Jim Murray

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How To Figure Out If You're a Real Writer

The Digital Sunday Faper
A lot of business coachy types will tell you that it's unhealthy to become obsessed with your work. They obviously aren't talking about writers.
Writers...I mean real writers, not just those people who have a job title called writer, or people who play around with writing for fun, or a lot of you out there who just write to fill up your content quota on LinkedIn, real writers need to be obsessed with writing.
And it's not unhealthy. In fact for some writers,(myself included), their obsession with writing is the thing that actually prevents them from becoming obsessed with other things that can really hurt them. Like booze and drugs and other extreme forms of behaviour.
I don't know many real writers. I know a few. Some of them are friends. But most of them don't really have time for friends. They barely have time for anything other than what they do. This is not a bad thing if that's what you want. But it is possible to be a high functioning writer and still have a life, a family, a couple of friends, maybe even a hobby. But for real writers, their hobby usually ends up turning into some other kind of writing.
I have been writing since I was 16 or 17. I started in the time before computers. My first typewriter was a Olivetti portable, and I was a master at applying whiteout. When I got my first IBM Selectric, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Interchangeable font balls, built-in correction ribbon, a back up key and electricity. Man, that was living. And the sound of that ball hitting the paper was like an aural aphrodisiac.
Little did I know that only a few years later, a company called Apple would change my life again, with a strange little box called a Macintosh SE-20.

Writing At The Speed of Thought. Oh Boy!

To a real writer, this mode of creativity, this ability to write closer to the speed at which the thoughts formed in your head, was a genuine narcotic. And I took full advantage of it. It was around this same time that my skills really started to mature, and every time I sat down at that computer and all the Macs that came after that, right up to the high powered Imac I am writing this on, I just let it rip.

ADD, OCD or Just Plain FUN?

At one point I I started to think I was suffering from attention deficit disorder, because I liked to write so many different types of things. But my wife told me that that would only be the case if I kept abandoning whatever I was doing to do something else. But I didn't. I always finished what I started. So I guess I was more OCD than ADD. But who cares. I was having a ball.
Most of the real writers I know are not quite as diversified as me. But that's because they have found their passion in a single vertical writing silo or two. And my attitude is that it takes all kinds and more power to them.

The Why Of It

~ Jim Murray ~
Communication Strategist ® Writer ® Editor © Op-Ed Blogger
Art Director ® Project Manager * beBee Brand Ambassador
Partner with Charlene Norman @ Bullet Proof Consulting

With an experience base that bridges
the Digital Divide by a good two decodes,

| work with direct clients large & small,
designers, art/crective directors & consultants
fo create results-driven, strategically-focused
communication in all on & offline media.

Phone: 289 687
It wasn't until recently that I ever really thought too much about why I was doing this. I don't think writers do.
Oh sure, the commercial communications work I do has a very specific purpose, which is helping the companies I work for grow their businesses. And that is extremely gratifying and I'm pretty good at it.
But beyond that, it's a mystery. The other day I wrote a lyric that I liked. At some point in the future I will go back and tighten it up. yesterday, I wrote a web site for a new consulting business I'm getting involved in. Those are two wildly different things. And it's the test of the real writer's ability to be able to attack them both with equal passion.
I'm lucky in that regard because that's never been a problem for me.

The Symptoms Of Real Writer-itis

The way you find out if you're a real writer is if you exhibit and or all of these symptoms:
1. You write every day and write as much as you can.
2. You read a lot, preferably the work of other real writers.
3. You have found your passion and are not freaked if it's more than one thing.
4. You understand that if you're not enjoying yourself, you should quit before you become depressed.
5.  You accept the fact that you will repeat Steps 1 and 2...till your time is up. No retirement allowed.
6. You always end whatever you are writing when you have said all you want to say.
Like I am doing now.

