W – Writer’s Block

WAh, Writer’s Block. That scourge of writers the world over. I suppose. Is it though? What are some of the elements of Writer’s Block?

For me, the very first and major hurdle of Writer’s Block is how to start. I, like many writers I imagine, have a number of stories mapped out in my head, notes hidden around in margins, on smart phones, tablets, writing programs. When do you know enough? About your characters, your setting? Do you understand it all? Have you read enough to know that no one else has already written your story? And how do you hook your readers?

This is a hard wall to get past, for sure. As best I understand, at some point you just have to start. For me, that’s still a work in progress.

Once you’re going, maybe you started too soon! Oh no, how do you resolve this part? Describe this scene? How do you convey to your readers exactly what you feel when you think about it? Or maybe you know time needs to pass, but don’t know what might happen between where you’re coming from and where you’re going. Maybe you need to give another character some time in the sun, but aren’t sure what to have happen.

Or maybe Writer’s Block is just your excuse – your excuse for having a life, for letting time get away from you, for not being as diligent in writing as you feel like you ought to be. Because while the largest category is likely the books never written, there is still very likely a very large selection of books started but unfinished. It’s an easy trap to fall into. It’s life.

And then there’s towards the end, you have a written story! But you’re editing. Thinking it through, revising. Have you developed your voice enough? Have you used good language to convey your points and story? And is it something unique, something that hasn’t been written before? Is it something new under the sun?

At some point you have to let it go, have to decide it’s good enough. Not everyone can be J.K. Rowling or George Lucas and edit their works after they’re already published. But before you reach that point, you can likely hit the hardest road blocks, the most doubt: is it good enough? Will anyone, in their right mind – or at least the mind they bring to the table on the day they’re making the decision – publish it? Would you even self-publish it yourself? As you might be your hardest critic, after all.

I can see a lot of things we might mean by Writer’s Block. Once I get going, in a single session, I tend not to stop when writing – I tend to flow. For me, the trouble is getting started, is having the time, is taking the time. How about you? Any Writer’s Block stories or tips to share? Venture forth to the comments below! Can’t think of what to comment about? Writer’s Block strikes again!

N – Newspapers

NI think it’s safe to say it’s been a tough few decades for newspapers. I talked about how Journalism jobs seem to be becoming more specialized and in some ways this makes sense, as the news in general gets smaller and tighter as an industry. But what has led to the steady decline in newspaper business? The obvious answer is our old friend the Internet. But I see a few specific elements that are causing more trouble for newspapers because of the Internet than other industries are seeing – say, books versus e-books.

The obvious one is that the Internet provided a new means of accessing the news, forcing them to react and start to try and provide the news in multiple channels. And, to provide it at an Internet-appropriate speed: so, basically instantly. Not the easiest thing, and for getting your facts straight, for doing good editing, a deadline and publication schedule and time is kind of a useful thing. That changes significantly with the Internet.

And then there’s the fact that search engines arose – increasingly giving people the feeling that they can find things on their own, and don’t need anyone else to do that sort of work for them. All of a sudden, is there as much value in the person doing that work, digging up the stories, reporting on them? When all of a sudden, everyone feels like they can do this.

And then you get people creating the content, too! Bloggers and the like, doing the work for free, on their own time. Saying whatever they want, with no editorial standard. Eroding our expectation of there BEING an editorial standard.

But no, the number one problem facing newspapers, in my opinion, is the fact that people expect things online to be free. Oh, and we don’t really like ads. Why buy a newspaper when the same paper gives the news online for free? So then some of them add pay-walls, and we’re up in arms. Paying for something that costs money to create, and which we used to pay for anyway… I will also say that regularly, the most ad-filled, cluttered websites I have seen are news sites. This has gotten better with time, or else I stopped going to their sites: I’m not sure which it is.

I’ve given a few of my thoughts, and I think these things are hitting newspapers harder than a lot of other types of writing. There’s free fiction online, after all, but I still see the value in paying for a good book. However, the news? If I can’t get it one place for free, I’ll just look elsewhere until I can get it for free. Right? That’s what they’re up against. At least in my opinion – what do you think is their greatest challenge?

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