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Family Man 2-22
How to overcome writer's block
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Do I ever get writer’s block? That’s the question I’m often asked when I do talks about my books or about what I do here at the paper.
Face it, for a writer one of the most intimidating things in the world is that blank page staring back at you. It’s just like a painter looking at a blank canvas. It’s probably one of the primary reasons most people who want to write a book or a novel or even a letter to the editor never put pen to paper. They can’t get past inking that first word on the page.
What makes it so intimidating? I personally look at it as an opportunity to do what no one has done before. Granted, there’s no such thing at this place in time as something totally original but there are things you can put your individual mark on that will be forever attributed to you.
I think folks look at the blank page and see lots of work ahead or perhaps they see doubt. They fear someone will make fun of them or laugh at their attempt so they decide not to do anything at all. It’s the cup half full or half empty deal. To be successful as a writer you need to have that cup half full mentality.
So, back to the original question. Do I ever get writer’s block? Yes and no. It may surprise you that I never get writer’s block when writing books. There is literally, every time I set down at the computer, something ready to go from brain to page. Actually the only limitation I have on putting out books at an alarming rate is time. If I had the time, I’d constantly be writing new books. However, they alone don’t pay the bills so until the time that R.D. Sherrill becomes famous enough to feed the bulldog, that’ll be my second career.
It may also surprise you, or not, that I never get writer’s block when it comes to newspaper stories. Despite being a small and peaceful town where people should want to raise their families, we have more than enough crime and court news to fill the paper every issue. My desk is usually backlogged with stories some that have to wait in line to run because there are so many. It’s truly rare, although it can happen from time to time, that there are slim pickings on what we call a slow news day.
There is one area where I do get writer’s block. You’re reading it right now. My weekly columns are often a source of consternation for me. It’s not writing them, it’s coming up with a good idea for the column. Once that idea is in there I can rattle it off in no time. I’ve been writing a column for 26 years so you tend to cover a lot of ground over a quarter of a century.
However, you may have noticed, despite that block, you read a new personal column every week. You just have to write that first word and the rest will come.
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.