Writing cautiously blows

June 10, 2010

There are those who write cautiously on the web and those who don’t. What’s your style? I try to write what I’m thinking and write it like I’d say it if I was sitting around having coffee with you. Sometimes wine : )

Saying “what I’m thinking” can often be confused with bluntness. (Let’s just say my 360s always said “can be blunt.” )

Blunt is not cautious. (I guess it could be if you were super diplomatic.) And blunt, when presented as a negative attribute,  always made me mutter to myself (1) don’t ask me your god damn opinion if you don’t want to know or (2) grow a pair, a spine or, at the very least, some elephant skin.

Now when I say cautious writing, I’m referring to the dictionary meaning: a reluctance to speak freely in anticipation of some future event.

My favorite writers are those that approach a subject without fear of the future. Liz Strauss, in an older article said,

“To write with an authentic voice I had to learn to let go of what people might think of my truth or of my saying it. Authenticity is risk-taking with a marvelous reward.”

For the past several weeks I’ve found it difficult NOT to write cautiously. Difficult NOT to fear the future. Difficult  to write what I feel without wondering what others will think. That mindset for writing sucks. Big time.

The cautiousness I’m feeling I let build up over time. I realized after spending much of 2009 having the control tweezers pluck the strands of creativeness out of me one fucking check box at a time, I had become reluctant, resentful, and downtrodden. Not a good state for creativeness and innovation.

I started to think “if I write this then this might happen.”  Yup, it was time to give myself a good slap up side the head. The results…


  • reading cage-shaking books to get back on the edge
  • making room for some more “focus” time in my schedule by shutting off my presence indicators more often
  • partnering only with cool people, companies, and other creatives
  • bitch slapping my anger into a box and making shipping labels with ATTN: ASSHOLE on them (which I’ll never send of course)
  • spending more time in nature…(BTW…my garden looks awesome)
  • getting more sleep
  • contemplating doing “no way” stuff like learning how to (1) bowl or (2) raise chickens (because my son wants to do those things).

These are some of the things that are getting me into a beautiful flow state on a current writing project.

Hopefully I’ll rediscover my non-cautious, creative writing mojo soon. I may have just done that and am glad because frankly, writing here is actually a pretty cheap form of therapy that results in the need for less shipping labels.

  • http://twitter.com/pipwerks Philip Hutchison

    yes! esp to this:

    (1) don’t ask me your god damn opinion if you don’t want to know or (2) grow a pair, a spine or, at the very least, some elephant skin.

  • Cathy Moore

    Chickens! Chickens will do it. I had ducks and they were cool, too. Chickens chickens chickens.

  • Koreen Olbrish

    This is so right, I'm just gonna have to respond on my blog 🙂 Srsly, thanks for this–and chickens?? LOL

  • http://www.xyleme.com/blog Dawn Poulos

    Janet, love the fact that you can say bitch, fucking, shit and ASSHOLE all in one post and still come out sounding so lovable. I'm with you, but let me add something. Throw caution into the wind when it comes to writing, but not in backing up what you have to say. I enjoy immensely when people get pissed off by one of my posts because it usually ends up sparking a great ensuing conversation. But I'd argue that it's only because I try to back up my blunt, provacative, controversial (whatever) assertions with facts and research. If you can't do that, you may have thrown caution into the wind, but what good does that do you if you come off sounding like a – throwing caution into wind here – dipshit. Btw, garden does look awesome – saw it on FB.

  • http://janetclarey.com/ jclarey

    So true! I enjoy the type off healthy conversation that ensues when you write something provocative and have the courage, conviction, and knowledge to actually make it a debate. I almost want to ask you for a LinkedIn recommendation: “Janet can write bitch, fucking, shit and ASSHOLE all in one post and still come out sounding lovable.” I'd be an employer's dream!

  • http://janetclarey.com/ jclarey

    Just this morning…making an omelet and needed another egg…my son said, “see if we had chickens you could have a fresh egg *every* morning.” Then I ate my (small) omelet and read news thinking the chickens aren't such a bad idea. Seriously, my concerns are keeping them semi-contained vs letting them wander. I don't want to tick off neighbors or have my garden ripped up but want them to be free. I need to do some chicken research…

  • http://janetclarey.com/ jclarey

    You're welcome fellow blunt talker. Chickens. I know right?

  • Karen

    Janet – nice to see you haven't changed any in the past few years! :o)

  • http://janetclarey.com/ jclarey

    A lot can be said of consistency…

  • T Mike Taylor

    Here, here Janet!! Very well said…especially the part about people asking for your opinion and then not liking what they get. They always leave off the part on the end that goes “…but only if you agree with me.”

  • http://twitter.com/Oshkoshtash Tasha

    I'm glad someone understands. Great post!! 🙂

  • Jillian

    Very well said. In my short life, I've always seemed to struggle with being authentic, genuine and honest with being personable, likeable and friendly – in my mind, these should all come wrapped in the same package… but society most often says otherwise!

  • http://twitter.com/iliveisl Ener Hax

    thanks to you i threw out my filter and my blog traffic has gone through the roof (well, from 800 to 3000 a day)

    life is too short to be just writing what you think others want to hear or what is proper (doubly tough when you are from a country who still has a Queen as the head of state)

    writing from the heart, writing as just a person (and not a self-proclaimed wannabe guru), truly believing that your thoughts may be of some guidance to another are the tenants i blog by

    a big part of that is the filter and, as you post here, writing cautiously is about as valuable as not writing at all!

    good luck from your pink haired avatar friend (not the pink haired one from your poster though =p

  • lizstrauss

    Thank you for making my voice part of this! I'm delighted to be here and with you!

    We all can use this reminder. Looks to me like your mojo is coming back to you. 🙂

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  • bobkrell

    Presenting Cautiously ALSO blows! After 20 years of presenting live and writing for industry publications, conference proceedings, etc., I pride myself in making the “sacred cows” a little nervous whenever I take the stage. Providing “filtered” content is great for drinking water, but it will never get you noticed when you're trying to present information and/or your viewpoint to an audience. Great article, Janet!

  • http://janetclarey.com/ jclarey

    Having met you face-to-face, I'm not at all surprised that you make the sacred cows a bit nervous on stage : )
    I totally agree…presenting cautiously indeed blows.

  • http://www.learnstreaming.com Dennis Callahan

    This was a refreshing post that got right to the point. Nice job.

    I find it far more effective and trustworthy when people are blunt or direct rather than cautiously stepping around the real issue. It saves so much time and energy and I try to encourage others to be the same way.

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