July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

When you’re a famous person like me, though I’m not as famous as, say, a food blogger, the guy who sells yo u shoes for Yom Tov, or someone who’s gotten to speak at your local book club or Tehillim session, you may be asked to write a “bio” for your audience. This way people know something about you and can decide whether they want to listen to what you have to say.

It’s ironic, in a way, because most often you’re the one writing the bio—short for “biographical sketch,” which tells a little bit about you—so in reality they’re listening to you to decide if they want to listen to you. Of course, it usually is written in third person, so it may appear to them that whoever is sharing the bio has written it, so let’s just keep that our little secret.

When I’ve had to write bios for myself I’ve had to describe my accomplishments, so I tend to say that “Rabbi Gewirtz is a prolific writer…” Now, I haven’t praised the writing, or said that it’s well-received, just that there’s a lot of it. But I wondered, what is considered prolific? If I write once a week is that considered a lot? Twice a week? If I write several different pieces per week, every week, on an ongoing basis, I think that is a fair definition of being prolific.

Now, wanting to have a fair definition of a fair definition, I looked up the definition of prolific. I found the result quite interesting:

(of a plant, animal, or person) producing much fruit or foliage or many offspring.

“in captivity tigers are prolific breeders”

(of an artist, author, or composer) producing many works.

“he was a prolific composer of operas”

(of a sports player) high-scoring.

“a prolific home-run hitter”

So, first of all, in terms of writing, I can assume that producing three to four works per weeks each week is prolific, because let’s face it, how many operas was that guy really composing? I mean, that’s gotta take time, right?

But what really struck me was the fact that the definition of prolific varied slightly based on who or what it was used to describe. If it was a plant or animal, it might speak of many offspring. An artist could be prolific if she produced many paintings, and a shadchan prolific if s/he made many matches.

It got me thinking. I bet every one of us could be considered prolific at something. The question is what that something is.

Ask yourself, what would people say you do “prolifically”? OK, that’s not a fair question because nobody talks like that. But let’s start this another way. Think of your best friend. What is something that he or she does a lot? Do they often make you smile? Do they compliment you? Do they tell dumb jokes? Cough and sniffle? Do they complain and whine all the time? (If they do, why are they still your best friend??)

The point is, someone can be prolific without intending to be producing anything at all. The person who breeds negativity and hurt feelings may not realize that she is leaving a path of destruction in her wake, but she’s a frequent producer of such emotions. The person who walks into a room with a cheery smile may not be aware of how meaningful that expression is to each recipient of the smile, but they certainly are. And that’s why it makes sense that we write our own bios.

Think about your days. What do you spend much of your time doing? Now, I must interject, because I don’t think that one can be considered “prolific” at picking socks off the floor, or washing dishes, or any of the myriad other tasks that parents find themselves saddled with; but then again, if your family needs clean clothing and you do a prolific amount of laundry, I’d say that can be something productive.

Time to turn up the heat: What would others say you do a lot? Ahhh… that’s a little trickier, isn’t it? But that’s the best way to play this game.

Ask yourself what you do over and over in such a way that it becomes a part of your persona? If it’s giving love and hugs and compliments, that’s a great thing. If it’s deep thoughts and inspiration, or encouragement, that is too!

If people’s first thoughts of you are somewhat less noble—and I leave those things to your own imagination—then maybe it’s time to ask how you can change what you’re prolific in doing.

The truth is, we each write our bios with the things we do and people will use them to determine if they want to listen to us and get close to us. If we’re smart, we will make sure those bios are as wonderful and attractive as possible so people can get to know the real us, and not just a splashy or dramatic cover.

The best part is that we always have the chance to rewrite our bios and let the world see a whole new side to us. So, why not tweak yours right now?

Jonathan Gewirtz is an inspirational writer and speaker whose work has appeared in publications around the world. He also operates JewishSpeechWriter.com, where you can order a custom-made speech for your next special occasion. Sign up for the Migdal Ohr, his weekly PDF Dvar Torah in English. E-mail [email protected] and put Subscribe in the subject.

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