Category Archives: Writing

The 5 Toughest Things About Writing

Obviously, I like to write. It’s what I do for my day job and what I do in my free time (you know that because you’re on my site). It isn’t always easy, though. There are certain things all writers face at one point or another, so, my fellow scribes, I’ve distilled all your frustrations and neurosis into a handy five-point list.

5. Getting started 

Much like going to the gym, your first obstacle is actually getting started. There are several things that stand in the way of getting started but, in my experience, there are two things that really keep me from working: distractions and lack of ideas.

I just wanted to use this picture again.

Unfortunately, nowadays, everyone writes on laptops…which also have access to the Internet–probably the greatest distraction in human history. It’s easier than you think to waste half an hour  watching music videos from the ’90s when you intended to get something done. But it’s not just the Internet. There are also TV and video games, which distracted generations of people before Internet was even a thing.

Of course, in the previous construct, there’s a subtle implication that you have something to write about. That’s not always the case. There are some days, weeks, even months, where inspiration is plentiful, you know, like bad grammar in Youtube comments. But there are other times when it’s like trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

I find the best cure is to start typing anything, even if it’s just a stream of consciousness. Secondly, if you have what you believe to be a sub-par idea, work on it anyway. It might turn into something else (read better) entirely. It’s not like you have to publish everything you write either.

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On Writing: The Value Of Comics

Influences

I walked into class and sat down at a desk in the front of the room. I never sat in the back of the room. My buddy Adam sat directly to my right. We always tried to take one elective journalism class together. It made class more like fun and less like work. This particular shared class was Editorial Journalism.

Clyde, my experienced yet surprisingly animated teacher, announced  the subject of that day’s class was “finding your voice.” He lectured. We listened. Eventually, Clyde asked the question that I knew he would ask. I mean, I knew he would ask this particular question when he announced the day’s subject. I didn’t know it when I woke up. That would be witchcraft.

“So, who or what are your influences?”

A couple of people volunteered answers, and by a couple, I mean exactly two. So I volunteered.

I rattled of the names of three writers: Nick Hornby (of High Fidelity fame), Irvine Welsh (of Trainspotting fame) and Clive Thompson (of Wired fame). I explained my love for their quirky senses of humor and how they inject pop culture into their writing effectively and with purpose. I also named Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene (I won’t insult you with links). I explained my fondness for Hemingway and Greene’s tight sentences and their ability to set intimate scenes.

Clyde, to his credit, said, “That makes sense. I can see that in your writing.”

I love those writers, and they’ve helped my writing more than they will ever know. But after I finished talking, I felt guilty. I felt guilty because I cheated. I didn’t plagiarize; I wouldn’t do that.  However, in a way, I didn’t give credit where it was due. I didn’t say anything about comics, comic writers or comic artists.

That’s right, I like comics (of the strip and book variety). GASP!!! Believe it or not, they’ve actually influenced my writing and designing. Comics have a stigma, though, and that’s what kept me from mentioning them. They have bright colors, pictures and onamonapia words that the original Batman TV show made oh, so famous:

It all adds up to create the perception that comics are nothing more than literary pulp for children. That assumption is so simplistic and pompous it makes my blood boil. Comics have incredible value if you have the right mindset.

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Some Thanks Are In Order

When I wrote “Signs I’m Starting To Become An Adult,” I never expected it to attract any attention. I thought some of my friends might read it, and that was a big might. I expected 50 hits, tops. Imagine my surprise when I checked my dashboard at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday and saw more than 1,000. I think it got around 4,000 by the end of the day. Then there were the comments. I got, literally, hundreds of comments, which were 99.9% positive/insightful.

It’s nice to get such encouraging feedback. Actually, it’s nice to get any feedback. The fact that 1,000 or so words can elicit such a reaction is amazing. It’s also reassuring to know that other people are going through (or have gone through) the same thing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thanking you for linking. Thank you for writing. Just plain, thank you.

Also, in the next couple of days I’m going to post something about an unlikely writing tool/influence. I don’t want to say anymore than that, but stay tuned.

Until then, please enjoy this mashup of two of my favorite pop culture icons:

The Green Dragon Lantern

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