Too chicken to write?

Writing can be terrifying. It exposes you. It puts your intellect, education, personality, logic, even your family background – everything about you – on display.

Scary critter at shop outside Hill City, S.D., November 2013. (c. Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

Big chicken at shop outside Hill City, S.D., November 2013. (c. Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

No wonder so many people would rather sit in a locked outhouse full of spiders during an earthquake than write. Then along comes the boss, saying, “We need a report” or “Would you send an email?” What’s a chicken to do?

Yes, a writing chicken can simply suck it up and peck it out. But life is full of little tortures, and it doesn’t need another one. The idea is to take writing out of the list of them.

In 12 years of teaching journalism students, I’ve realized fear of writing grows from one source: lack of confidence. Writing performance improves substantially, even in just a couple of months, when the student taps into his or her inner writer, learning to trust instincts and believe in abilities.

That inner writer may have cold feet for several reasons:

  • The harsh criticism of a teacher
  • The feeling of having nothing meaningful to say
  • The suspicion of not being smart enough or good enough

See what I mean? All of these reek of battered self-confidence.

So how does a chicken writer begin to tackle More

You know you’re a grown-up when …

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© Марина Панюкова

I ran across some pearls of wisdom while cleaning out the “Documents” file on my computer. Heaven knows how old they are, what precipitated them or when I started collecting them, but they are mine.

Today I offer them to you for whatever value you may take from them.

  • Child-rearing techniques, such as correcting others’ behavior, rarely succeed with adults. (Here’s an example: When I passed through Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix on the way to my dad’s funeral, a little girl plowed right into my legs as I entered a ladies’ room. “I’m sorry,” the girl said. In my brain-fog, I just looked at her, silent. The mother snapped, “She said she’s sorry!” I replied, “My dad just died, and I’m sorry, too.” Obviously, I didn’t give the correct reply; she gave me a dirty look and stalked off.)
  • Whining makes adults seem childish. The better grown-up alternative is finding solutions to problems and applying them.
  • People are far more likely to overlook or to be unaware of your needs than to mistreat you intentionally.
  • Quit applying your personal expectations to others. Instead, actively create the opportunity for them to give you what you need. If they don’t bite, at least you tried.
  • There are times to complain publicly and times to complain privately.
  • Others’ behavior usually is not about you.
  • Work on outgrowing the need to seek validation for every little thing you consider to be a success; we sought our parents’ validation as children, but as adults we know, expect and accept our own capabilities.
  • Assumptions are the worst thing you can do to yourself.
  • Before passing judgment, consider that you truly have no idea where the other person is on life’s path.

Let’s trade: What pearls of wisdom guide you in your life? (To comment, please click on “Leave a comment” under the date next to the headline.)




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