havng been a workshop presentor/instructor for many years, I also have to reread what I write to make sure it hasn’t come across as a “lecture”, because while those don’t get me killed, they do tend to make readers slip into a como like state.
On the blogs, as a commentor, I hd to learn the hard way again..NOT to write comments in the heat of one of my famous emotional reactions. Ohh..that is so hard to do. It feels SO good to just “let fly”, from this safe, anonymous perch. (For about five minutes, till I reread what I wrote, and see the boomrang missiles heading back at me.) (Ok, on special occasions I do enjoy this too!)
Do I always remember all of this? Hell no.
But I am still “here”, which means I must have learned something along the way.