Put A Lid On It

by Randy Murray on September 22, 2010

Do you feel the need to rant, to rail against the injustices large and small in this world? I’m right there with you, partner. I’ve taken my own share of opportunities to rant here on this site. But I’ve also learned something and I’d like to share it with you.

Go ahead and rant. Let it all out. Spew forth all of the pain, the hurt, the direct and bloody invective. Put it all on the page. Don’t censor yourself.

But then do one little thing: save it. Put it away for twenty-four hours. The more heated the argument, the more important the cooling off period. Just put a lid on it and come back tomorrow.

Now, read it again. Most of the time you’ll simply throw it away and thank your lucky stars that you didn’t publish it. Or you might find that you’ve said something important, but a bit of rewriting, and, perhaps, toning down, will make your message stronger and clearer. And if your desire to set the place on fire is still there, shout “Fire in the hole!” and let her rip.

But give yourself the buffer of a day before publishing your work to see if the passion and heat is real and not just a flush of adrenaline and bile.  And always, ALWAYS temper the things you post to Twitter and Facebook. The temptation to sound off on those forums is particularly strong. If you ever stop and think, “Should I post that?,” then you probably shouldn’t. Or at least wait just a bit.

This thought also lets me link to one of my favorite bands, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, and their song, Put A Lid On It.

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The Put A Lid On It by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim Raffel September 22, 2010 at 8:15 am

Randy, especially good advice in this political season.


2 Randy Murray September 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

I originally intended the advice to myself, but yes, I agree. Politics are getting why overheated. I love Jon Stewart’s advice to “Take it down a notch, America.”


3 Mari September 22, 2010 at 9:05 am

Your valuable commentary tickled me to search “eat your words” which led me to a Slate interview of Anthony Bourdain about being wrong. I quote the author, Kathryn Schulz: “Even though we know better, it’s remarkably easy to feel as if our own aesthetic judgments reflect reality and that, therefore, anyone of sufficient intelligence and sensitivity should share our view.” To vent is therapeutic, but patience is a virtue worth cultivating.


4 Randy Murray September 22, 2010 at 9:09 am

Thanks, Mari - that’s an excellent quote.

I love watching Bourdain, partly because he says exactly what he’s thinking and at the same time is self aware enough to come back and admit when he was wrong or too cruel. Or not. Opinion is what makes people and writing interesting.


5 Ann Janzen September 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

I always liked the quote “Never give advice… wise men don’t need it and fools won’t heed it”. In my humble opinion I feel that often when we rant we are also trying to “advise” others to have the same opinion.


6 Randy Murray September 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

An excellent take on it. Most rants are, “don’t you people see what’s going on?” The better question might be, “why am I so upset?”


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