It’s my 500th post but I swear: I don’t feel a day over 499 posts

Where the magic happens. Or so I keep telling my editor...
Where the magic happens. Or so I keep telling my editor…
In addition to the wild excitement my weekly Nickel’s Worth on Writing usually generates… (See? Did you feel that?) … this week’s NWOW has the added distinction of being [cue pocket drum machine] my 500th post!

WHOA LADIES! Keep those tops ON!

You too, sir.

Since pushing the “publish” button on my first post about two years ago, more than 62,000 people have stopped in at some point — mostly while Google searching “monkey butts” or “Cheeto Clog” — and 5,250 of you decided to stay. I am very thankful for that and a little surprised, especially considering there are no Cheeto-clogged monkey butts anywhere on this blog. I’ve looked. And so has PETA.

Also over that same period, I’ve shared more than 50 weekly acorns of NWOW writing insights gathered through 15 years as a newspaper columnist tending the tree of literary wisdom — all of which I am currently squirreling away into an eBook that Publisher’s Digest has already predicted will be “…writing tips that are nuts.”

So as I continue the last few days of my vacation working on the final draft, I’d like to offer this excerpt which, while appearing fundamental, is often more difficult than it seems — and the first step I took toward reaching this 500th post.

Thanks to all of you who have joined me along the way. At some point, though, we should probably stop and ask someone for directions…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Step one to becoming a writer: Write


That advice seems pretty straight forward. The kind of obvious straight forwardness that carries you with complete confidence toe-first into a brick. Like most advice we’re given, the wisdom behind it is simple; the problem comes in the execution.

And while there are countless books out there offering tips on everything from how to get inspired and avoid writer’s block to the kinds of foods that promote creative thinking (which, judging from what I read, you will be doing mostly while on the commode), all of those books essentially come down to one universal truth:

Nothing promotes and stimulates writing better than…

You guessed it:

Excessive drinking.

But let’s suppose you don’t want to become an alcoholic? Does that mean you’re not truly committed to being a writer? Could it jeopardize your dream of becoming a novelist, columnist, short story writer or inner city tagger?

Let me answer those questions by answering the single most important question you’re probably asking yourself right now:

Has HE been drinking?

Of course not.


I have four children, remember?

Regardless, my point is that the other universal truth to writing is this:

The fastest way to jumpstart the writing process is to put your fingers to the keyboard and just start writing.

I purposely sat down to write this column without any preparation. I did this to 1) challenge myself, and 2) because I really had no idea what I was going to write anyway, so it seemed like a good plan. To that end, I started putting words on the screen.

Did I take a wrong turn or two?


Four, actually.

But the beauty of writing is that — like the Kardashians — nothing is permanent, and you can easily fix imperfections by injecting or removing the things you don’t like.

And many times, what you thought was going to be a wrong turn or dead end leads to a doorway you hadn’t expected — or at least a window you can jump out of.

Especially if you walk in on Bruce Jenner getting a body wax.

OK, in an effort to move on quickly from that image, how about a show of hands from anyone who has ever found themselves staring at a blank screen with their fingers poised over the keyboard, even if they have applied my advice?

Seriously, I’m watching, so get them up.

I ask this because, in spite of my advice, there are still times when you need to jumpstart your jumpstart.

Something I’ve discovered from writing a daily blog is that the interaction with other writers on blogs and websites — whether replying to a comment or leaving one on another writer’s site — is a great way to grease the creative process.

… Great, just when I had gotten past that image of Bruce Jenner…

Sorry, everyone.

Anyway, starting your day with some social interaction at your computer not only gets you into writing position at the keyboard, but can get the creative process started by reading others’ work, getting inspired by it, and formulating responses or comments in a creative frame of mind.

Warning: Set a time limit!

As I can attest, it’s easy to lose track of time, or become so caught up in commenting and replying that your momentum is carried in the wrong direction. I usually give myself until I finish my first cup of coffee.

Which, by the way, I have switched from the giant 128-ounce Big Gulp size to a standard mug. Not only because I was using it as an excuse to blog until noon, but also because I discovered my bladder only holds 120 ounces.

Bottom line, once you’ve established a writing routine, solidify it by putting words on the page — whether for your actual writing project or during a social network warm-up — each time you sit down at the keyboard. Before you know it, your writing will be waiting for you in your mental queue at the same time each day.

Assuming you can get the image of Bruce Jenner out of your mind.

Again, my apologies for that.

(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, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

56 thoughts on “It’s my 500th post but I swear: I don’t feel a day over 499 posts”

      1. I appreciate your discretionary use of the generalization “Sir” but I’ve gone an outted myself now. Congrats and here’s to another 500, cheers!

  1. Another great post. Congrats on 500 posts. What an awesome accomplishment. I’m a recent convert and every post I read of yours always brings a smile to my face. Here’s hoping the next 500 is even more special and full of humor.

  2. If posts were miles, you would be the Indy 500!

    Ok, that was supposed to be a compliment. I need to sleep.


  3. Is that a re-post, Ned? Because this image of Bruce Jenner getting a body wax has been seared into my mind long time ago and was just starting to heal – until I read this. 🙂
    And congratulations!

  4. Congratulations, my friend…I knew if you repeated enough old posts, you’d reach the milestone you so richly deserve…or is that “millstone”?

    In any event, it is always fun to read your posts and I look forward to reading the next 117 that you’ll repost out to 1000.

    Best, my friend!

