How to be a Good Writer

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Anyone can do it

Kitty Hannah Eden

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Can a change of weather cause creative constipation?

Writers have a bad rap as fragile egos bundled into layers of nerves likely to fray at the mere atmospheric disturbance. Some even speak of writer’s block with a mixture of awe, reverence, and fear, as if it were a constant threat they must do battle with, day in, day out.

And yet, writer’s block is nothing but the oldest excuse in the world, a way to justify to yourself and others why you’re not doing the work. Words may elude you but it isn’t because of some supernatural force ruling creativity. Perhaps you don’t trust yourself to articulate your ideas, perhaps you’re tired, or perhaps motivation is in short supply.

Alas, because capitalism loves to manufacture a problem and offer solutions, writer’s block is also a way to market innumerable writing aids no one needs.

In the same vein, writer’s block is the preferred topic of those whose only editorial achievement is to write about being writers who write about writing and whose stock-in-trade is peddling false hope. And expounding at length about “process”, yet another construct designed to infuse writing with an aura of mystery it does not have.

If you’re already beset by self-doubt, read one of too many of those pieces and you’ll probably give up before you’ve even started.

But there’s nothing esoteric about putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, millions of people around the world do it every single day. To those of us for whom writing has been an actual job for years, the mere mention of writer’s block is a pet peeve.

For example, I don’t know a single journalist who would dare tell their editor that, no, they’re not going to be able to file a piece today because they’re suffering from a bad case of writer’s block.

In an industry ruled by deadlines and unpredictability, you just get on with writing regardless of whether you feel like it or not. Writer’s block is a running joke because journalism is a profession calling for accountability and reliability. News break at the most inconvenient times, in the most inconvenient ways.

Which isn’t to say professionals don’t frequently struggle with a piece of writing, everyone does. Applying language to thoughts, ideas, and facts requires clarity of mind and skills; execution varies a little from one piece to the next, even with style guides.

This happens in any profession.

Even the most skilled of chefs see their soufflé collapse sometimes.

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