By Barbara Perone
To some, there is nothing more intimidating than knowing they have to write something, whether it be for work, or pleasure, only to end up staring at a blank screen, too afraid to put down a single, solitary word.
Let me tell you a little secret … come a little closer so I can whisper it into your ear.
Now, don’t tell anybody this, but, at one time or another, this happens to everyone, even professional Writers. Some call it Writer’s block; others argue that there is no such thing as Writer’s block; they say it’s just plain old fear. Well, the only way to get over that fear is to just begin. Write something, anything, just start, that’s all.
Keep writing for as long as you can. Don’t worry about the formatting, grammar, spelling, syntax, or dangling modifiers; just write as much as you can for as long as you can. Then, press the Save button and go do something else for a few hours.
When you come back to your computer you’ll have a fresh perspective on what you’ve just written. Now you can fix the formatting, grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc. Just keep doing that all throughout the day, write a little, walk away from it, then, come back to it later and edit what you’ve written. Easy peasy.
Worry about perfect grammar, sentence structure, and spelling doesn’t seem to faze other would-be Writers; they have a different fear – rejection. They think nobody will like what they have written, that their work won’t be interesting enough for someone to read. What they seem to forget is that everybody gets rejected at some point or another in life. So, the thing to do is to just keep trying. In all the years I’ve lived, I’ve never yet met a perfect person and I don’t see one even when I look into the mirror.
Still, others don’t fear rejection; they seem to have the notion that what they have written has to sound like it was penned by a world renowned novelist. Here’s a news flash for you – many times in his career famed author Ernest Hemingway had doubts about his own writing – and he was freakin’ Ernest Hemingway!
Don’t worry about feeling that your work is not interesting, or good enough to read, or that nobody will understand what you’ve written. If you write your own blog, eventually, if you write enough, you will learn how to fix the errors and make your words flow better. If you are working with an Editor she can help fix what you’ve written. At first, it may sting a little, but, trust me, it’s the only real way to learn.
And let’s face it, some people just flat out hate to write, period!
You can’t really blame them, though. If you hated doing something, like math, which I personally abhor, you can understand how they feel. But, remember, at some point in your professional career you are going to have to write something sometime that someone else is going to have to read. So, you might as well start practicing now.
If you feel you need a little refresher course on the rules of grammar, punctuation, and usage, pick up a copy of The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2013; it’s the definitive resource for Journalists, Writers, and Editors. (We use The AP Stylebook as our reference guide when editing the PSGCNJ Multi-Author Blog [MAB], also known as our Newsletter.)
Consider this: isn’t it better to get a little practice in before you start working (like writing an article for the PSGCNJ newsletter, hint, hint) than to wait until you get to your new job and be scared stiff as a varnished eel when you have to write something?
Many people think they‘re too old to learn how to write effectively, so, they think, why bother to learn now? Tommyrot!
If you’re over 30 you’ve already lived a pretty full life. That means you must have had certain unique experiences that you should be able to share with others. So, just try it. If you practice writing you will get better and better each time, I promise!
Remember the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural address, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Truth be told, Roosevelt didn’t actually write that part of the inaugural – it was contributed by the president’s friend and confidante, former newspaper man, Louis McHenry Howe – a regular guy, a Writer, who had something to say and wasn’t afraid to put it down on paper.
By Barbara Perone