Don’t panic! That sound you heard was just my idea flopping

image Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, that time each week when I gather the writing wisdom gained through 15 years as a columnist and share tips that Publisher’s Clearing House has called “A POTENTIAL WINNER!” and what Writer’s Monthly recently heralded as “Writing advice you can’t find anywhere else. And we’re making sure of it…”

But enough accolades!

Let’s be honest. Even a seasoned humor columnist sometimes has an idea that falls flat. And if last week’s NWOW idea had fallen any flatter the aftershocks would have been picked up by seismologists in China. As you might remember, last week I tried something different. Unfortunately, that’s an experience my wife would rather forget. However, you might also remember I tried something different with my Nickel’s Worth by attempting to make it an interactive post similar to a blog hop, with me posting part of a scene and then letting everyone else take a crack at finishing it — then sending me the link.

As of this morning I remain linkless.

And let me point out my being linkless has absolutely nothing to do with the other thing my wife asked me not to talk about.

At any rate, I did learned something important, which is that what may sound fun to one person can make someone else feel uncomfortable or “put on the spot” if it requires their active participation. Again, just to clarify, I’m talking about last week’s blog post and not the other thing, so please try to stay with me people.

It’s our job, as writers, to explore ideas and make attempts to engage our readers in different ways. Does anyone remember the old “Flip” books, where at certain points in the story you are faced with a decision and, depending on your choice, flip to a certain page to continue the action?

If you do, click HERE

If you don’t, HERE

If you feel uncomfortable or too shy to participate, please click HERE

Go ahead — Click one! I’ll wait here…


Welcome back! As I was saying…

Wait — does anyone remember what I was saying?

Yes, you in the back with your hand raised and legs crossed. *sigh* It’s through that door and to the left, just past the soda machine. And please flush.

Hey, I remember now! It’s important for us, as spouses writers, to try new things find ways to engage our readers, even if it means wearing a lion costume taking a risk and being locked out of the bedroom falling flat on our faces. The same philosophy applies to taking the risk of sending your manuscript, short story, magazine article, speeding ticket explanation, etc., out into the world.

Sometimes the resulting failure is immediate, slamming into your face like a bedroom door flung closed by an unhappy spouse yelling “This isn’t Wild Kingdom!” Other times, failure comes after many weeks, in the form of a rejection letter. In either case, it’s important to remember this:

Without the risk of failure there is no measure of success.

That’s why I don’t regret my NWOW falling flat last week. I learned something important, which is that what makes this weekly NWOW feature “successful” is people coming here for some writing insight and a few laughs. Not homework. Who wants that?

Fine, you in the back corner with your hand raised. But you should know this blog doesn’t count toward any college credits.

*Door slams*

Great. Thanks for coming.

As for everyone else, I truly appreciate your continued support and honesty with this feature and the blog in general. I just realized it’s about to hit 5,700 followers in spite of my being linkless.

On another note, if anyone is in the market for a lion costume, feel free to contact me.

You know the link…

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...

43 thoughts on “Don’t panic! That sound you heard was just my idea flopping”

      1. Well, I don’t know. I have a degree in journalism and am a recovering alcoholic who was a stringer for AP and covered the ’72 McGovern campaign in California. I’ve had my fair share of risks. But you’re right. I think we have a tendency to whine just a little. Well, maybe not me…

        1. I expended all of my cyber-tech knowledge for this one. Although with the confidence I’ve gained, I may try recording to TV shows at once! On two separate VCRs…

  1. It was a fun idea, really! I think people just have so much going on they don’t always have time to participate in those types of things. Probably one of the reasons why I’m such a party pooper and turn down requests to guest post. I can barely write 2-3 posts for my own blog per month. Such a slacker I can be.

    1. I totally get that.
      That you’re a slacker I mean…

      Seriously Carrie, I couldn’t agree more with the squeeze for time everyone has. I just truly appreciate seeing your smiling Gravitar whenever it shows up, and your thoughtful and fun comments 😉

  2. That is not to say that my thoughts did not turn to Eddie Rabbit the wheels did turn; imagining where I might go with the prompt but ultimately I suppose I turned the ideas every which way but tight. :/

  3. I had planned to come back and contribute. Then I drank like a fool on Saturday. I recovered around Wednesday, at which point it was too late to recover any memories from the weekend. Fail. But at least I’m in good company with this one.

              1. I needed some cat litter Saturday, between the morning drinking and afternoon drinking, and again before the evening drinking (now that was definitely too much :). Apparently I’m not in college anymore. Who knew?

  4. One small flop for man, one giant flop for mankind!
    You are a remarkable man and writer. Only YOU could make a valuable lesson out of this! I, too, get ideas that sound so much better in my head than they appear on paper.

    Now…I’m off to the chiropractor. I may have twisted something on that last flip 🙂

    1. Aw, thanks Michelle! I’ve spent my life trying to make something valuable out of my mistakes. I should be worth a fortune by now!

      Now get that back taken care of; your husband just bought my lion costume… 😉

  5. I used to adore Art Linkletter, but now you are The Missing Link.

    I always thought Flip Books were those little books that you would ruffle the pages really fast and in the upper right hand corner, a hand drawn man in a lion costume would become animated one page at a time. So what are those little books called? Or are you too young??

    1. Hahaha! I really hope you run out of pages before the end of that lion animation!

      Actually, I think your technically right about the Flip Book definition. And I do remember seeing one once. My mom used to give me empty note pads to make my own. I just couldn’t come up with a decent two-word name for “Those books where you get to choose the course of the story.”

      I hope that doesn’t mean I’ll have to give up my new title as The Missing Link 😉

  6. I’m sorry you’re linkless I hope that it’s not too cold. I love your “Click Here” thing. Here’s hoping that you have a flop free week with lots of linky (or is that kinky) love.

    Hang on to the costume just in case..

  7. I loved the idea but was too busy to jump in, what with living out my choose-your-own-adventure book through online dating and all. I assumed it had been a huge success and your link had more hops than an IPA, so it’s actually very cool that you shared the results. Knowing that a truly accomplished writer whiffs every now and again emboldens those of us who are about to toss our manuscripts out of the nest. Or out the window. Possibly while aflame.

    1. Embolden is my middle name! Or is it Holden? Actually it’s James, so never mind. Anyway, I completely understand and am just glad it turned into a positive. And watch it with that manuscript! I am sure it is brilliant. Besides, I’m a firefighter and if it’s flaming I may have to come put it out.

  8. I wasn’t crazy about last week’s post plus I am reading it so late I didn’t think it would be appropriate to participate. But I like your NWOW posts & usually read them . . . eventually. Merry Christmas? Happy New Year?

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