When Your Writing Flatlines.

Out of body experienceImage via Wikipedia.

A DRAMATIZATION.

Alice Smith sits in front of her computer, about to write. Suddenly, her computer freezes. She can’t think. A pain shoots through her brain — a writing blockage immobilizes her.

The white screen of death gives her the evil eye. Her brain shuts down, as the room spins.

She passes out onto the floor, triggering a right-brain auto responder that alerts the library.

An Emergency Writing Technician (EWT) unit is dispatched to her home and takes her to the library.

Alice’s brainwaves flatline…

Rhymes with flatline: Align, alkyne, blue line, blush wine, bovine, bustline, byline, canine, Einstein . . 

An EWT worker repeatedly zaps her brain.

EWT WORKER
Damn it! I’m losing her.

Alice slips into darkness. Weightless, her soul rises from her body into a brightening void.

At the end of the void in the biography section of the library, she meets Jack Smith, her great, great, great grandfather, who wrote obituaries for the local newspaper.

JACK SMITH
It’s time to go back and finish your novel.

ALICE SMITH
But it is so peaceful here. I can finish it here.

JACK SMITH
It’s supposed to be peaceful. It’s a library. But grouchy old men and women meet here every day for their book club and speak loudly because they are hard of hearing.

ALICE SMITH
I could wear headphones.

JACK SMITH
It wouldn’t be the same thing. You’d only be writing in theory, not in practice. You must go back.

ALICE SMITH
But I hate my protagonist.

JACK SMITH
You’ll figure it out.

ALICE SMITH
But it’s hard work.

JACK SMITH
Bushisms won’t work here. Now be gone!

He turns on the Dyson Soul Sucker 300.

ALICE SMITH
But I voted for John Kerry-ry, ry, ry…

A deafening sound overwhelms her. Her soul is yanked from the bright light in the biography section to the dark void in her brain. Her body jerks. With a gasp, she opens her eyes.

EWT WORKER

You saved her!

ALICE SMITH

But can you save my novel?

Moral of this story: You can revive your writing if it flatlines.

  • If you’re stuck, take a break and work on something else.
  • If you’re stuck up to your neck in quicksand, call for help – preferably someone with a strong rope and a trusted set of eyes with twenty-plus vision – and have him/her take a look-see.
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How to Prevent Traumatic-Post Stress Disorder.

 

Hands collaborating in co-writing or co-editin...

Channel your energy to your writing and not to outside distractions.

Fads pass through the blogosphere faster than a toe-tapping politician can talk his way out of a bathroom stall while an unamused cop rattles a pair of handcuffs.

But fads are just distractions, as is stressing over frivolous stuff, like your subscriber count, which always changes, while your reasons for writing remain the same – passion and connecting with readers. The two are inextricably bound. You can’t make a connection with a reader if your heart isn’t in your writing.

And you only have seconds to make that connection. People have short attention spans. If a reader doesn’t fall in love with your content at first sight, he/she will leave your site.
  • How do you keep a reader from leaving your site?
    • By writing compelling posts.
  • What is a compelling post?
    • A well-written post that triggers an emotional response in a reader, which establishes a connection.
The word “connection” is the operative here and the key to maintaining a bustling readership but is like a slippery bar of soap that can easily evade your grasp.

That’s why you must be passionate about what you write while keeping the content in your comfort zone. If you’re squeamish about what you write, it will be apparent to your readers. In other words, don’t write about something if your heart’s not in it because you’re worried about repercussions from friends or loved ones.

Don’t write about stuff that can come back and bite you in the ass, like your husband yelling at you because you bought expensive whipped cream cheese (on sale) instead of the more affordable (less air pockets), slab of cream cheese – a huge difference according to dairy aficionados specializing in cream cheese cuisine.