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Jim Murray is a communication strategist, writer, art director blogger and beBee brand ambassador for Canada. His partner, Charlene Norman is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, headquartered in St Catharines, Ontario and designed to serve forward thinking businesses in the Niagara and Golden Horseshoe regions of Southern Ontario. Web site coming soon.

You can find out more about us at: http://tinyurl.com/y9zc9gvx



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Comments

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #52

I wonder if the symptoms of "writeritis" can occur at any age as well as in any other maladies. If yes, is there a remedy or this is an affliction for the lifetime? There is a chance that I and many others who discover a passion for writing and expressing personal thoughts or insights on social media publishing platforms are would-be writers. Last weekend I forgot the time while drafting some ideas and fail to make dinner on time but I didn't feel guilty. :-) I think I'm afflicted, although for now, I have only one or two symptoms you mentioned. Great post, Jim.
Great 👍

Claire L Cardwell

3 years ago #50

Great post Jim Murray - I don't always have the time to write every day, but I've got a constantly expanding list of potential ideas for articles and research tucked away.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #49

#78
Thanks Chas \u270c\ufe0f Wyatt

Jim Murray

4 years ago #48

#78
Thanksd you Chas \u270c\ufe0f Wyatt

Lisa Vanderburg

4 years ago #47

Haven't even got to the comments, as this is such a thorough and descriptive buzz, for which I feel humbled to even try to comment on Jim Murray! I takes big cojones to say 'And that is extremely gratifying and I'm pretty good at it. But beyond that, it's a mystery.', but that's the point, no? Because you are a TRUE WRITER and have learned the value of dropping all that doubt that must be endemic for an age. It's not bragging; it's merely acknowledgement - kudos to you! Very enjoyable!!

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #46

#71
Shelley, in his reply #7 in this thread, Jim says, "I'm just amazed that someone out there is named Schmuck, I believe that's a Jewish slang term for prick, no?" Put that together with you comment #60, "@Jim Murray # 7 "You are really honest with yourself about what the hell is it you are", the exchange strikes me as funny. Of course, I've never pretended to be normal. Cheers!

Jim Murray

4 years ago #45

#64
Right,.Agreed. I tend to aim a lot of the stuff I write at people who just starting out and like the idea of some sort of structure. I know a lot of writers who don't write every day. But I'll bet they did when they first started out.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #44

#69
Nope... you had me at 'daily writing'

John Rylance

4 years ago #43

The important thing is not what when where why you write, but how you write that gets you noticed.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #42

#59
Milos Djukic. Why are you posting this in a comment stream where it is very well hidden. Put it into a post and show it to everybody.

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #41

Jim, Yes, we are doomed to repeat Jim's steps 1 through 6 over and over and over. But I don't care! Nuff said.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #40

#60
Shelley Brown, ROFLMAO AICGU. Sometimes life's ambiguities yield seriously belly laughs. To wit your comment in #60 below. If your "#7" prefaces your own addition to Jim's list of six points, then it is a solid enough comment. BUT, if your "#7" refers to Jim Murray's comment #7 below in this thread, your remark is absolutely hysterically funny! Check it out and let me know. Cheers! And thanks for making my day.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #39

#57
Thank you Phil Friedman, my friend for being you, always. “Thank you for all your guidance and wisdom, for setting the bar so much higher than I thought I could reach, and for giving me plenty of room to run with my own ideas. You've been the best teacher I've ever had.” - Lisa Genova

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #38

Dedicated to my late father.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #37

#48
Thank you, Professor Milos Djukic -- "I learned you can't trust the judgment of good friends." -- Carl Sandburg "To think is to be, to be is to judge" -- The Wisdom of Chung King (circa 650 AD) "Not all judgment is 'judgmental' and to confuse the two commits a category error of the first magnitude." -- Phil Friedman Cheers, my friend. I hope this finds you well.
Love that comment, Jim Murray: Writing at the speed of thought! Yup. Happens a lot. (The trick seems to be to not post at the same speed.) And I don't know if I'm a real writer, but I do enjoy it now in my almost-dotage. But I do get a lot of pleasure of sharing ideas, and maybe even more about learning new ideas from others, like you!

