Friday, May 20, 2016

A bit more on writing good.

Yesterday I had no time to write, so I reposted something called "How to Write Good." I don't know why exactly when I wrote the post some years ago I titled it ungrammatically, but I guess that's part of the point. I could have called it "How to Write Well." That would have felt supremely mannered and tucked in. But in my estimation would have been less friendly and approachable.

This morning, like so many mornings, I am not bristling with topics for this blog. There's nothing, lately, that's enraged me, nothing I've seen that I've felt worthy of commenting on, nothing that feels so much like I need to write about it.

When you've written over 4,600 posts stretching back almost nine years to 2007, you hit a lot of dry spells. I wish I had a dime for each morning I faced this space with nothing to say.

So maybe this post is about what happens when, as a writer, as a creative person, you have nothing to say.

I've never taken a formal writing class--though many people I respect have and sometimes it seems like they're all around me like leaves in the fall.

Still, I've resisted.

Often in this business and in life, we're handed something difficult or inchoate. Often, we just aren't in the mood. Or people around you in your workspace that's allegedly designed to foment collaboration is so fucking noisy you can't concentrate your way out of a paper bag.

I'm afraid that's life.

Every profession from copywriting to housepainting has its vagaries. In my opinion, as copywriters, we don't get a choice. Your way through confusion to clarity is a path you must often blaze. If you wait for the perfect topic to present itself to you, or the most elegantly refined and disciplined brief, you might find yourself waiting yourself out of a job.

If I didn't write in this space until I had a fully-formed topic, this blog wouldn't right now be the 17,279th most-popular blog on advertising written by an old Jew from Yonkers.

My point is simple.

This most I can tell you about writing is this: write. Write your way through confusion, through noise, through intractable problems. 

Think of writing not as something elevated and erudite, but as something rudimentary and basic. Banish phrases like "I'm not feeling it" from your head. Imagine if you had a leaky toilet and the plumber said that.

Writing, yes, is an art. But don't use that as an excuse.

Treat it more as a bodily function, like breathing. Make it something you do to stay alive. Something that's at the core of who you are.

I've never written anything importat. I am miles away from anything like "Absalom, Absalom." But still, I am a professional writer who gets paid to make things clear and interesting.

If you want to do the same, there's only one way to start.


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