Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I started wearing a watch again.  I haven't worn a watch in about 10 years, and today was the first day.  Honestly, it wasn't too bad.  It showed the time, showed the number day, and glows in the dark.  It fit comfortably on my wrist without being too tight or too loose.  I'll try it again to see how I like it tomorrow.

Something struck me about it, though.  This thing only tells time.  I'm taking up valuable body real estate to wear this device that only does one thing.  Sure, there are some watches that have calculators or alarms on them, but at the very most, it's a drop of water in the ocean compared to what a cell phone can do now.  Who in their right mind would use such a thoroughly limited device?

I'm not going to pretend that there are zero benefits to a watch.  The time can be viewed instantly, anywhere.  No looking for clocks, no pulling out your phone to see it.  The other reality is that I'm not really using my wrist for anything else, so giving up the real estate is not a huge concern.  Still, though, the fact that it only does one thing bothers me.

I think of writing the same way.  Sure, you can write a piece that does one thing, but it's usually unsatisfying.  You write something that is funny (like slapstick comedy), or you write about the sights you saw on your summer vacation, and those things my entertain or they may inform, but that's it.

Try to make your writing multifunctional.  Can you entertain and educate?  Can you tell a story about friendship that also teaches us about racial sensitivity?  Can you tell a sweet story about a dinosaur's life while also teaching us contemporary archaeological theory?

The more your writing can do, the more fulfilling it is for your audience.  And, the ultimate in multifunctionality success: Can you fulfill your audience and also fulfill yourself?

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