Uh, omit that last passage (or not). In all fairness to my husband of twenty-five years, sometimes while in the throes of the after-work crankies, we spew insensitive nonsensical crap before we’re able to satisfy our irascible appetites with a cream cheese smeared saltine snack. It’s all good. He apologized. 
But I digressed. Back to the point on connecting with your readers. 
I just revealed a marital melee, thus providing a peak into my personal life, or minutiae me, not blogger me, or avatar me. 
Because the Internet is an intangible void, readers have an insatiable desire for intimacy and need to bond with the blog writer. The content must intrigue, surprise, engage, hold the reader’s attention long enough to form a connection with the brains behind the blog responsible for entertainment.
For colorless writing, readers visit websites with processed posts that feature news or “how to” and informational articles, or sites that provide solutions to problems. No emotional investment there. Just a quick information fix.
People are innate seekers of information even of the absurd. . .
Newman: I hear you’ve got some lip reader working for you. You gotta let me use her for one day. Just one day. 
Jerry: Can’t do it Newman.
Newman: But Jerry, we’ve got this new supervisor down at the post office. He’s working behind this glass. I know they’re talking about me. They’re going to transfer me, I know it. Two hours, give me two hours.
Jerry: Not going to happen.
Newman: (Sinister) All right, all right. All right you go ahead. You go ahead and keep it secret. But you remember this. When you control the mail, you control… information.
Larry David is truly the master of his domain. Because of great writing and quirky memorable characters, we still quote Seinfeld episodes twelve years after the show went off the air.
We relate to Seinfeld characters because they are flawed human beings like us.
Since the Internet is devoid of humanity (and only reflects images of human souls), it is even more critical for a blogger to establish a relationship with his/her readers.
But not every blogger wants to reveal sensitive personal situations that can leave teeth marks on the ass. 
So, what if you don’t want to write about your personal life? How can you still connect with your readers? 
By injecting your personality into your writing or as it is called among literary types, voice. 
What is voice? 
Write101.com
In writing, voice is the way your writing ‘sounds’ on the page. It has to do with the way you write, the tone you take–friendly, formal, chatty, distant–the words you choose–everyday words or high-brow language–the pattern of your sentences, and the way these things fit in–or not–with the personality of the narrator character and the style of your story.
There you have it, the ingredients for creating your voice, the vehicle for your passion, and reader magnet.
If you’re still confused about voice, visit one of your favorite sites. Study the blogger’s style and tone inherent in each of the posts, and then analyze what attracted you to the site.
Experiment with different writing styles to see what best suits your personality and then practice, practice, practice.

If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it.
Ignacy (Jan) Paderewski
 

Writing isn’t rocket science but it entails dedication and passion. To write compelling posts, you must enjoy the writing process, or otherwise it is torture. How can your audience possibly enjoy reading your posts if it pains you to write them? 

When writing becomes torture, it’s time to take a bloggy break and refuel the creative brain cells. No self-flogging allowed. Just some chill time on the observation platform, a perfect spot to seek information for inspiration even if it’s absurd.

Embrace your voice, write your passion, and have fun doing it!
 
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Where Have All the Windows Gone?

The office where I work boasts lovely views of the parking lot from four windows, soon to be zero.

Image by Ateo Fiel via Flickr

We are moving to new digs, literally, in the basement of the building. I literally hate the word literally.

 

700 Beacon Street's Color photo processing dar...Image via Wikipedia

There will be zero windows in the basement. Count them! Zero, since we will be working underground, like rats or moles, although we will be in a far safer place in case of a terrorist attack from visiting Midwest tornadoes or Biblical locusts.

Today we discussed the end-of-days scenario in our cubicles and feared the worst until one brave soul dodged the Spam fields of cyberspace to discover WindowSane.com – the faux window solution for any subterranean hideaway.

Happy days! Our office will once again have four, uh, er, faux windows.
 

In addition to a view of Lake Tahoe, one of the oceans (don’t know which one), and autumn, the season of death, WindowSane offers nine European vistas, which are really views but are called vistas instead, and a porthole frame view of an ocean harbor (? harbor), a sunset, and the planet Saturn – yes, you’ll think you’re in outer space.

WindowSane is insane and I love it! Btw, I’m not pimping for them. I just think the idea is hilarious. I’m an easy laugh.

Here’s the QVC video I snagged from YouTube. It gets weird and is a bit long but the campiness kept me wondering how much wackier can this get. I turned it off about half way through.

What’s your view of the faux window views?
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Mentamucil-The Natural Brain Laxative.

When You’re Blocked.

The number one preferred brain laxative of non-institutionalized shrinks, Mentamucil contains natural brain fiber that adds bulk to gray matter where thoughts matter most.  More brain fiber less WTF moments.

Taken daily, Mentamucil  improves colon and comma health by helping you move your vowels regularly. No more discomfort from introspective constipation or awkward moments from embarrassing brain farts. With Mentamucil, you’ll be able to clear your head without clearing a room.

Just one serving of Mentamucil in the morning eliminates frivolous thought retention throughout the day, while relieving painful word bloat.

Mentamucil also reduces the occurrence of hem and haw-rhoids, prevents diarrhea of the mouth, and alleviates moodiness associated with Irritable Brain Syndrome (IBS), a leading cause of writer’s block.

