on the need to Not Be Boring…

---------------------------------------- (1)

God, I hope not.

if you’re like me, and are trying to do all the Stuff You’re Supposed to Do, like write a blog post every week to remind people that you exist (hi people!  I exist!), you’ve probably asked yourself that question.

Maybe more than once.

Nobody wants to be boring. Nobody wants to put something out there in the universe that anyone and everyone can read that isn’t at least a little interesting. Nobody wants people to see a post from them and immediately think, “oh, God, not HER again…”

At least, I don’t.

Unfortunately, sometimes the need to not be boring is enough to completely derail me. According to my husband, who just wrote and self-published a novel in under three months because he doesn’t worry about stuff like that, that’s because I’m afraid to let myself fail. I won’t allow myself to put something on a page that I don’t think is profound or hilarious or insert-your-favorite-superlative-here.

And he’s basically right. (We have been married for almost 25 years, so he’s usually right.)

But seriously – how crazy is that? I’m so afraid to fail that I won’t take the chance of writing something less-then-spectacular EVEN IF I’M THE ONLY PERSON WHO’S EVER GONNA SEE IT!!!! It’s not like whatever I type is automatically entered into some sort of permanent record where it will be held against me for all eternity…

But even as I realize how totally ridiculous that is, I’m still doing it now, while I’m writing this. I keep going back and checking over the words I just wrote, and changing them as I go. I just changed the previous sentence – just this second! And every couple of minutes, I really, seriously fight off the urge to check Facebook again. Or maybe my email. Or…hey, am I hungry?

So yeah. I’m a little crazy.

But then again, if I do this, I’m probably not the only one.

Now, I know this is the part of the blog post where I’m supposed to offer a magical solution that will make the problem go away. But honestly, I don’t have one. At least not a magical one.

What I’m doing right now, in real time, is what I usually end up doing when I reach this point. And that is, is I stop thinking.

I make a commitment to draw the line. To move forward no matter what. To write what I’m gonna write till it’s done, then read it to make sure it makes sense and that there aren’t any glaring mistakes or typos, and that’s it.

I take a deep breath, and I hit “publish.”

And I forget about it.

Is that a healthy response to writer’s block? I’m honestly not sure. But you are reading this now, right?

I just hope it wasn’t boring.

If you want some help making your writing “not boring” (how’s that for a segue?), or if there’s some other reason your copy is driving you crazy, and you’d like some help from an actual, genuine pro copywriter, click the button below to join me on my (virtual) couch for a 1:1 hour of Copy Therapy.

Yes, i made a button! And it works! Go me!!!!!!!button

to blog…or not to blog?

----------------------------------------

I don’t believe those people who say you can write a blog post every week and never feel like what you’re writing has no meaning or purpose. I mean honestly, if I never contribute another 500-word musing to the world, will it actually make a difference? Does my sitting here making crap up as I go along really help anyone with anything?

Seriously?

Blogging is, by nature, kind of a self-centered thing to do. When we blog, it’s like we’re automatically assuming – or at least momentarily convincing ourselves — that what we have to say is of value, at least to someone. Plus, we’re also assuming we possess the qualifications necessary to offer “expert” advice on whatever it is we’re blogging about.

I know this from personal experience. I’ve been trying to blog consistently, every week, for a few months now. And every once in a while, I sit at my computer and wonder why the &*%$ I bother.

After all, if a blog is posted on the internet, and no one reads it, does it actually exist?

Ummm…yeah. (Existentialism, it turns out, does not apply to blogging.)

The reason I keep doing it is the reason we all keep doing it. Because we’re supposed to. Because, like exercise and vitamins, it’s supposed to be good for us. Or for our businesses, anyway. If you don’t have a business and you blog every week, you’re a whole ‘nother kind of animal entirely.

For the rest of us, who maybe aren’t bursting with brilliant things to say 24/7, there are some work-arounds that I know work for me. The biggest is to remember to stay true to myself, and maybe resist the temptation to try to come up with something brilliant and profound every week.

Like this week, I felt like I had something of value to say, so I’m here, at this moment, saying it (yes, I’m writing about writing as if it’s talking, but that’s another topic for another post…). Last week, on the other hand, I didn’t feel like I had any “advice” in me, and for some reason, I had a poem in there instead. So I wrote it. And that poem got more responses than most of the “important” blog posts I’ve written.

Go figure.

I guess that’s the main thing I forget about blogging. You never know. Maybe no one will read your blog post (although it will, in fact, still exist). But then again, maybe you’ll reach that one person who just happens to need to hear exactly what you’re saying. Or writing. Or maybe you’ll just make someone smile with a goofy poem.

