By Dr. William Oliver Hedgepeth
Program Director, Government Contracts and Acquisition at American Public University
All writers share a unique set of skills and knowledge. They love crafting words that evoke a wave of emotion for readers, bringing tears, laughter or encouragement to dig deeper into a subject.
You don’t always need fancy words from a Ph.D. lexicon to bring about emotion, tell a story or report the facts. The Kevin Bacon movie, Taking Chance, is an example. It is a true story about a Marine officer taking a private home for burial. What is unsaid in this movie is more moving than the actual words in the script.
A Skilled Writer Can Make Any Topic Interesting
Virtually any subject, including numbers, is open for discussion. Even a story about numbers can be entertaining and a learning moment for readers.
Words on Paper Convey Emotions Differently Than Words on Screens
My wife recently told me that when I die she is placing my dog-eared, Scotch® taped paper dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary, into the casket with me. It sits behind me at this desk ready to consult when I seek the meaning of a word.
Yes, I know the Internet is faster, but it’s just not as satisfying as holding the book in my hands and flipping through its pages to track down a certain word. Words in that book have a few extra elements missing from the cold words on an electronic screen.
Potential Stories for Writers Are Everywhere
Do you love words? Do you love to sit in a restaurant booth and wonder why that couple in the next booth talk to someone else on their iPhones and not to each other? Do you see the potential for stories in each booth in that restaurant, involving groups of older and younger people, millennials and baby boomers, people eating alone with a paperback book for company?
What stories do you see? Write down one such story. Maybe you can see a business opportunity in that story or a university class that needs to be created.
Seek the Work of Skilled Writers and Learn from Them
If you have read this far, you most likely have that passion for words and how they can evoke an image, an emotion or an action. One of my favorite authors with this kind of passion is Ernest Hemingway. I enjoy this literary master for his ability to find the ordinary in people and make them seem unique and extraordinary.
Another is Harlan Ellison, who attended writing conventions. He dared the attendees, who were strangers to him, to name three unrelated items from which he would produce a short story on the spot.
Take Time to Practice Your Writing Skills
To begin your journey as a writer, read copiously. Set aside some time each day — for example, 15 minutes — to write. Embrace the spirit of confidence and passion that Hemingway and Ellison demonstrated. Craft a few words from an idea. Craft a few words into an idea.
Writing Well May Broaden Your Career and Your Life
Writing is not only personally satisfying, but becoming a good storyteller opens up career opportunities. Your resume and cover letter will have more pizzazz and you stand out from other job candidates.
Interviews also go better when you prove your ability as a writer. Writing is a great separator for job hunters seeking employment.
Writing well will change the meaning of your story and your life. So go. Write.
About the Author
Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is the program director for Government Contracts and Acquisition at American Public University (APU). He is the former program director of Reverse Logistics Management and Transportation and Logistics Management. Prior to joining APU, Dr. Hedgepeth was a tenured associate professor of logistics and chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His book, RFID Metrics, was published in 2007 by CRC Press. The new edition is under revision.