Play It Again Sam and Again and Again

It’s easier to talk to your friends than strangers. You feel safe. You feel comfortable being you. You trust that these people care about you, and if they’re good friends they want you to succeed. Now, think about how you talk to your friends.

Do you talk to your friends the same way you talk to your boss? Do you talk to your girlfriend the same way you talk to your mechanic? Odds are high you have a vocabulary list for your different relationships. You know which words work, which words are “appropriate.” But in your quest for “appropriate,” are your missing opportunities?

The boldest ideas challenge status quo. They make the majority of people squirm in discomfort, like their shoes are pinching their toes. Bold ideas, however, are rarely “appropriate.” Choosing to be “inappropriate” is a risk. Think about today’s entertainment industry.

Not so very long ago, an acting career was considered “inappropriate.” Today, the top actors and actresses are paid millions of dollars for their work. An entire culture exists around the celebrity lifestyle. And based on the magazine covers lining the checkout racks, people want to know every little detail about individuals they will likely never meet.

The motion film industry was a bold idea, but today it’s thinking more about being “appropriate.” Instead of challenging the way we think about movies, we keep seeing tired stories. Instead of challenging the business model, they chase after pirates on the Internet and in foreign countries.

Movies won’t die. With inexpensive equipment, multiple publication points, and audiences anxious for something different, I believe movies are growing in new and exciting ways. I also think movies won’t continue to be defined only by “appropriate” summer blockbusters. People willing to be “inappropriate” will be the definers of movies for decades to come.

Don’t be the ostrich. Don’t be afraid to look around and test new words on your boss. Yeah, the first few times you may fail, and fail miserably. And it might not get easier with practice. You owe it to yourself, and to your ideas, to stray past what’s “appropriate” into the void of “inappropriate.” Give it a few years, and you might end up with your own star on a sidewalk in a galaxy far, far away.

Do you know how to use words to make connections between these different worlds? The people who figure it out often turn into the best writers.

When I’m writing, I want to make a connection between my ideas and my readers. If I fail, than my ideas remain static bits that go nowhere. These best writers recognize that a gap exists between them and their readers. Note to self: Scroll all the way down before clicking publish. Sigh.


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April 2007
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