In college, I juggled a full course load, a full-time job and a part-time job, and a social life. I’m an overachiever. I sort of specialize in getting shit done.
Lucky for me, this website has become a great way to channel my urge to *do* something. (Read: write.) As it turns out, you need help in that very department. Sooooo, here are four “No Fuckery Allowed” ways to pull it off on your terms.
1 – Writers are not the in business of soothing or comforting.
Just say it. Don’t think about how to make it pretty. Don’t ponder how “a real writer” might arrange the words. If you are writing, then you are a writer. No one can tell the story like you. (Thank you, Michael Xavier.) So be yourself. Holding back for fear of someone else’s reaction is not being true to yourself or your message. We don’t write to make friends with the world. We write because we can’t help it. Ergo, how someone else feels about your words is irrelevant. And don’t let anyone tell you any different.
2 – Writers’ block is a fancy phrase for fear.
So figure out what is scaring you. Then look it in the eye, tell it to fuck off, and write anyway. Putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) is not a terrifying act. If you’re afraid, you are anticipating a negative reaction to your words. Examine that. Hold it up to the light and see it for what it is – a whole lot of nothing. Writers are conduits. We share messages. Not everyone is going to love what we write, and that is perfectly okay. We’re not curing cancer. Frankly, I’d be more worried if everyone did love it. Strong reactions – love, hate, grief, sadness – mean we’ve punched the reader some place tender. That’s my goal. How about you?
3 – Forget the gear.
On my desk right now, in no particular order: my computer, two 99-cent spiral notebooks, a bag of Ruffles, a mug of coffee, a pack of Marlboro Lights and an ashtray. (Yes, I smoke. Get over it.) Somewhere nearby, I have a few pens, some paperclips, my Kindle and a pile of bills. I write in Word. For this site, I write in WordPress. I carry a notebook and a handful of pencils if I leave the house.
Writers do not need particular software, felt tip pens, leather-bound journals or anything else. Before carrying my notebook everywhere, I was known for grabbing napkins off restaurant tables or shuffling through the glove box for a scrap of paper. If you have something to say, the medium you use to scrawl it on doesn’t matter. Waiting for the right gear is a stall tactic. Stop it.
4 – It’s not about you, sweetie.
I don’t care what you’ve earned, been awarded, overcome or survived. I don’t care if you’re a high school dropout or a PhD candidate. As a reader, I don’t care about you at all – unless you can show me how what you feel relates to me. So stop worrying that you aren’t qualified to write. Stop thinking you haven’t lived enough to write. Stop telling me what you’ve done and connect with me. Show me why I should care. Make me give a shit by sharing your feelings, thoughts and lessons learned. Show me why this story matters.
What reads better?
After a lengthy and successful career in journalism, I decided to take it easy on myself and work from home.
My chronic overachieving eventually burned out my adrenal glands. The body can only tolerate so much. When I finally crashed, I slept 16 to 20 hours a day, unable to even shower without help. My choices were either to modify my lifestyle and schedule (work from home) or keep going and risk permanent damage.
The why – the detailed and specific – makes all the difference. Good writers make people feel something.
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