PICK AND CHOOSE

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Once upon a time, Rachel was thirteen years old. She didn’t really know how to say things to people. So she wrote them on her computer and published them to the Internet. (It was like a blog written completely in stream-of-consciousness, only she didn’t know what stream-of-consciousness was back then.)


Once upon a time, Rachel was seventeen years old. She’s better at saying things to people, so she decided to stop acting like her all of her thoughts were God’s gift to mankind. (Because guess what: they weren’t.)


Over the years, my blogging style has become less rambly and more confessional. I don’t rant anymore; I’d like to think that what I write is cohesive and streamlined, although (admittedly) sometimes it isn’t. But, after editing video after video and cutting words upon words and reading book after book, I think I’ve finally learned that the key to making an impactful statement is to know what counts and what doesn’t.


To make your work the strongest it can be, cut what isn’t necessary and keep only what is essential to the point of your story. Don’t let anything detract from its message. If you have a point, make it, and only add the necessary details. Cut the fluff and find the story, because people are naturally drawn to stories.


Something I particularly appreciate about my friend Olivia is her natural tendency to show stories instead of telling them. Through her verse and blog posts, she shows us little snippets of her life. There’s a cadence and rhythm to them, and her prose is beautiful. We see pieces of her life through her eyes, and while we may lack context, that’s the beauty of it: we attach our own memories and stories to what she writes, and in a sense, her story becomes ours.


By reading her blog posts, and that of others, and watching videos, and trying to figure out my own style and what I want to do, I’ve learned that telling a story isn’t so much choosing what to tell people as it is choosing what not to tell them. One of my favorite YouTubers, Cath in College, chooses specific moments to serve as the basis for her videos. She creates a story out of her life by cutting the extraneous and solely focusing on specific moments of her college experience. Her New York internship. Watching home videos with her family. Intentional Thursday lunches with her friends. She doesn't explain what she's doing; she just does them, and we understand what she's doing, because her life looks enough like ours for us to relate to it but different enough for us to be interested in it.


Show, don’t tell.
Pick and choose.
You’re the only one who experiences your life in its entirety, and you’re the only one who can show others what it looks like. You don’t have to show everything about your life, or anything of it, really. But if you do show them, show them the moments that count.


What’s your approach to writing/making things about your life? Do you have a rhyme or reason? Or do you just go with your gut instinct?

17 comments

  1. I have been thinking about this for so long! You make some really good points here. Story telling and just writing in general is something that can be difficult. I like what you said about choosing what not to say.

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  2. This is such a great point. I have a bad habit of not cutting enough, and I really need to work on that.

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    1. I think we all do! & I love reading your posts :)

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  3. So true! I struggle with "going-around-the-bush" when I create content as well. I write and film by gut instinct, which causes me to post/upload a lot less than I'd like too, lol. But the thing is, I'd rather be original and straight to the point rather than fake and uninspiring. Great post Rachel! Love this so much!

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    1. "I'd rather be original and straight to the point rather than fake and uninspiring" <-- true!

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  4. Great post, it's so hard to know what to cut.

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  5. Yep. So true. It's probably what I struggle with the most though. Expressing myself is something I'm still working on, and so is cutting to the point.

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    1. Yeah, the real question is how you find that balance between properly showing who you are and cutting the extra. Thanks for reading, Autumn!

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  6. Showing, not telling = the essence of good writing. Loved this post. <3

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  7. whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaatttttttttt the heck. oh my gosh. i am literally so touched and overwhelmed rn like i do not have words, haha. that literally means so much to me. about to cry haha i love you a lot :') your blog is one of my favorite things

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    1. girl, it was natural for me to include you b/c i've admired that part of your writing for so long. keep it up! <3

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  8. I have not thought about like a lot of this before but like I so agree if that makes any sense. Haha. :) Awesome post!

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