That’s right! It’s time once again for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I draw from 15 years as a newspaper columnist to offer insightful writing tips that Publisher’s Digest has heralded as:
“Wisdom ahead of its time, assuming you’re running late…”
And what The Master of Horror® Stephen King calls:
“Writing affirmations that keep my lawyer on speed dial…”
But enough accolades!
As I mentioned in last week’s NWOW, this week’s edition was going to be a little different thanks to fellow blogger/columnist/
Canadian friend Ross Murray at Drinking Tips for Teens, who invited me to be a part of the #mywritingprocesss Blog Tour. There are several reasons I’m both excited and flattered to be a part of this blog tour, which highlights the creative process of different writers each week. I’m excited because sharing my process might be helpful to other writers; I’m flattered because Ross admitted I was “On a short list of writers, after my dog chewed up most of it.”
That kind of affirmation from a writer of his caliber is something you can’t measure, especially since I don’t understand the metric system. However, what I DO know is that, in addition to appreciating him as a writer who never fails to seamlessly weave together humor and enlightenment, Ross is on my short list of people I plan to share coffee (or possibly something stronger) with some day.
And by “stronger” I mean pure Canadian maple syrup.
In the interest of fairness, I’d like to point out I also have a list of short people I plan to have a drink with some day.
Now… on to yet another list, which consists of the four questions asked on the blog tour:
1) Do you prefer a wooden paddle or riding crop?
Um… Hold on a second.
Sorry! Wrong blog tour! How embarrassing! For Ross, I mean, who must’ve sent the wrong list. I’ll just check with Nic DiDomizio or Bill Pearse, who are bloggers also participating in the #mywritingprocess tour this week, and use a set of their questions. This will just take a second…
Ok, that’s better.
1) Why do I write what I do?
I grew up surrounded by funny people in my family. My parents, grandparents, cousins, my older half-brothers — they always had me laughing. Naturally, that humorous synergy continues to play a big part of my life at home, at work, in bed, etc. At the same time, while growing up, I was also surrounded by alcoholism that eventually led to my parents’ divorce. I learned at an early age how humor can also be a powerful force in getting through tough times and, more importantly, helping see things from a different perspective. I think it’s why I’m drawn to satire in particular; satire is all about lighting a slow fuse leading to an explosion that blows things completely out of proportion. When it’s done right, for that brief moment you’re up in the air, you see things from a different perspective. In today’s world, I think we need perspective on a regular basis — and humor is a universally accepted, non-confrontational way to offer that. Do I always try to enlighten people in my columns and posts? No. Sometimes I’m basically just making fart sounds with my armpits.
2) How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I honestly don’t think about trying to be different. As a writer, the most important thing is to establish your own “voice.” It takes practice, experimentation and — particularly for humor writers — learning how to wield the tools you have as a writer to create timing and visual cues in your sentence structure in order to get the most out of your punchlines. In the same way we recognize a friend in the distance by their walk, posture and the clothes they wear, readers recognize writers. Sure, we all have the same general appearance, but it’s the little things we do naturally that establish us as individuals. Except for Carrot Top.
3) How does my writing process work?
On the days I post to my blog, I arrive at work by 5 a.m. I prefer to write early in the morning because, in addition to fewer distractions, I’m not really awake yet. I find this is more conducive to freethinking. I flip open my iPad, plug in my headphones, turn on AC/DC and take a few sips of coffee. Though I usually have a rough idea of what my topic will be when I sit down to write, I try not to overthink it until I’m actually sitting at the keyboard. I’ve learned to trust my instincts, so I like things to develop as I write, as opposed to using an outline. I think this works well for humor because the funniest things are almost always born out of spontaneity. It’s like performing stand-up, except I get to sit down. Oh, and if I bomb, no one knows it but me. I also respond to comments or Tweets if they pop up as I’m writing. It doesn’t interrupt my flow and, for me at least, keeps the creativity flowing by maintaining that level of spontaneity.
Or maybe I just have a short attention span.
Before I post, I read the piece out loud. If my tongue gets tripped up, the piece needs more polishing. That’s also when I check for timing. Do I need to add a pause? Elaborate more? What can I cut? Those are some of the questions I ask myself before I push the “publish” button or send my column out to other newspapers. I also try to be done with my post by 9 a.m. since 1) that’s when other reporters start rolling into the newsroom, and 2) I like to write in the nude. Wait, did I mention that?
4) What am I working on?
