Don’t be Careful

I listened to a webinar given by author Donald Miller last night. It was a talk for first time writers. He gave a lot of tips that I found very useful. Things like believe in your work, develop a work ethic, treat your writing as a business/job.

Donald Miller

One major tip I walked away with was, “Don’t be careful.”

Writing a book, writing a blog, writing an email, whatever it is that I’m working on, I find myself being very careful. In an email, it’s probably ok for me to be careful, but in creative writing I shouldn’t be. Neither should you.

Being careful means (in extreme cases) dishonest writing.  It means the writer isn’t conveying his or her conviction – the drive that makes him/her write. If a writer is too busy keeping everyone happy, s/he is going to forget to write his/her message. The writing will flop and the writer will slip into oblivion. No one will have time to read his/her nothing work.

It reminds me of an Anne Lamott quote I read recently:


“You own everything that happened to you. Tell our stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

This ties into the original statement of “don’t being careful.” I don’t need to carefully please the people who don’t deserve to be pleased. I’m really good at trying to please people. It doesn’t work well in life and it doesn’t work at all in writing. Mr. Miller even said in his talk that people pleasers make terrible writers.

A writer needs to balance empathy and the guts to offend the status quo. Empathy to give voice to the hurting people of the world, and guts to upset the oppressors. Too much empathy and the writer becomes soft to mean people. Too much offence and the writer becomes calloused to the hurting people.

Writers need to stir up some controversy if they are going to have any sort of impact on their society.

What are your thoughts? Do you disagree? If so, sorry.


Image Credit: Laura Dart

Image Credit: Karen Salmansohn

One comment

  1. Great stuff, Benjamin. Anne Lamott seems to be popping up all over my life lately. I like it. She definitely isn’t a careful writer, but it’s her honesty that makes her writing impactful. I’m really happy to watch you growing as a writer. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

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