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #35

The Agony and Ecstasy of Social Media Writing – Compilation Part 5 The process of transmitting messages to the curious reader requires knowledge, dedication, writing skills and fresh ideas. Someone's writing must have color, clear personal touch and scent. Writing is an exclusive and privileged activity. This is a reflection of your mind, when it makes sense. In the second case (hyper productivity - I am a "productive" writer syndrome), it's a nonsense. Creativity and authenticity are the foundation necessary for a good writing. Tailor your writing to your soul, spirit and aspiration. After all, writing is a serious profession. I support all dedicated writers, who have not yet earned well-deserved attention. You have to build your personal identity in strict accordance with your hidden dreams, wishes and aspirations. Long live our authenticity through diversity.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #34

The Agony and Ecstasy of Social Media Writing – Compilation Part 4 I was saddened, but also fascinated by the fact how powerful words can be sometimes. That is the secret of dazzling effects of social media on people. It is everyone's right to choose their own experience or interpretations of someone's writing or thinking. Try to masterly transform your words into the correct and effective forms while still retaining the authenticity of self expression. No one is greater enemy of self expression than us. Unfortunately, many people today have a tendency to unconsciously replace authenticity with arrogance, selfishness or boredom. Social media communication is a great workout. You won't become better known and more recognized or respected if you deviate from your natural writing rhythm. Calm is a common phenomenon that happens to every writer, researcher or scientist. You need to let this phenomenon does not bother you, because it is transient in nature.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #33

The Agony and Ecstasy of Social Media Writing – Compilation Part 3 Mediocrity is an inherent characteristic of everyone's creations. Writing is the ultimate way of expressing our aspirations, internal struggles and ideals. The written word is the most powerful weapon in the hands of those who strive for truth. One word can make a miracle or a misery, similarly as a love. If I write carefully, I will also reduce the chance that my words are misunderstood, misused or taken out of context by someone. If I follow my intuition in writing, I will not be better to everyone, but certainly to myself and also to some precious self-similar people. I don't ever write by dictate or with a particular large audience in mind. If I manage to stay true to myself in writing, I will become a bit clearer and much closer to some people, while simultaneously I will dissociate from some people. Enjoy the silence of writing. Be fun, interesting to read, relaxed and sharp at the same time, helpful and very professional in communication. Unfortunately, any further need for deeper analysis or search for the substance within some important topics is very often generally neglected in social media.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #32

The Agony and Ecstasy of Social Media Writing – Compilation Part 2 Writing is also time consuming activity. Often, our job is not too creative neither far from an occasional displacement activities. Be creative, but not too creative. What does it mean? It means that I am a lazy writer. On the other hand, I think that literary creativity and innovation requires a certain amount of disorder and creative chaos. It was much easier to turn to the intoxicating comfort of social media than the routine business activities. There are really a limited number of fertile authors whose articles retain high quality during prolonged time. Writing is a joy. I am sure that "so much in there" remains after written words. An integral part of “Writing is a Joy” concept is to control own vanity and overblown self-regard. Post - writing activities and fruitful discussions are the true harbinger of progress. My entire professional career has been built on writing. What's important is to find a balance between what makes money and what makes a business man or academic worthy and respected. Maybe our writing is blatantly trivial to capture someone's attention or imagination. It is very easy for a writer to surrender in front of the pervasive and intoxicating magnetism of superficiality. It's costly and has unpredictable consequences.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #31

Thanks for the great comment stream everybody,.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #30