I work at a newspaper. So if you are reading this on a Friday or Tuesday, chances are I am trying to meet my deadline by corroborating information and doggedly pursuing leads on things like “cow patty bingo ” or “inflatable churches.” Other than that, I’m either writing a post for my own blog, or the online comedy magazine Long Awkward Pause. I also have a book (far right), released in January, that is available at Walmart, Target or any other parking lot I happened to be parked in.
I truly hope answering these questions about my writing process has been helpful and provided some insight. If not, blame Ross’s dog, Bella. She’s the one who ate most of his list.
That said, I’d like to introduce you to the next bloggers who are climbing aboard the #mywritingprocess Blog Tour bus next week:
Marcia lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando. I swear her proximity to Disney World and my family vacation this summer has nothing to do with why I asked her to be part of this tour. I chose her because she is a terrific and devoted writer who knew as early as age five what she wanted to do. But after getting her fill of alligator wrestling, she is pursuing her other dream of being a published author some 65 years later. Does that mean she’s 65 now? Or 70? To be honest, I’m afraid to ask because she could probably take me down. Either way, she is now a published author of three books, including “Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel,” which was just released May 1. Visit her blog, Bookin’ It, for a look at her writing process, as well as book reviews, author interviews and how to body-slam a 300-pound gator.
Robyn embodies many of the qualities every writer must have in order to find their “voice,” and as someone who has not only survived domestic violence but speaks out against it, her voice is an important one. She also wears glasses and has really good hair, which are also important qualities to have as a writer. As I mentioned earlier, I believe humor is a powerful force in dealing with life, and Robyn embodies that quality as well, using it to share life lessons in ways that are thoughtful and funny. One of her most recent posts, Kill Me Now Karma… is just one example. Her thought-provoking piece 103 People Unfriended Her… earned Robyn her first Freshly Pressed nod. I say “first” because I know there will be more. Visit her at BLOG Woman!! to learn about her writing process and what it means to make a difference with your words.
That brings us to the end of this portion of the #mywritingprocess Blog Tour. Thanks so much for joining me and I hope you will continue the tour next week! But before you leave, would you mind giving our Volkswagen a push? I think the starter is going out and we forgot to park on a hill…
(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)
37 thoughts on “Dude, where’s my blog tour? Oh, right — it’s at #mywritingprocess”
It’s quite generous of you to share the pre-publishing process (and of Bella to keep you on the short list).
I love being around funny people, and I love reading humor essays, and while I’m willing to bet most humor writers are funny people, the converse isn’t necessarily true.
Your notion of checking to see what can be cut is helpful. Coco Chanel reportedly said that before she left home, she would take off at least one piece of jewelry (paraphrasing – I wasn’t there). I should probably check this comment and take off a bracelet or something before clicking the “post comment” button, shouldn’t I? What the heck. It’s Friday….
Thanks so much; that’s very kind of you to say 😉
And as I mentioned in the post, I often write in the nude. That’s mostly because of what Coco said.
Ned Hickson! How did you learn about my career as an alligator wrestler? I wore a MASK over my Wonder Woman of the Swamps costume! Were you peeking in the ladies dressing room window again? (And I use the term “Ladies” very loosely here. We are talking about alligator wrestling, after all!)
At any rate, even though you have exposed one of my secrets, the other (the fact that I’m 70 now) will remain hidden from prying eyes forever. What’s that? Too late? Oh, dang. Now people will know I’m old. As if the gray hair, failing hearing and eyesight, and time-weary posture weren’t clues enough. Soldiering on bravely, I remain grateful to you for such kind words (the check is in the mail), and for inviting me to participate in this blog tour. I may have to take the serious route, since I can’t possibly compete with what you have just written. I guess that’s only fair, you being a humor columnist and all, and me…well, not.
Great piece, Young Ned. And thanks again.
Your Fan In Florida (after this, there may be others, though)
Marcia (PS, You bet your Aunt Fanny I could take you! Be afraid. Be very afraid.)
Reblogged this on Bookin' It and commented:
Ned’s post for the #mywritingprocess blog tour is hilarious. And oh, yeah…I’m in it, too! 😀 Check it out!
the issue with writing under a pseudonym is that while you create the anonymity you feel you need, you also develop the inability to openly write under your real name, because as you recognized, astute readers recognize your verbal cadence, your written voice. i often wonder if the freedom of expression and ability to avoid personal confrontation, is worth the sacrifice.
It’s definitely a trade-off, much like most decisions we make in life that have to do with revealing parts of ourselves. On the flip-side, I’m pretty sure there are times when my kids wish I wrote under a pseudonym… 😉
I’d read a shopping list if it was written by you, Ned – and your honored guests, for that matter – but I need to warn you: When it comes to physical labor, I get paid to break my back, buddy.