So, get Mentamucil today and say goodbye to stifled thoughts. With a daily dose of Mentamucil, thinking will never be a strain.

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      Are you Scribeaphobic – Afraid to Write?

      Maria Yakunchikova "Fear" 1893-95Image via Wikipedia

      Some days I would rather do anything than write, which inevitably gives way to a game of self-deception.

      The game begins with a glance out the window under the guise of seeking inspiration. I hone in on the dandelions instead.

      “Must eliminate,” I mutter like a section eight patient and head outside to hunt down militant weeds.

      After finishing my murderous rampage and disposing the dandelion remains in a body bag, I stopped to catch my breath by a flowering rhododendron plant. Powerfully pungent, a whiff of the fragrant fumes sent me into a hallucinogenic trance, killing brains cells I had put aside for writing.

      “Nice try.” The now talking rhododendron said. “Get back in the house and write. You’ll grow more brain cells on the way.”

      Not wanting to anger the rhododendron, I dropped the body bag and staggered back inside, collapsing by the foot of the stairs covered with dandelion DNA.

      In penance for picking dandelions instead of words, I climbed the stairs on hands and knees and then embedded my butt into the chair in front of the computer. I peered into a cold, white screen that reminded me of a barren frozen wasteland. The thought chilled me, freezing my fingers and bones. Shaking uncontrollably, I retreated to the bedroom for a sweater and then returned to the blinding white screen that now beat down upon me like a hot Sahara sun.

      I removed the sweater and typed three words, “Fear of Writing” then stopped. What if I can’t write anything of merit? I grabbed the mouse and moved the cursor to the Internet icon, deluding myself that I would find inspiration in cyberspace — Another self-deception.

      I released the mouse and stared at the white screen that appeared to be staring back at me in a judgmental sort of way. My pulse raced and my mouth turned dry. I didn’t have to do a Google search to know that I was afraid to write.

      What would a shrink say?

      “Ms. Salkin, I’m afraid I have bad news. The symptoms you describe: sweaty palms, easily distracted, palpitations, dizziness can only mean one thing – Panic Scribe Syndrome.”

      “Is it serious?” I asked.

      “Only if you obsess on it like I do.”

      “How can I cure myself of Panic Scribe Syndrome?”

      “By writing.”

      “Does the phrase ‘vicious cycle’ mean anything to you?” I screamed.

      “I’m afraid that’s all the time we have.”

      So, maybe a shrink wasn’t the answer. Maybe I needed to increase my dosage of Vitamin B, try Yoga, or Acupuncture. Maybe a morning jog down a slippery slope, or a spin around the neighborhood on a stationary bike would cure me of my fear of writing unless it killed me first.

      Already mired in guilt from not writing anything good or bad, I succumbed to the “poor me” part of my brain and asked, Why do I write? Why do I attempt to write? I pondered the question for a minute or two before I concluded, because it makes me feel good.

      Another of life’s ironies. How can something that makes you feel so good also make you feel so bad? I couldn’t answer the question. “Maybe I should Google it.”

      “There you go again,” said the shrink echoing Ronald Regan’s words.

      “You’re right,” I said. “I mean. I’m right.”

      I dimmed the bright computer screen and positioned the cursor beneath the title, “Fear of Writing.” It only takes a second to become distracted. I typed, following the advice of the phantom shrink I neglected to pay.

      “The only cure for Panic Scribe Syndrome is to write.”

      Gee. I wish I had thought of that.

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      Jobless Rate Rises by One.

      Image by Cornell University Library via Flickr

      On Friday, I opened my email at work and read this:

      Your position with —  is being terminated due to restructuring. Let’s meet at 4:45 to discuss further.

      The person who sent the email sat behind me, only two-feet away.

      Instead of turning around and facing the person who sent the email and saying “WTF?” I clicked on “compose mail” and responded with this.

      I’d rather meet this morning.

       She fired off this 22-caliber email, which grazed my arm.

      Let’s meet at 11:00 a.m.

      And so I spent the last two hours of my jobful morning clearing my desk and bidding co-workers adieu. “Adieu to you and you,” I said, who were my two friends.

      Now that I am free to explore the endless employment possibilities, I can’t wait to roll up the sleeves on my sweat top and jump back into the job market waters, which has reached the freezing point. I hope I don’t suffer a concussion and bruise my id, or ergo the ego will get mighty pissed.

      Craig, honey, I’m back and ready to scroll through your lists.

      Cheek to cheek kiss.

      Now chew on this earlier post after ingesting my words:

      Caught in the Unemployment Voice Mail Undertow

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