Shut Up and Write
By Ken Magill
Writer’s block is for posers, at least in business.
I can’t speak for fiction writers and poets. The only poetry I have ever read and enjoyed was that of Charles Bukowski and James Dickey. I wrote a few poems on assignment in a creative writing class in the mid-80s. They sucked.
I tried my hand at fiction from the mid-80s and mid-90s. My stories were seriously cringe-worthy.
I fell into trade and marketing copywriting by accident and it was the best accident of my career.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a ton of writers and have noticed a few patterns. For one, the bad ones take themselves way too seriously. They often need silence to create their masterpieces. They also often join writers’ groups.
Whenever I hear a writer is part of a writers’ group, I think: “Is your mechanic part of a mechanics’ group? Do they get together on Thursday nights and compare wrenches?”
In fairness, I know some good writers who have joined writers’ groups. But not many.
Good writers tend to be those who can just sit down and bang their copy out without being precious about the process.
Bukowski addressed some writers’ penchant for being self-involved in his poem “So You Want to be a Writer.”
Basically he says if the words don’t come flying out of you, don’t bother.
Easy for me to say, I know.
For many folks tasked with posting on their company’s blog, the words don’t come so easily.
So here’s some advice if you ever get stuck. Whatever you’re writing about, there is always one sentence that you know beforehand will have to be included.
Write that sentence. It may be a concept you know you’re going to have to explain, or a term you must define.
Then write something you know will have to come before or after that sentence.
And don’t blame your surroundings for an inability to string sentences together. You co-workers have every right to talk and laugh within earshot. It’s not their fault you can’t concentrate.
Can you talk in your current surroundings? If yes, you can write.
My favorite distraction was one I encountered as an editor at DM News. Workers were re-pointing the building’s bricks. The process involved jack hammering the outside of the building.
I got my copy out then. You can do it, too.
Just write one line. The rest will come. I promise.