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Frequent writer complaints Frequent writer complaints
by Joseph Gatt
2020-09-13 10:07:52
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Another one with advice for writers.

Complaint 1: how do I get rid of writer's block?

Answer: there isn't a single way to get rid of writer's block and get writing to flow. But there are patterns.

First thing writers, musicians, painters, artists in general need is a repertoire. But the repertoire is always married to the audience or crowd (the reader that is).

writi01_400So a common form of writer's block is when writers don't get along with their readers. If you are writing a term paper and that the professor is not your favorite professor to say the least, you're going to have trouble writing the paper.

If you're a “revolutionary” writer and that you want to “change society” you really need to know who it is that you are fighting. Do you have “friends” who side with you in the cause, or are you against everyone?

I find a lot of writers who seem to fight society as a whole, and who seem to have no one to side with them in their cause. That doesn't win them a lot of readers.

The other important factor is the repertoire of ideas. A lot of my “writer” friends I have coffee with really have 12 anecdotes or stories that they “play on repeat” each time we meet for coffee. I say 12, but in some cases it's more like 3 or 4.

So the more ideas and stories you have, the easier it will be to write and beat writer's block.

Where do ideas come from? Books, articles, conversations with people, life events, documentaries, movies, travel, a little bit of everything.

But then those ideas need to be put in words (in the case of writing) so to avoid writer's block you really need to think in words as opposed to thinking in images or emotions.

How do you become a man (or woman) of words? In addition to listening to good stories, you need to tell a few good stories. Which brings me to my next topic.

Complaint 2: I have so many ideas, a ton of ideas, but have no idea which one to put in writing.

Answer: Good start.

Here's how I proceed (everyone's different). I have so many books on my shelf, but I just pick one and read it, and while I'm reading that one book, I'm usually so focused that I can't think of anything else.

And when I'm almost done with that book, I think about that one book I'm going to read next and focus on that one book as well, and forget about all the other books.

Writing kind of works the same.

There's this one article that I'm focused on, and I forget everything else about life. I'm in a tough situation, so reading and writing helps me lose focus on life's problems and focus on other stuff.

But in 2005, around the time I started writing, I indeed had so many ideas I did not know which ones to put in writing.

I did a little bit of soul searching at first, but then magazines like Ovi and Newropeans Magazine in the old days really helped with the soul searching.

I started my career as something of a “pro-European union” writer kind of guy. In 2005, the reason I got into writing was I wanted Europeans to mix. My idea of the EU was a Danish guy working with a Finnish guy and an Italian and a Portuguese and all that, not an EU where the French would hang out with the French and the Maltese with the Maltese and the Slovenians with other Slovenians.

But my horizons broadened, and I dabbled with things a bit. I wrote about security issues for a bit (not that I was any good at that) before I started focusing on more experimental articles where I'd try to use humor and write funny columns. Dabbled with articles on the topic of language for a bit.

But then, around 2010, I became what many career writers become, which is you write articles with this thing in mind: if not me, who? If not now, when?

That is you have this thing where you go like: if I don't write this down and share it with my audience, who's going to write it down? Either someone's going to steal my idea, or the idea will never be out there. Either I write it now, or the world might never know.

Of course telling the truth is important, otherwise your readers will detect the fraud sooner or later.

And of course, as a career writer, you're going to have to use diversity in ideas, topics, stories and so on. If you're always telling the same story, or a variety of the same story, people are going to get tired of it.

Kind of like how music works. The best musicians (the Michael Jacksons and Madonnas and all that) have so many good songs they spent their entire life recording music. Other musicians have short careers, or fewer fans, because it's this one song everyone buys the album for. You get the idea.

Final complaint: Writing makes me anxious. I sweat and shake and need to lock myself up in a very quiet room when writing.

Until very recently (around a year or two ago) that was my situation as well. That is for many, many years writing made me anxious and any annoyance or noise in the house and I'd stop writing.

Today, you could play heavy metal music in the room and have a crowd wildly dancing to that and I could still write an article or two, with that crowd in front of me.

Why? I think I needed to work on precision for many, many years. A lot of my ideas were vague, and I need to focus hard to turn those vague ideas into clear writing.

But now a lot of stuff is a lot more clear in my mind. It's not perfectly clear, and I need a lifetime of reading and reflecting and my ideas would still have some vagueness in them.

But, first off, I have experience writing in all kinds of emergency situations. Let's not say at gun point, but almost. That wasn't the case in the past.

Also, I have a much clearer idea of what readers are looking for. In the past, my readers didn't know me very well and I didn't know them very well. But we are now familiar with each other, almost at the intimate level. So there's no protocol I have to follow or anything, other than just being myself and my readers just being themselves.

The day I will decide to reinvent my identity will be the day I will lose it all.

By identity, I don't mean Jewish or anything. My identity as a writer is that of someone who looks at how things really work, and writes about that stuff in ways no one has ever written about and with ideas no one has ever written about. That's what I should never change.

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