My dad was a very good woodworker, and when I was a kid, he’d let me hang out with him while he made pieces of furniture. Naturally, he couldn’t help trying to teach me a few things.
I was interested, but the lessons he wanted to teach were hopelessly dull. Dad was a fanatic on making precise cuts and keeping the pieces of wood square. (Yawn.) Forget that, I thought. I want to play with the saw, lathe and other power tools. Zazzoom!
Years later, I set up my own woodworking shop. And just as Dad did, I make a piece of furniture here and there, though not nearly as well. I love my toys, so I naturally have fancy gadgets Dad never dreamed of — power planers, laser-guided saws, and high-powered routers with jigs that simplify a lot of the work. But the more I learn — and the more I use my tools — the more deeply I understand Dad’s hopelessly dull lessons: Make your cuts straight, precise, and square. If something’s off by even 1/64th of an inch (or, God forbid, 1/32nd), it can ruin a piece of furniture.
These days, we tend to get caught up in all the shiny new communications tools at our disposal. New blogging platforms, social media, SEO tricks and the like. OK, most of this is old stuff now, but there’s always something changing, and it takes our focus away from where it needs to be: on having a clear, compelling message.
When I write something badly (as I sometimes do — and yes, you probably do too), it doesn’t matter much how it gets published. Whether it’s a web page, a press release, a blog post or a tweet, it won’t get the job done. Not very well, at any rate.
By all means, play with your toys. But always start by making your cuts straight and square.