The Agony and Ecstasy of Social Media Writing – Compilation Part 1 Can one individual’s social media activities, meaningful and honest or pointless, impact a multitude of other minds significantly? The simple answer is, yes. Very often, carefully prepared thoughts of a high quality remain completely unnoticed by a larger audience. Is there something more than the shining glory? Only carefully written words should cause a growing clamor (determined chaos), innovation and an inevitable progress. Loneliness is a silent plague that is hurting not only young people, but also adults. Writing is one of the simplest and fastest ways to express personal thoughts or insights and not necessary in a profitable way. Only one trivial or non-genuine article may cause disappointment among the audience, but more important is severe emotional dislocation of self. Nevertheless, below average article was never one that is written from the bottom of heart. Creative writing is an art. Words and thoughts are like clouds. Lightning usually appears later or never, first in our mind and only then in someone else’s. Unfortunately, mind delusions are ubiquitous. Sometimes, promising "New heights" are quite low at the end. An article never dies. Written words are eternal.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #29

#45
The nice thing about social media is that everyone is entitled to their opinion, even the narcissists. This post is part of a very long series of advice I give to would be writers, because, I happen to believe that not everybody is a writer but maybe everyone can be. Also your remark about writing just like Hemingway makes you sound more like a mimic than a writer, But then I started the same way, writing like Bob Dylan, or at l;east trying to.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #28

#26
Phil Friedman, The name of this song is "Illusion" and it is from album titled "Judgment" by VNV Nation. The "VNV" in the name stands for "Victory Not Vengeance", in keeping with the group's motto, "One should strive to achieve, not sit in bitter regret. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVf2EeTMNJo

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #27

#44
, in the manner of late 60s and early 70s pop psychology, I'm OK, (if) you're OK. Cheers, buddy.

Lyon Brave

4 years ago #26

I think everyone is a real writer. The narcissism of writers has always fascinated me. You don't understand, I'm really amazing because I read Hemmingway and copy him to the T in my own poems. I mean my work really sounds like his.

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #25

#41
Thanks for your messsage, Phil 😇🙏 you make an excellent point, as usual, which I applaud 👏👏 as usual. Please note that I inadvertently erred in my haste to comment and shut down my laptop while Nicole was dragging me out the door to enjoy the nice weather 🌞☀️. Thus, as they say in Congress, please allow that statement to be stricken from the record and replaced with the following iteration "Ditto that for you, Jim, Phil Friedman and so many other impressive bees and ambassadors alike for their exemplary buzzes, honey 🍯 and cross-channel pollination. Again, I regret the error, Phil, and I really appreciate your catching and correcting it. In fact, to close out a Live Buzz I did yesterday, I specifically thanked "all bees and brand ambassadors..." To paraphrase Hillary Clinton's famous line, it takes a hive -- in fact many hives. The beauty of beBee is that the work and contributions of the users are much more valuable than that of any individual worker bee or ambassador, etc. I like to think of Producer as a level playing field in which all views are heard via civil debate and constructive open dialogue. Please forgive my inadvertent oversight and omission, Phil. I ask the same to all users/bees I may have unintentionally offended. I have never claimed to BEE perfect and never will be perfect. To the contrary, I'm very far from it. Peace brother! ✌️️✌️️🐝🐝🇺🇸🌏🌍🌎

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #24

You are a true writer Jim Murray. I can't imagine how many pages you've written over time. You described the profession of a writer well- or even those who are writers on a part time basis but it may not be their entire life yet they are great writers. Writing is a gift like any gift. I consider myself a person who is passionate about what I write, a person who enjoys writing but not a writer in the sense of your description. If I had enough money, I'd buy a very nice DSLR camera, take the necessary classes and put a lot more time into my photography which I feel I have a good eye for and love, love... love! For me, photography takes my mind off of all the vices you mentioned above along with giving me a sense of peace. Writing in individual for everyone and what I may consider a great read and writer, others may find the same blog boring or whatever term can be applied. Keep up your writing, there have been many pieces you write that I really enjoy and that's probably because you are diverse.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #23

#39
, you know that I value both your writing and your friendship. However, as you know, whenever you or others say as you did below that, "And ditto that for you, Jim and so many other impressive beBee ambassadors who make this buzzing platform so special!", I have to ask if it is your and the platform's considered opinion that it is only the designated beBee Brand Ambassadors who count or who contribute to making this "platform so special"? When a reputedly inadvertent misstatement continues to be repeated, one begins to wonder if there really isn't a current of elitism running through beBee. Just saying. Cheers!
#39
agree we need to honor Jim's buzz, and agree with your beautiful words David.

