The ‘too hard’ shelf

I’m part way through a book. It’s about a guy who is serving life in prison for murder. He says he’s innocent of the crime. The reason he’s in prison, he believes, is because his story was too complicated for the jury to understand.

Earlier this week I spent half an hour reading and reflecting on a single article The Guardian shared on Twitter. It’s about how our digital data has been darkly directed to damage our very democracy. It’s an ongoing and very complex story – it hasn’t even been shared 4,000 times yet.

My point is stories matter – they have real-world consequences. Some stories matter more than others. The complicated ones often matter most.

In our complex world though, not every story has a neat and logical beginning, middle or end. That doesn’t make them any less important.

As writers, we must simplify the complicated to make it as accessible as possible. As readers, it’s imperative we don’t lose our ability to tackle the complex.

We live in a time-constrained world. It’s right to prioritise, to invest our energies in the things that really matter. But, in our world of six-word sentences and 20-second sound-bytes, we shouldn’t neglect those important, albeit difficult, stories by consigning them to the ‘too hard’ shelf.

To continue to grow, both personally and professionally, we must challenge ourselves. If we don’t, the muscle we need to work through the complex becomes lazy – that leaves us vulnerable.

Like any muscle, use strengthens – just ask any athlete. So, as we head into the holiday season, why not embrace the change in routine by reading one story this summer, fact or fiction, that pushes you out of your comfort zone?

Alex was employed by internationally-loved household brands to craft their words for two decades. She established not A Duff word in March 2017 to help businesses, brands and boards to wordsmith words that work, master their messages to matter and sculpt standout stories. When she’s not writing for business you’ll now find her writing fiction for pleasure. Her blog ‘early words’ is published Thursday mornings at 07:00.

Published by

Alex Duff

Freelance Communications Professional

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