09082013 A List of Warnings About Writing Anything


This post will be edited and reposted infrequently, both as a reminder to anyone reading and as a warning to me. Especially for those of you who might have family, friends, or enemies. (These 3 categories are often indistinguishable!)

We are all subject to fatigue, brain farts (medical terminology – sorry), inattention, sloppy thinking, etc. Mistakes will happen, words will escape our grasp, and meanings will be implied that weren’t supposed to be. 

Sometimes, even when you are willing to write perfectly, you simply lose the initiative and get lazy. Infrequently, this type of writing turns out to be the simplest possible method of expressing yourself – but you won’t recognize lazy writing as great until after you start to revise it.

Even the best writers sometimes fail at adequately expressing ideas.

Everything written can and will be taken out of context. And when you least expect it. And in the worst possible way of interpreting it. If you write a few words about why you dislike licorice, your words will be later applied to indicate that you hate small children and drink your own urine.

Sometimes, what we write is used in context and still wrongly interpreted, either through malice on the part of the reader, or through inadequate writing.

Every reader constantly has active “filters” affecting the meaning of words. Not all such filters can be avoided by stellar writing. (A crazy person can pick up your words and falsely believe that you are threatening their lives. Argument to the contrary doesn’t appease the crazy person – it only serves to amplify the belief of the paranoia.)

Continuing to attempt to explain an idea after a reader or listener has expressed hostility or less-than-gentlemanly response is a waste of time. You can’t “win” once this occurs. Stop trying.

Being right is an illusion. Just as when you were younger you falsely believed your ideas and actions to be correct, you aged and discovered that many of your ideas, actions, and beliefs were probably just dumb. This process is still going on – but you can’t see it. That’s part of the human condition.

Even on a very specific subject, people who have studied the subject exclusively their entire lives cannot agree totally. This is true with hard sciences and it is doubly true for “soft”  or subjective ideas. Someone is wrong – and usually everyone is wrong to a certain degree. Including me. And you, too.

Since everyone knows that I preach that it’s okay to change your mind if you’ve learned something new or experience something honest or new in your life… be prepared for the infinite shelf life of the modern written word. You might have espoused horrible ideas when young and later recognized the error of your ways. When you’re 35, however, don’t be surprised when a self-serving asshat uses what you once believed is current evidence of your stupidity, vileness, etc. They’ll quote you at  your worst possible moment. That you no longer believe it will be irrelevant.

Waiting until you are perfectly able to express yourself usually means you’ll never get around to it.