    1. Ha! Thanks, Randy! The good news is, by the time I get to 1,000, you probably won’t remember if there’s a repeat. Assuming you can still remember the name of this blog…

      Many thanks, my friend 😉

  5. I love sage advice dispensed through humor – it’s the best kind and most remembered! Congratulations on your posting milestone 🙂
    Your office has an uncanny resemblance to my studio…
    AnnMarie 🙂

      1. So you weren’t a figment of my imagination, or some “remnant of an underdone potato.” (I finally got to use that line from Dickens,’ A Christmas Carol)
        Happy sunday – funny man
        AnnMarie 🙂

  6. Although the absence of monkey butts has been a letdown each and every time I visit your site, I can’t but admire you’ve managed to write 500 posts without ever relying on monkey butts for content. That’s the kind of creativity only great minds possess. And alcoholics;)

    Congratulations on your 500th post! I’m very glad to know of your blog. I don’t follow a great many blogs, but yours has been a constant ever since I discovered it. It’s fun, clever, fun, thought provoking, fun and I can honestly say your writing has influenced my own…whether that influence is a good thing…well, I can only hope Stephen King’s lawyer will start writing me angry letters someday:P

    1. Thanks so much, Arend. Knowing I have had a small influence on such terrific writing means a lot. Or was it the drinking you were talking about?

      Either way, if Stephen King’s next novel is about rabid monkey butts, I think we’re both in trouble 😉

  7. As always, Ned, you are the bastion of writers’ fortifications (I’m not sure what that means but it sounds good). You are the Delphi of the Oracle of wisdom and sightseeing; the Mahatma in the Gandhi of writer’s cramp; the steel in the Pittsburgh of indurance . Well you get the picture. Always a pleasure reading your words of witdom. Happy 500th. Your 2nd biggest fan in Florida, Lucy

    1. HA! Lucy, if you don’t mind, I think I will include those qualifiers on the back cover of my next book 😉

      Thanks so much for being my 2nd biggest Floridian fan, Lucy 😉

  8. You’ve lapped me. (No, not like that…) I hit 250 last week and hit 3000 follows this week. I had a little celebration. It consisted of having ice cream with an extra scoop of ice cream.
    Congratulations, young man.

    1. Again, the parallels between us are staggering. To celebrate, I had a 5-gallon tub of Rocky Road ice cream, the last 1/2 gallon of which I chose to lap up without a spoon.

      Thanks, Ross — and congratulation to you as well. I’m very glad to be among those 3,000. Even if I don’t tell anyone.

  9. I read quite a number of blogs and I think what frustrates me the most, is after reading something, I realize I could have written about the same topic. I then don’t do it, because well, I don’t want to steal someone else’s idea. What do I do in this case?

    1. There are really no “new” ideas when it comes to storytelling/writing, only new perspectives. Don’t let someone having a similar topic stop you from writing about the same topic from your own perspective. If we did that, there wouldn’t be anything new on the bookshelves (or blogosphere) since Shakespeare. It’s your voice that makes it unique, not the topic 😉

  10. Congrats on 500! I can see that I have some catching up to do as I think I’ve only read about half.
    You know how I feel about your NWOW series and am looking forward to the book (movie? tv series? MTV video?). I’m reading “Bird by Bird” by Ann Lamott right now–it’s awesome! All that said…her best advice matches yours….WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
    Okay then, I will. Thank you!
    (PS: I saw you and your wife’s pic on Instagram. Holy Hottie! She’s gorgeous, Ned!)

    1. Thanks, Michelle! But I have to say, I’m pretty sure a music video about my NWOW would be the final nail in MTV’s coffin.

      Now go WRITE! 😉

      And yeah, my wife’s pretty danged gorgeous — inside and out. But those outsides… Wow 😉

  11. Hot damn, you’re a funny guy, Ned!
    That’s why I’m going to kill you last. (You can’t go wrong with an Arnold reference, can you?)

    At any rate, congrats on the 500 awesome posts. And before I go, you’re a damn fine human being, dad, father, blogger, friend, and writer, Ned. Don’t ever change.
    Okay, you can change your shorts… but that’s it!

    1. Thanks so much, Robert. It means a lot coming from someone one like you. Truly.

      That said, knowing I’ll die last means I can breathe a little easier. And so will everyone around me now that I can change my shorts.

      Thanks, my friend 😉

  12. *Thank you so much for putting the image of Bruce Jenner in my head just moments before I go to sleep.* If I have nightmares, it’s your fault. Congratulations on putting out 500 posts. Wow, that’s a lot of writing. Which makes sense, as you’re a writer. Great tip, as always. Write, write, write! Looking forward to more fine prose, or at least a chuckle or two.

    1. It makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one sleeping in fear of Bruce Jenner. And thank you for the kind words. At some point, I’m hoping to achieve both good prose and chuckles in the same post 😉

  13. I’ll definitely follow, just in case one day it’s critical for me to know more about Cheeto-clogged monkey butts.

    The other reason is because I read a comment you left on another blog which was a pretty awesome testimony to your mom.

    1. Whether zombie apocalypse or Cheeto-clogged monkey butts, I’ll do my best to make sure you’re prepared.

      And yeah, awesome testimony about my mom is easy since… well, she’s awesome. I appreciate your follow and have done the same — not out of reciprocation, but genuine appreciation from the honesty and courage you show on your blog 😉

      1. Sincere thanks for those validating words! I’ll be coming here mainly to laugh.

        I’m mostly prepared for the zombie apocalypse (dark chocolate, check…hidden bottle of emergency Cabernet, check… Cheetos in case of zombie monkeys, check… the last is thanks to you!)

        Please send a salute to your mom for me 🙂

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