Thursday, October 01, 2009

How to cure sick writing


Right now I'm sitting on the couch surrounded by tissues and tea and Tylenol, taking a sick day for the first time in months. Nothing is more aggravating than a common cold. You don't feel good, you don't feel awful, you just feel blehhhhhhhhhhhh.

Wait, I lied. There is something more aggravating than a bleh body -- bleh writing. You've suffered it before. It's that dehydrated, congested, feverish copy that makes readers keep their distance and use Purell after turning the page.

So how can you heal your writing and make it contagious in a good way? Here's a three-part prescription:

1. Visit the doctor. A good doctor -- in this case, editor -- has the knowledge and objectivity to blood-let the bad humors and get your writing back on track. Don't discount your instincts, however. You know your body of work best and can sense when the diagnosis isn't the exact right fit. Play these informative sources off one another for a more holistic assessment of what ails a given piece.

2. Take your medicine. No one likes to take a knife to their writing, but sometimes you have to. Make the experience more comfortable by giving the piece a rest. Take a break from it, work on another project, exercise your mind with different (non-writing) activity -- anything that helps you swallow the bitter pills that will ultimately make you feel better.

3. Practice preventative healthcare. Basically, you're less likely to get sick if you keep yourself healthy. Make writing a part of your routine so you're always working the creative muscles. Take a class, join a writing group, read literary blogs, or check out a library book every so often to keep yourself stretching and growing in new directions. The more ideas, techniques, and self-awareness you have circulating, the more immune you'll be to uninspired writing.

Ok, I'm spent. The cold meds have caught up with me, so naptime it is. Hope your writing gets well soon! Share any tips I missed in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment