“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” Gustave Flaubert.
Writing is fraught with hesitation for the devoutly accurate. If I write what I believe, then I am writing my opinions which implies that I believe that I am an expert – and whilst in some respects I am, I also lack the desire to stand up and shout about such a statement. If I report upon what other people write, then I am merely collating. So when I write, I endeavour to be truthful and explore the extent of my knowledge and of the information available to me. This has limitations, in that despite undergoing constant training and study, my own knowledge can only reflect what I have learnt to date.
In discussing journalism and writing today with young friends, we discussed the vulnerability of truth and education as a writing tool. If a writer chooses to pen a piece giving their opinion upon a person, product or place, they are entitled to do so, leaving the reader to decide upon the veracity of the piece. Herein lies the problem, as many people don’t realise that if it is written for public consumption, that it is not necessarily true. So how to write and retain some personal credibility? Apparently the path to erudite enlightenment is to blog.
On listening to Ezra Klein on a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, he discussed the starting of his blog career. It was when he realised that by writing his opinion, and putting it out there for others to enjoy, this is a measure of success in the world of blogs. Today, he writes for a vast audience, attuned to his political musings, but he started out writing, it was for a mere 35 followers who gave him the confidence to keep his thoughts in the public arena.
I worked for seven years for a news bureau – admittedly not on the news desk, I was in sales and training, but you pick up some good habits by osmosis. In writing, the intention is to educate, inform, and maintain a standard of quality control. So it is in writing my comments on my Facebook page, or here in my blogs, that I realise that I still attempt to keep up the standards to this level. So when I write about a diet, or exercise, or nutritional product, I will always be at pains to present the information in a way which shows if it is my opinion, or a proven fact, so that the reader will be in a position to create their own decision from their reading.
Often when I am writing an introduction to a story about research, I will reiterate the salient points, to clarify if, for example, the research had a high success rate, or was performed upon a large group of people. Working as a naturopath, it is often assumed that we rely upon traditional knowledge or anecdotal evidence, but in my experience, more naturopaths turn more to science than tradition, to validate their modus operandi. Similarly, if I see a piece of research used inappropriately (say it isn’t so – surely no journalist would ever write an inaccurate sensationalist headline in order to achieve greater readership…), I will often attempt to moderate the understanding of the actual research, by educating those who read my pages.
So for those who choose to read my pages, or follow my suggestions for research and information, take it as read that I write from the heart, with all the truth and learning which is within my possession, but that I am aware that it is not possible for one person to know all things, so at times, I may base discussion upon what I know, not what is known. Forgive me my human frailty and allow me the grace to learn and educate myself also.
“Nothing is critic-proof.” Joan Didion.
5 January 2017.