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #21

#38
Not to hog Jim's brilliant buzz here, but thank you you are much too kind. And ditto that for you, Jim and so many other impressive beBee ambassadors who make this buzzing platform so special!
one thing is sure , you are loved by many and your videos touch many honey bees hearts ;-).

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #19

Part 2 of 2 The specific reasons writers write depend on the individual. But here are some of the reasons why I write: 1) I'm a creative person who likewise discovered writing at young age thanks to being motivated by an influential high school teacher who kept giving me A's on my assignments. Finally, I thought, I'm good at something! 2) I write because I feel like there's something inside me that I need to get out about a particular topic of interest -- a thought or opinion expressed via a blog post or feature article, etc. 3) Writing make me feel good and -- as has been said -- is therapeutic. 4) Some people, not most or all, appear to appreciate my writing as I appreciate yours and that of others. 5) I believe, like other writers and creative types, I was born with some innate writing skills, as I come from a family of creative people. My mom, in her better days, was an artist (painting, multi-media) and writer. Ditto the artistic creative thing for my sister who attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and has also done some writing. And my grandfather painted in his spare time with beautiful water color scenic paintings in the impressionist spirit. Well, I'm running out of space here. That's one of the things about real writers, they don't want to stop once they get started!

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #18

PART 1 OF 2 Jim, thanks for another excellent read. I feel honored and humbled to count myself cas someone else who considers himself to be a "real writer" (that being real or perceived) -- albeit not nearly as prolific as YOU and others, like John White, MBA, and others. This is due mainly due to my full-time day job getting in the way -- in which I also do some writing, although more technical and bureaucratic working in the public sector. However, I likewise plan to never retire from writing. You share an interesting observation, Jim: "It wasn't until recently that I ever really thought too much about why I was doing this. I don't think writers do." I think there are many reasons why writers write...
#34
I love what you have written here, thank you. I know how some bees are a bit hesitating to set their first steps in the writing field and they might lose just that little courage. It was only about that. You are without any doubt a great writer. Let that be clear.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #16

#25
...Sorry if you felt I was judging anyone here. Everybody is what they are. I know I am a writer because writing is my profession and probably my only skill. The 'real' here is really meant to define 'dedication' to the craft and not be a point of differentiation or stratification. The overall intent of this piece is to give anyone who wants to be a professional writer some advice from someone who is in that profession. I don't judge anyone except myself, although, admittedly, not as harshly as I should.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #15

#20
Gerald Hecht, I get it. When I was studying comedy as a youth one summer in Benton Harbor, Michigan (the minor leagues to the Catskills Circuit), we learned the following routine: A little kid would come onto stage and call out, "The Viper is coming, the Viper is coming". Someone else would run in circles intoning. "The Viper is coming, whatever shall we do?" Then someone older would enter stage right and be told, "Oh help us, please, the Viper is coming". And that person would scream and run off state calling out like Chicken Liver -- er, Chicken Little -- "the Viper is coming, the Viper is coming!" After about a full five minutes of this insanity and inanity, I would come onto stage in an apron and rubber galoshes holding a sponge and say, "I am da vindow vasher, I've come to vipe da vindows!" My grandparents' crowd would roar hytsterically and the curtain would close. OMG! How's that for a self-revelation.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #14

#17
Yes, Peter, I understand completely. When I was an undergraduate, I thought that perhaps I could write like Dylan Thomas if I could learn to drink like him. Total failure. For most ethnic Jews lack the enzyme production necessary to metabolize that much alcohol all at once and so can never aspire to binge drinking. Instead, they tend to pass out after a measly three or four whiskeys (in my case two). As to my back up plan, I learned to love sailing and being in open waters, but again I hate big game fishing. Eventually, I gave up my plans to be a writer and studied philosophy. Cheers!
#28
Kind of you towards Jim, and you are wonderful too Kevin.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #12

