Feed That Dog! – How I smashed writer’s block and you can too

I only started having problems with writer’s block when I hit my 30s.  Most writers know the symptoms all too well.  Do you have a fantastic idea for a story but just don’t know where to start?  Do you find yourself staring at a blank screen for hours?  Do you feel like a failure and doubt whether you will ever be able to write anything of worth again?

I had an epiphany when I realised the true source of the problem: that I didn’t need to write. I had a fine job that paid the bills.  Writing was a bonus extra – fun, but in no way essential.  I thought of writers who have inspired me.  Young Philip K Dick (who I tweeted as) lived in squalor – a leaky house full of mice – and he hated the idea of a standard 9-5 job so much it pushed him to write to pay the bills.  Kurt Vonnegut was similar: he desperately wanted to quit his PR job working for General Electric and knew his only escape was selling cynically targeted short stories to mass-market ‘slicks’.

This led me, a number of years ago now, to crystallise my first piece of advice for aspirational writers:

Find Your Need

Find your need, and once you’ve found it, put it in front of you.  Literally put it in front of you. Staple your energy bills to the front of your writing journal.  Blue-tack The Guardian’s ‘Top 100 novelists’ to your wall (you need to be in there).  Take a photo of the rejection letter from that pompous editor you need to prove wrong and save it to your homepage.

But that’s not enough.  Continue reading “Feed That Dog! – How I smashed writer’s block and you can too”

Reviews vs. Reflections

[I have only just realised, after writing this whole post, that this is really just a PR plug for a podcast I’m involved in, ‘The Proof is in the Podcast’.  Feel free to just go straight to the chitter-chatter first.]

There are clearly many forms of writing which have become well established over time: The Novel, The Short Story, The Poem etc.  We know these forms, so we know what to expect e.g.  we know that a short story can probably be finished whilst travelling on The District Line between Earl’s Court and Tower Hill – with a twist hopefully kicking in somewhere near Monument.  Now, just another one of these forms, which has become quite as ubiquitous as the others, is The Review (a poor example of which I sort of ‘coughed up’ down below).  And I have to confess that there are some aspects of reviews that I just don’t get. Continue reading “Reviews vs. Reflections”