A Confused Mind Never Buys
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The phrase comes from the marketing world but it applies perfectly well for writing.
Think about the last great movie or tv show you saw. Or the last great book you read.
Was there any moment of confusion in there?
I guess not.
Now, think about one of the worst movies or books you saw or read. And I’m not talking about something that you didn’t like because it wasn’t your genre or style, but rather something that was to a certain degree unprofessional, maybe even made by someone who is rather new to it.
(That is not to say that when you’re still rather new it’a a bad thing to publish work that is not up to par with professional standards. On the contrary. It’s important to get your work out there in order to learn and advance. Now, on with the argument…)
Thinking about the “newbie” project you saw or read, how many times did you feel like “something isn’t right”. But you couldn’t put your finger on it.
Or even, you were outright confused.
It’s a rookie writer’s mistake to mix up “confusion” with something else that you might call “subtext”, “mystery”, or even “character”.
But those are different things.
I have made this mistake a million times before I learned this.
Confusion is when it’s not clear to the reader or the viewer what you want to say, which emotion you try to evoke.
All the other things I mentioned – subtext, mystery, character, … – whenever you’re trying to convey that “something about this situation or this character is not normal”, it must be absolutely clear to your audience.
There can be no doubt about it!
The audience must be clear on the emotion it is supposed to feel!
That’s the business of us writers.
So that was the “craft” part. Now comes the “life” part.
Confusion is also something that can mess up our lives quite a bit. The clearer you can get on the things you want and don’t want in your life, the easier it will be for you to sort them out.
Go for the things you want, avoid the things you don’t want.
For too many years I was culpable of this. I wasn’t clear of the direction I was going in my working life and was just years and years and years of doing work that didn’t inspire me.
I rose in the ranks and over time I earned more money but I also spent more money and it was hard to get out of it.
The time I was working left me little wiggle room to develop other projects.
My writing suffered.
But I needed the work to pay for the life I didn’t even want.
So, I became conscious about it and thought about what I wanted.
In my case that was, having a cheaper life, so I wouldn’t need to work so much in order to maintain it.
It cost me a couple of years to get there, but I managed to cut my living expenses in half, which gives me more flexibility about what kind of work I accept and how much I want to work on my screenplays and other projects.
Once it became obvious to me that this was what I wanted – once I got out of the confused state – I could make decisions accordingly and get going.
Your goals might be completely different, but the takeaway is that you need to clear up the state of confusion first in order to see the necessary steps to get where you want to go.
If you want to learn what these steps are:
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