Most Learning Is Not About Writing

Mark Kolke
Oct 8 · 2 min read

Q. If I can polish what I write before releasing my words to the world, why can’t I apply that same process to my next speech, proposal, phone conversation, argument, email exchange, or client meeting?

A. Self-therapy(editing) in progress

Finding the right word, a better term, more powerful expression feels natural, but before that can be found effortlessly, it exacts an excruciating angst toll if you let it. For good writing to get to great, there seems no salve for these wounds…

“It’s like the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.” ~ Mark Twain

Agonizing reality for writers expressing ‘just the right sensation’ — sometimes promptly, more often after many failed attempts. Sometimes, never.

The more I write, the longer I write, the longer it takes me to write. What I write gets shorter, in turn affording more space for edits and polishing add-ons. Which in turn, consumes time, brain-cells and takes away from other things I could or should be doing.

It’s choosing words more carefully when talking. Self-editing BEFORE opening mouth is the skill I wish I’d learned. If I were to try to fix this retroactively, I would have to go back to childhood, choose a different family — pick a different way of being than what I was shown, what I learned.

Not splitting logs or infinitives; spilling thoughts, taking longer to massage feeling, knead my points; then trimming final product for better impact with fewer words. This feels like such an important point, one that’s taken me decades to appreciate, leaving me with valuable lessons I wish I’d learned decades early. And my point is, this learning is not about writing. It’s about life altering. Altering my life.

I speak slower now, not that thoughts come any less quickly. Mouth-brakes work better, causing me to speak slower, speak last, and sometimes not at all. I wish I’d learned that a long time ago. Regret helps nothing — other than to drive home this valuable lesson. I’m learning. Too slowly, of course, but learning just the same.


Mark Kolke: writer (essays, poetry, short stories, daily columns), public speaker, real estate consultant and publisher, long-time contributor to real estate industry publications and newsletters — writes about life, work, writing, speaking, women, food, creative angst, real estate and connects readers with his passions and frustrations.

Every morning you’ll find Mark sharing fresh thoughts on life, work, creativity, and the nature of reality, or what happened yesterday at lunch — on Medium

Mark Kolke

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renaissance man born in wrong century, writes of joys, frustrations, and malaise of life; microscopic truth-teller loves women, food, golf, and the Oxford comma

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