July 5, 2008

Learning When To Speak

Posted in Life tagged , , , at 2:34 pm by Andrew McMillen

You’ve noticed that lately, I’ve been writing once a week, if that.

I read a variety of sources most days, but it takes something special to inspire me to respond in my own words.

Often, I feel that I don’t know enough about a subject to comment. This is less a fear of failure than an internal quality control, which I referred to when discussing my music writing.

Having spent several years wrestling with words, concepts and emotions in a private journal, I’ve started to learn when to speak publicly. But I’m still learning.

The polar approach is to open my mouth and speak about everything that I come across, like the wide-eyed teenager that I used to be. Everything that comes to mind. That drunk guy who I conversed with late last night while waiting for my train home. The costs and benefits of the brand of washing liquid that I use.

I don’t, though. I alternate between the mindsets. Open versus closed. I know intuitively which of those strategies is bound for success.

Umair Haque:

The converse is: you only have to close when your DNA isn’t quite there yet; when the way you manage things still kind of sucks.

Maybe that it’s it. The way I manage things – my thoughts, my ideas, my words – still kind of sucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with sucking, as long as sucking is a means to an end.

Some days I’d like to spend a thousand words analysing a minuscule, inconsequential interaction. Or discuss the way that crowds tend to wait near the top of the stairs at a railway station, while the length of the platform remains largely unused. Some kind of public transport normal distribution comparison.

Maybe my quality control is set too high. Maybe I should be throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. I tried that with my Customer, Serviced posts, which I soon lost interest in.

That’s the Long Tail theory, right? Instead of publishing a few precious – ‘quality’ – ideas, put it all out there, and I’ll find demand that I hadn’t anticipated.

We’ll see. Until I better self-manage, I’m inclined to keep my mouth shut.

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