And my continued appreciation, Robert 😉
You’re a clever one, Ned Hickson.
My support will never waver, buddy.
I’m not sure you’ll still feel that way if you ever see my luggage.
Ok, I think I may have identified the major problem – much like a good psychiatrist can listen intently and then make the issues clear from your own words, so I have figured it out. In one section you state:”In the same way we recognize a friend in the distance by their walk, posture and the clothes they wear…” And then; “I like to write in the nude.” So,I would deduce from that orginal metaphor that you often stride down the street naked. To avoid police attention, it must be necessary to be able to turn any inquiries into humourous situations.Hence you have created a situation where you either have to be funny or risk gong to jail. A definite tool to stop writers block.
Great post Ned! Thanks.
It’s true I’m often stopped on the street. But usually by the police.
My work here is done.
Thanks for coming in.
Thank you so much Ned. I wish I could be as off the wall funny as you, but I guess I will just lean more on my hair and glasses. I’m so glad I left the bio part in your capable hands – you renewed my desire to bring out the pom-poms again. I’m not sure I’ll live up to your awesome example on the tour, but I will post it on Monday and duck behind the hedges.
Thanks again, you and your writing details are just so much awesome sauce!
It was my pleasure, Robyn. And I have no doubt you’ll “live up to my example” just by being yourself. Not to say that I’m a woman, or that I have glasses and great hair.
Well, maybe the hair part.. 😉
By the way, I’m having the hedges trimmed so you can’t hide.
Yeahhhh, in a hair contest, I’m still pretty sure you’d win, at least for height. We don’t call you Neddy Sauve’ for nothin’. 😉
Bucket List Request:
To be a mouse in the corner when Ross and Ned meet for drinks and Canadian syrup.
Pay no attention to the microphone…it’s for research purposes only.
On a more serious note: I now read my posts out loud thanks to you–that totally works and explains the ease with your words flow. I DID miss the part about doing that prior to posting–so, um, I’ll try that next time. It’s the little things, right??!
Happy Friday 🙂
We’ll see what we can do about making that bucket list item happen, and also try to keep from getting the microphone sticky. No promises, though.
So glad to hear my suggestion to read your writing out loud is helpful. It’s a habit I formed a long time ago, and one of the reasons I stopped writing while sitting on the commode. Especially in public facilities.
And a Happy, HAPPY Friday to you as well, Michelle 😉
OMG! The boys in the blogosphere have me rolling today. Thank you for the belly laugh…there is Mountain Dew is everywhere!
With your affinity for earth and the woodlands, I pictured you drinking something more Spritely…
I didn’t tell you what was in my MD 🙂
Ha! I’m pretty sure I can guess 😉
Love the tips. I’ll feel like a dork reading my posts out loud, but I know it will help. Oh, and if you have any extra maple syrup, feel free to share.
I’m so glad to hear that! By the way, the more maple syrup you consume, the less reading out loud makes you feel silly.
Wisdom ahead of it’s time, for sure. That problem with the possessive really freaks me out, like a pimple. I really enjoyed this, and fun that I get to read your first post here, after you gave me that nice shout-out and note about Seattle, yesterday. So glad to have made the connection, and look forward to hooking up some day, here or there. Hither or thither. Enjoy the evening and fuck yeah on the AC/DC. ’74 Jailbreak, baby! – Bill
An inside look at Ned Hickson’s mind? Yes, please and thank you! I really appreciate your incredible knack for writing humor, I could never do it. I’ve tried but it’s never pretty 🙂 So reading your blog fills me with giggles every day and I couldn’t ask for more! Thanks for sharing your process!
I really appreciate that, Abbie, and it’s my pleasure! Besides, I could never be pretty, so I guess that makes things even 😉
Thanks for reading!
Hahaha 😊 You’re making me blush!
“Sometimes I’m basically just making fart sounds with my armpits.”
Could you cover a blog on that topic one day perhaps? I feel it’s a quality I’m lacking:S
The trick is using the right deodorant in order to create a good suction. When we were kids, we licked our hands first. There’s no way I’m doing that now.
I was about forty-five minutes away from where your Canadian (why you scratch that part out baffles me) friend Ross Murray on the weekend. You do realize you have another option for that gold you refer to? I will be going back and forth from Lennoxville, Quebec for two more years. Plus if I do recall you were thought of while I grocery shopped, I stopped & tweeted you a picture of the Quebec gold? Maybe I will move up on that friend list? 😉
Liquid gold! Except syrupy color. How can I forget! Oh, and I only scratched out “Canada” because that’s where the similarities between Ross and I end. Although he has a better beard. Probably the syrup rinse.
Oh men with beards.