Obsessions or Passions: Which to Go for?

When writing and talking about my emerging life as a professional copywriter, with all that such a title implies, I have used the word “immersion” to describe my approach to learning all that I can of my craft. Indeed it is my approach to preparing for any piece of writing as well as to much of my personal decision-making.

Preparation

I have likened it to researching for a thesis or dissertation for a university degree. I first of all brainstorm and haphazardly handwrite any and every idea on a clean sheet of paper – the words or phrases could be in any position or direction on the page – rather like a child’s word-scramble puzzle.

Organization

Next, I build a mind-map (web-plan, diagram – whatever you wish to call it), to organize and develop my thoughts and ideas, and then I research and gather all the information that I can get my hands on, sort through and assess the material, reject or file what may not be relevant, and use what is left to compose my piece. When I have a fair draft, I cut down and refine my writing even further through editing again and again. At each stage I step back to think and let my mind do its work.

Whether I use this method for writing a paper, an article, or a blog; or whether I use it to help me make a decision about where to stay on vacation, or even to select a location and a house to live in – it’s all the same – I always investigate thoroughly. That’s the way I work.

Passions

In this new area of copywriting there is so much to learn, so much to find out about, and there are so many directions to pursue. I am retired from my previous career and I have, up to now, lived a lifetime of experiences and continuous learning. I also have a wide variety of passions and interests – including travel and photography; nutrition, health, and weight loss; child development and education; personal development and spirituality; gardening and music (of the classical genre); and – at the foundation of it all – I am an avid reader.

Knowledge

More recently, I am enjoying an ongoing love affair with my computer, the internet, and all that this wondrous new medium offers. How can one not be excited about learning when we are surrounded by, and gathering in, all those ‘waves’ whirling around us through the ether? How can one not grow, develop, and be passionately excited about all the knowledge that is at our very fingertips – the knowledge that itself grows exponentially every day?

In my previous blog posts, I have described the immersion that I mentioned in my first paragraph. I have also described the results. It sometimes feels more like drowning than immersion. Indeed, I’ve surfaced to catch my breath a few times by unsubscribing from many sites and newsletters or setting some of them aside, in order to gain some kind of control over my learning.

Discipline

But I still find it hard. As soon as I unsubscribe from one, another pops up to take its place. Each is as interesting as the one before, and each offers a slightly different view.

When will I truly become the disciplined person that I need to be in order to choose my niche, select my specialty, and decide which area of expertise to apply? And when will I ever get the hours of sleep that I should? There’s just too much going on …

Technological Paralysis

Talking of discipline, and given that this blog is addressed to web writers and internet users, a different event this week contributed to my lack of discipline. And that was the loss of my internet provision for over three days, on two separate occasions. Does anyone else get as rattled as I do over internet issues? When my children were small, I used to think that having my washing machine break down was like losing my right arm. Not any more – it’s the loss of my computer or internet that does it now!

While it shouldn’t really have affected my writing, it did affect my head. I wasted precious time phoning my provider, trying for a quick fix, when I had absolutely no control over the outcome. I even upgraded my subscription so that I could get faster service – something that should be universally available to all subscribers at any time. They blamed the weather. Well, after all, we are in Canada! I considered changing my provider – but the thought of distributing all the changes of e/addresses was daunting. However, it would probably have been quicker, in the long run, than all that waiting on hold.

  • Discipline?
  • Control issues?
  • Paralysis? Not exactly caused by analysis this time!

No matter – it seems to be fixed now.

Obsession with Excellence ( … and apostrophes)

Throughout my research and gathering of information, I have been making further observations – I am noticing something that has been an obsession for most of my life – and that is the faulty grammar, incorrect spelling, and misplaced apostrophes of the world.

As an example, for more than 35 years of my adult life I have eaten in restaurants (large, small; expensive, and cheap) and I can count on my fingers the number of menus that are written perfectly. Go and look next time you eat out! My observations have become an enduring joke in my family.

And here’s another little secret – I’ve even been known to take a felt pen to a poster and add a needed apostrophe or change an incorrect one!

I am also, sadly, finding these errors in many of the e/books that I download, and even more sadly, in many of the published books that I read. I know we all live our lives in a rush, and we don’t always have time to proof-read adequately so that our writing is flawless. But all writing should be grammatically and mechanically correct, whether it be in research papers, articles, personal or formal letters, or books of any sort; whether it be on the web and virtual, or on paper in hard copy.

Dilemma

So … hmmm, could I contribute to the excellence of writing in general by pursuing an editing and proofreading niche? Could I build a career around it? Would that be satisfying for me? What about all my other passions? As I said, correctness in writing is an obsession – but would it be enough?

In sharing my personal mania with you, I return to something that I have said before – that I have also found differences of opinion and teaching:

“Get on with it! Do something! It’ll never be perfect anyway!”

or

“Be respectful of your readers; take time to proof your writing – e/mail and internet writing are both just as important as what is written on paper.”

Also:

“Choose your niche”

or

“It’s OK to start as a generalist.”

I entitled my first blog “Rambling of a New Copywriter”, borrowing the idea from Samuel Johnson’s periodical “The Rambler”. “Musings” may have been a better word to use, because sometimes I wonder if I really have made any progress in my own deliberations. It seems I’ve hit some chords, though, according to the responses that I’ve received – and that’s good!

I have mentioned my dilemma before – more than once. Is the process working? I think perhaps I am moving closer to my solution. Can anyone shed any light for me?

Please.

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Published: May 27, 2009

1 Response to “Obsessions or Passions: Which to Go for?”

  1. Ann...Very introspective post! I enjoyed reading it. No doubt, you allude to problems that we all face in our search for personal fulfillment...a search made harder by the "gotta-have-it-now" viral world we live in. Indeed, speaking as a fellow writer, the hardest part of our job is to wear our hearts on our sleeve, and you've done it with taste and clarity. Good luck!

    John TorreMay 29, 2009 at 11:03 am


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