Many times in a writer’s life, one is faced with three potential roadblocks: what to write, how to write it, and should it even be written? Writing can be one of the most rewarding endeavors to undertake, but it’s equally one of the most frustrating. A writer often oscillates between the extremes of having a blank page with no inspiration and all the inspiration and motivation but the insecurity of potential backlash.
For all of the wonderful rhetoric around the freedom of speech, it’s more than likely your words will be taken out of context by someone, leading to perhaps completely unfair retribution. What made me stop writing for some time were those lashing out in rage-filled diatribes against what was only meant as purely intellectual commentary. Because of these past negative experiences, I find my wires have been crossed. My creativity often shorts out before I can produce something fresh and worthwhile.
It’s quite common as a creative individual to grow weary and frustrated with the general public simply misinterpreting your words. But, even more so, it becomes increasingly difficult with today’s cancel culture to not start an online war. So, as a writer, how do you write what you feel needs to be said without fear of backlash?
Facing these writing roadblocks, it took me some time to understand how best to overcome them, and inevitably write better and more clearly than before. It all began with returning to basics: sitting down and brainstorming everything I know or am interested in writing about.
Once I had these ideas spread out before me, I asked myself two questions: What do I want my readers to take away from reading my writing? What question or problem do I want my readers to think about after they finish reading? Answering these questions can help shape your writing while giving you a more focused outline of what needs to be written. But, what I also learned from this back to basics exercise is that if you have trouble answering those questions, then you probably shouldn’t write anything right then.
Sure, my initial list didn’t produce any masterpieces. But, eventually, bits and pieces served as inspiration when writing one-off pieces. I decided that my writing approach needed to be more generally positive and uplifting, whereas in my youth I was often strictly critical. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be critical; you just have to couch your criticism in colorful metaphors and engaging, thought-provoking rhetoric.
The other thing I’ve learned is the reason I no longer write freelance assignments for a living. Sometimes you get an idea that’s just so good you think it should be written; but, once you get to writing it, before long your original enthusiasm has disappeared and your heart is no longer in it. As a writer, you can’t force yourself to write something that doesn’t have your passion or talent behind it. If your enthusiasm isn’t there, it’s best to walk away and look for other opportunities in life. Don’t let deadlines and unfulfilling assignments jeopardize your career as a writer and lose all credibility with those who read what you produce.
When it comes to writing, it’s important to always start with a topic that’s worth your time. It’s great if your chosen topic has never been covered before, but that’s often rare. More likely, you’re stepping into a field where hundreds of writers are doing exactly what you plan on doing. At that point, it may be wiser to select a different topic. Ask yourself these questions: Is my idea unique? Does my chosen audience need more content from me? Do I have any connections in place who would help support me with this piece?
Most importantly, you have to be passionate about the topics you’re writing about. Yes, this will mean people will disagree with you, sometimes quite strongly. But, disagreement is natural, and it means you’re making your point. You can’t write something out of fear that people won’t agree; after all, good ideas are almost always controversial.
Writing is hard and writing well is harder. Sometimes, people are simply mad that you got to writing a topic before they did or better than they did (yes, that really happens). The world is full of trolls who just want to ruin people’s days. Don’t let these black holes steal your writing power like they did to me for too many years. Write what you know well, what you love most, and write it as best as you can, and don’t fear the reaper.