Of course, since it’s my business, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that if you’re struggling to figure out what to blog about, or how to write in a way that represents you the way you want to be seen (as opposed to maybe uninspired or burnt out), I do this thing I call Copy Therapy that can help with that. You join me on my virtual “couch” (hence the term Copy Therapy) and we talk through whatever piece of writing or writing issue you might have. Then we work through it together to brainstorm and come up something amazing.

If that sounds like something you wanna get in on, click HERE – I’d love to work with you.

And if you just need some extra inspiration to get through your next post on your own, check out my free guide, The Positively True, Actual Professional Writer’s Guide to Beating Writer’s Block HERE.

Because your next blog post probably won’t change the world. But if you never write it, you’ll never know…

How I Accidentally Wrote a Novel

DARK SKY 1 (1)

Joel Canfield here.

So, it was a sunny Sunday, May 24th of this year, and my lovely wife Lisa and I were having lunch here on Roosevelt Island with a couple of writer pals, David Muhlfelder and Robert Thielke.  All four of us had ordered burgers and, as we wolfed them down, some other guy showed up at out table, a guy I didn’t know, and he immediately lambasted our diets. Which was fair.

Anyway, I found out his name was Joshua James and he lived over the river from us in Queens – Robert had invited him over to meet up with us. I also found out that Josh was a talented playwright, screenwriter – and, as it happens, novelist (he writes thrillers under a pseudonym, but check out his published plays by clicking here).  Even though a film of one of his scripts had just been released, he was the most excited about self-publishing his books. He told us excitedly that was where the future was at – and how he was racking up some great sales, as well as getting hundreds of amazing reviews. And if you guessed that his spiel set me on fire…

…well, you’d be wrong.

Lisa was the one hanging on his every word who suddenly wanted to get into the self-publishing game – I was the one in the corner rolling my eyes. I had no intention of writing a novel. A novel takes a lot of time and a lot of energy, and at this point in my life, I don’t have a lot of either to spare. Not only that, but I never got anywhere with the ones I did finish, back when I was in my twenties and thirties. The closest I got to getting published was to finally have a book agent read my stuff, love it and promise to get it in print. He died of a heart attack on a tennis court a couple of weeks later. Okay, it was a bigger tragedy for him than me, but still…

But then I fell asleep and everything changed.

Not during the lunch – that would have been rude. But after Lisa and I got home, I took a quick nap (our dog gets us up way too early) and suddenly the whole first chapter of a new book came to me while I slept, as well as the main character and the basic plot. I woke up on fire – and Lisa was looking at me as though I was nuts, which isn’t that unusual, I’ll grant you.

That week, I started writing DARK SKY and, two and a half months later, it was done. And sleep continued to be my biggest writing helper. I kept waking up in the middle of the night with the idea for the next chapter and then lay there in bed for a couple of hours working out the mechanics. But it was worth the ongoing exhaustion.

When I was done, Lisa went through the manuscript and helped me make some significant improvements, and then my talented son A.J. did the book cover design. In this house, everything’s a family affair.

The result was DARK SKY.  I’m excited about this book and I hope everyone reading this will give it a read. I’d love to write a whole series of these books with the same main character and I already have a plot for the next one. But people have to like this one first before I get crazy involved with another one.

That’s why, for now, I’m sleeping on it.

Anyway, DARK SKY is NOW on sale on Amazon in paperback and Kindle ebook editions…check it out here if you want.

a little mid-august creativity.

burned out- exhausted- just not feelin'

It’s the middle of August. The sun’s in the sky.

But alone in your office, you think you might cry.

You’re s’posed to be writing a post for your blog,

but it’s all turning into a bit of a slog.

Your premise? It’s weak. And your prose? It sounds clunky.

The whole piece is coming out just a bit funky

(and not in a good way – it’s pretty much junky).

But what can you do?  Stuff has got to get done

even when doing said stuff is not any fun.

Well, I happen to have a suggestion for you:

when the old stuff won’t work, why not try something new?

After all, no one said that you have to be boring

and lull your poor audience deep into snoring.

Tell your readers a story, share a Q and A,

write a script to be read like the lines in the play

(or a poem like the one I’m writing today).

The next time you’re blogging and feel lost and hazy,

it could be a sign that it’s time to go crazy.

Take a risk, take a chance, let your freak speak out loud —

you just might end up with something that makes you proud.

(and after all that, if you’re STILL stuck, why not download my FREE guide to beating writer’s block? or for an hour of intensive, one-on-one help to get your writing done, schedule a super-helpful Copy Therapy Session with me.)