I just got back from the last session of my Writing for the Web class at CSU and I am completely exhausted, but I have committed to posting every day this month, so what I’ll do is share with you some of what I shared with them as part of my “good-bye speech,” (it is very important to acknowledge endings, to say good-bye). On our course blog, I posted this:
It is the last day, the final class session!!!
I was watching this video yesterday, and it made me think of what I would want to tell you on the last day, what I would want you to take away from this class.
Dallas Clayton is a person who wrote a book for his kid, and it ended up starting a revolution of sorts, certainly led to a career where he got to work doing what he loved. He says, in an interview with Brene’ Brown (the same place I got the above picture of awesome kids):
“Do what makes you happy. Use that to make other people happy.”
And when she asks him “Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart?,” his response is “We’re all going to die.”
This is similar to the message of Chris Guillebeau, who wrote the book “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World“: make your life better by doing what you love and in turn make the life of others better as well, and don’t wait, start now!
And then there’s Austin Kleon’s “How to Steal Like an Artist,” where he reminds us:
- Steal like an artist.
- Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
- Write the book you want to read.
- Use your hands.
- Side projects and hobbies are important.
- The secret: do good work and share it with people.
- Geography is no longer our master.
- Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
- Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
- Creativity is subtraction.
So what I would want you to take away from this class, take into your life:
- Trust yourself
- Take care of yourself
- BE yourself
- Get to know what things make you happy
- Pay attention
- Notice the little things because they might turn out to be what’s important
- Expect to work hard at what you love
- Be nice, or in other words, don’t be a jerk
I told them that magic happens to people when they do what interests them, what they love, and even if they don’t end up getting paid for it, it will make them a happy life. And every once in a while, some people do get lucky and get paid for the thing they love, and they are having a blast, so there’s always the chance that the next one will be you.
I told them to trust themselves, and even if other people didn’t understand, to do what felt right to them. If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself. Have faith in your gut instinct, your intuition, your basic wisdom. Follow your own heart, even if no one else seems to be going that way.
I told them that you can’t always plan how your life will go. I’m a great example: it took 12 years and three different colleges to finish my degree, and what led to where I am now isn’t so much my education as the fact that every time I got the opportunity to do something that sounded interesting or fun, I said “yes,” and looking back, it might make sense how I got here, but there’s no way I could have planned it. As Dallas Clayton would say:
I told them that so many people’s big idea, great work, came out of something that they didn’t think was important or that big of a deal at the time. Artists who thought they were only doodling, writers who were just writing a book for their own kid, people helping out on a project or playing around and it sparked an idea that led to their life’s work that turned out to be totally unrelated to their degree or any dream they’d ever had for themselves.
I told them that when they are doing what they love, they will happily work hard, that on the weekends, I can easily work 10-12 hour days, and the only reason I stop is because I physically can’t do more. If my body would let me, I’d keep going.
I told them that none of this necessarily had anything to do with writing for the web, but it was what I wanted them to know.