Friday, January 02, 2009

A Sticky Life

One of the key sections of the writing and living well book will be derived from another book that I own, "Made to Stick." This second book, by the Heath brothers, explores why some ideas - even bad or false ideas - thrive in the public domain while others don't resonate. The Heath brothers suggest that six attributes tend to underlie sticky ideas:
(1) Simplicity
(2) Unexpectedness (i.e., a surprising outcome)
(3) Concrete details
(4) Credibility
(5) Emotions
(6) Stories
Obviously, writers will be very interested to consider their work in these terms. Is my writing clear? Does it surprise or drive the reader along? Do I include some details so that my reader gets a picture of what I'm talking about? Am I a credible voice on the subject of discussion? I can go on; clearly, strong writing lessons emerge from the rubric.
N.B.: I'll need to include 2 or three examples of before and after writing examples for some of this. Don't skimp!
But the life-lessons, as usual, make up the more interesting part. I particularly like the stories part as a model because it makes a really neat suggestion: we should have a battery of personal stories at hand. We should know our own stories. We should share them, exchange them, and develop them. We have so many stories, too. We have stories of what we have done. We have stories of what's happened to us. We have stories of others, the strories in which we have been observers. And we have the stories we have learned, the ones we love. What a shame we don't pay more attention to these and care for these.

Perhaps this is one reason why high school and college are such great times, generally speaking. When we are young and newly social, our stories begin to take shape. We become the heroes of the stories we tell, the heroes of stories others tell. This is how we engage with who we are and who we wish to be. Stories help us take a proper distance - not embroiled and not detached.

The other five attributes make for good life lessons too, and I think I can easily talk to them in prose.

Perhaps this should be the first chapter I develop.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment if you have something substantial and substantiated to say.