Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I take the writing insights gained from 16 years as a columnist and, much like the first remnants of fruitcake to arrive this holiday season, offer slices to people despite their objections and threats of physical harm.
It’s a feature Writers Digest has called, “…Tips every writer should know if they want to be successful. But not necessarily as a writer…”
And what Oprah’s Book Club recently heralded as “…An important reminder as to why we have a book club…”
But enough accolades!
I’m going to open this week’s NWOW with a simple truth:
Step one to being 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:
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?
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…
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, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)
36 thoughts on “Forget about that image of Bruce Jenner and start writing”
I love your suggestions. Hmmm, maybe if I started drinking coffee again it would have the same affect as alcohol… at least on me. I become an energizer bunny on steroids. Now otherwise, the advantage of growing old is that I don’t remember what Bruce Jenner did! PHEW! Now, if only my humor flowed as easily as yours. Thanks for the chuckle and your wisdom! 😉
Ha! Thanks so much, Gwynn!
It won’t be long until I’m old enough to UNremember what I’ve seen of Bruce Jenner lately.
Hey, if you take enough Fish Oil and one of the Statin medications, I promise, you WILL forget what you have seen of Bruce Jenner! Now, I’m going to go Google him! 😉
Now, do you ever read other blogs and make suggestions to help people with their humor… that is besides suggesting euthanasia?
I’ve tried swallowing fish oil. Once. I’m still trying to forget it.
And while I wouldn’t presume to make unsolicited suggestions to blogs I visit, I’m always happy to help in any way I can. If you’d ever like a second opinion, just let me know. That includes medical procedures and buying stocks 😉
Fish oil comes in pills too. The pills are about the size of the fish, but they slide right down. They DO keep your heart healthy.
I started my blog as a form of catharsis so now, it has taken another direction… somewhat. To save you embarrassment… I’ll just say, if you Google my name then look for Gwynn’s Grit and Grin. My blog is exactly what it implies. Also, my email is email@example.com should you be crazy enough to risk responding. Thanks
I’m pretty sure I’m at LEAST that crazy, Gwynn 😉
Ummm, Ned? How am I ever going to forget about Bruce Jenner’s image if you keep reposting this post? 🙂
Ha! Hey, it could be worse; I could’ve included a Bruce Jenner gif…
I will possibly never forgive you for Bruce Jenner, especially in light of the fact that my corneas were permanently seared by a tabloid mugshot of him the other day in the checkout line. Holy-moly, I’m scarred for life, but at least I’m out of kindergarten so the statute of limitations will be shortened in my case. Coffee and alcohol, eh? Add a few meds and an e-cig to the mix and you have my writing method in a nutshell. Or nuthouse, I hear you thinking. Hmm, thought maybe if I socially interacted with you for long enough, inspiration for today’s blog post would strike, but apparently it’s gonna be up to the meds today. Stay tuned …
There’s only one thing that will rub off on by socially interacting with me. Fortunately there is medication for that.
One of my favorite quotes is by the writer Wayson Choi (and likely many others): “The only secret to writing is AC: Ass on Chair.” ‘Tis true for the most part. Now, what beverage we choose to bring with us is anyone’s bet…
People look at me funny when I admit I write every day. Or maybe people just look at me funny.
I think you’re fine; they’re just funny looking.
Hahahaha! That made me laugh…funny looking. 🙂
I remember reading this the first time and the advice still rings true…stay away from Bruce Jenner.
Seriously though, the whole “just write” concept was what got me through NaNoWriMo. Some days I sat down without a single idea about what to write next and wrote anyway. Now, I have a lot of crap that belongs in the commode you mentioned, but I have some other stuff I’ll be able to use.
Love these Friday columns, Ned! How is YOUR NWOW book coming?
Commode-worthy writing is always better than no writing at all, Michelle. Just like learning not to eat certain Indian foods, we learn from the writing we end up flushing, too.
As for my NWOW book, it’s taking longer to put together than I’d hoped. Mostly because of other things that have come up — all positive, but still require time — that I needed to make a priority. I’ve actually been invited to a guest on a new morning TV show, which is going to be fun. Plus the book signing fundraiser for our local women’s shelter later this month…
Anyway, I want to do it right, so I’m taking my time so it will be something special 😉
Very cool, Ned! Thanks for update. When can we expect to see you on Netflix?!
If I show up on Netflix, move th family underground because it will be a sign of the apocolypse.
Thanks for the update, Ned.
It will be worth the wait!!
Warning…I’m keeping a list of questions in my head just for you as it relates to the whole publishing process. Lucky for you, I have about 400 e-mails to catch up on after laying on the beach for a week.
Hope you are doing well!
I’d say a week of beach time is well worth the price of returning to 400 emails. Sounds like my typical Monday, though. Once I slog through the Cialis and Viagra spam.
Things are going good here. My wife and I are getting away for a weekend in “the big city” after the book signing on Saturday. No kiddos that weekend, so we’re staying overnight in Eugene, Christmas shopping, eating out and… uh, whatever. We do that ever year. The Christmas shopping weekend, not the “whatever…”
A weekend in the city with your woman sounds divine. We’ll hold the fort down while you’re gone.
Where do you keep the good booze and fruitcake?
Hahaha! I’m not telling you where the booze is but help yourself to the fruitcake. It’s holding the corner of the coffee table up.
The Big Gulp hasn’t been outlawed in your state yet? 😉
The long-haul truck drivers willnever let that happen.
” 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.”
Now that is what I call an apt metaphor.
Ha! Sad but true, Michael.
I’ve taken your advice to heart, Ned.
Book Two is a few hundred words from completion – at last!
And some of those words even make sense when grouped together!
Congratulations, Robert! That it makes sense I mean 😉
I have no set routine. Looking back at my output in the past year, I think that’s as good an explanation as any.
That makes sense. They say highsight is 20/20.
Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, then it more like 40/40.
The only thing wrong with this post is the mention of Bruce Willis. Now I can’t get his plastic face our of my mind.
I enjoy your humor in writing about a serious subject.
Thanks, Meredith! And I am serious: Bruce freaks me out.
Well apparently you’re living up to your advice. Holy spamoley, you’re over 6,000 of us now! Congrats! And, I didn’t even have to don ‘the skirt’.
Well, Tom Nardone says he’s holding cheerleading trials in January, so someone might have use for the ol’ pompoms yet. XD
I still think you should don the skirt regardless. But not Tom.
That’s where I’m going wrong! I have been NOT writing, even commenting on other’s blogs, for months now. It’s been so long, I’ve even forgotten why. Now I’m trying to catch up. Be patient.
You will always have my patience. And appreciation 😉