There are many who call themselves writers, but you Jim are my 'gold standard' of what a real writer is... ... unlike the hobbyists (including myself in that bunch).
#26
I listened to your words while reading them, I hear you.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #10

#25
Liesbeth> " Be careful and let us not judge." Liesbeth, I think the full expression is, "Judge not, lest you be yourself judged." Which doesn't prohibit judging, only placing oneself on a pedestal above others. Like you, I am not overly fond of the self-ascribed title "writer" and have said so more than once. https://www.bebee.com/producer/@friedman-phil/why-i-am-not-a-writer-and-other-random-observations-on-literary-keyboarding But the fact is we make all manner of judgments every day. We judge what food we like and don't, what books and articles, what thinkers, and what politicians. We judge whose clothes we like and whose looks, and on and on. So why shouldn't we judge who is and who is not "a writer" or what it takes to be one? Don't you judge who is and who is not a "certified executive coach"? At base all such judgments, whether about writers or executive coaches, are no more nor less than expressions of our respective personal opinions. Let's allow Jim (and all others) the right to express their opinions with hitting them with moralistic pronouncements. Which does not mean that we should give them a free pass to say what they want without challenge. For to be a writer is to say, "Hey, here I am and here is my work. Now, come and judge me." Cheers!
I see value in what you are sharing here, and there is a truth. I also want to say here something. Be careful and let us not judge. I am not fond of the label 'real writer'. I really would love that people follow their heart and write when they want to write. Let the reader decide. Writing needs a lot of practice and obsession, yes, when it is a natural part of someone's craving for writing. The great names in the writing field will be known one day. Let the reader figure out what he loves to read.

don kerr

4 years ago #8

#11
Gerald Hecht good point. I think.

don kerr

4 years ago #7

Phil Friedman think that is exactly the point I was driving toward. And your list of flawed writers is accurate if tiny. 🥃🍸🍾💊💉 Now get back to your mission work Phil. #5

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #6

#7
Yes, Jim Murray, a schmuck is a horse's penis in Yiddish. Figuratively, of course. A schmuck is the guy who inevitably spills his bowl of soup at the dinner table. A schlimiel is the guy who the schmuck always spills the soup on. Given a choice, it's probably better to be a schmuck than a schlimiel. Cheers!

Jim Murray

4 years ago #5

#1
LOL. I'm just amazed that someone out there is named Schmuck, I believe that's a Jewish slang term or prick, no?

Jim Murray

4 years ago #4

#5
Phil Friedman. That's certainly a valid opinion. However, what I wrote was reflective of another opinion. A case of alternative facts both being true.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #3

#3
Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr, you guys know that I love you and your writing dearly. But WTF are you talking about when you say writers avoid the ills of substance abuse because they're too occupied writing? Hemingway, Faulkner, Parker, Thompson, Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Capote, Poe, Chandler, Cheever, O. Henry, Williams, Kerouac, Fitzgerald and on and on. The list is to long to be encompassed in this comment. Come on guys, let's get real. Writing can be an obsession and a blessing, but it can also be an affliction -- or the cause of affliction. And BTW, writers don't write because they can; they write because they're driven to. Which makes them, I'd guess, addictive types who can easily fall into addictive behaviors. Or not. Either way, they are a totally mixed bunch. Now, please behave yourselves and allow me to return to upsetting the emotives on social media. :-). Cheers!

don kerr

4 years ago #2

Jim Murray You are correct in this respect although the journey from one obsession to another is pretty short in the writer's world. "In fact their obsession with writing is the thing that actually prevents them from becoming obsessed with other things that can really hurt them. Like booze and drugs and other extreme forms of behaviour."

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #1

Write&Read a great exercise for everyone. I don't write daily :( thanks! 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

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