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What Writers Can Learn From Donald Trump


Like many people around the world, I’ve been watching the vaudeville show that constitutes the Trump presidency with incredulity and growing disquiet. The guy hasn’t been in the role 3 months and he’s already bombed one country and started goading another. Cool.

Add to this his kneejerk responses to just about everything and I think the world can be forgiven for being slightly nervous.

But where's this worrying going to get us? In truth about as far as me posting my outrage on Facebook i.e. nowhere.

All I can really do is attempt to get something positive from the situation. So here it is - here are five things writers can learn from watching this hot mess unfold...

1) Complex motivations make for great characters.

No matter whether you categorise him as villain or anti-hero, Trump provides a living, breathing masterclass in character motivation. Why does he do what he does? It’s all there in overt technicolour – the ego, the impulsive behaviour, the drive to avenge perceived wrongs, the entitlement, the thirst for power and the win at any cost attitude. All we have to do is sit back and do what we do best - observe.

2) It’s smart to know your audience and play to your strengths.

Whether or not Trump actually wanted to be the president at all, one thing is really clear - he wanted to win that election.

He knew who his audience was and gave them what they wanted. There’s a great lesson in here – who is going to read your work? What do they expect from you? Are you delivering it? Have a think about that.

3) Don’t let detractors derail you from your goal.

During the campaign, Trump was on the receiving end of a tsunami of loathing and ridicule. He dug in but he also invested plenty of time in hitting back at his detractors. What a waste of energy!

Sure our detractors won't be as big or powerful as his but surely the smarter play is not wasting precious time trying to convince or retaliate. Just get on with being good at what you do and go around those pesky haters.

4) Don't go with the first thing that you write.

Whatever it is you're writing it behoves you to put the first draft aside, think about it, then go back and rewrite the better, smarter version.

5) Develop a thick skin.

The leader of the free world doesn’t take criticism well – and look how that works out for him. Does his reaction to criticism endear him to folks or impress anyone? No, it does not. If you’re a creative there's going to be criticism in your career. Whether it comes during the development of your project or once your baby is out in the world – it’s going to happen.

There are also going to be rejections and disappointments, some of which will be painful. So do yourself a favour now and develop that extra layer of epidermis because that's what a pro does - and behaving like a spoilt toddler isn’t a good look.

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      Thanks Fiona! Much appreciated. KB

      --Kathryn Burnett

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      I've been writing for the whole of my children's lives. First my BA, then Masters, now Phd, and also...


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