“It is difficult to keep the public interested… the supply of new ideas is not endless,” complains the narrator of Donald Barthelme’s “The Flight of Pigeons from the Palace.”
For every writer, whether they pen literary fiction or produce streams of online content, the fight to stay interesting is an ongoing one.
Interesting to the reader, interesting to ourselves as writers, and interested in the process of putting words on a page. It is all too easy for overfamiliarity to seep in, causing mind-numbing boredom first in the writer, and in turn, the reader.
Am I a writer?
How do I come up with ideas?
How do I find an authentic voice?
What if I’m no good?
How can I keep my content interesting, day after day?
How do I make my writing more engaging?
Ever wondered any of these things? Well, I’m not here to sell you a webinar, or bribe you to join my mailing list with an ebook. I’m here to propose a very old-fashioned solution that can help with all of the above: writing a journal.
There’s a huge amount of technical help and guidance out there for us writers.
From grammar geek websites to detailed historical information sources, it’s never been easier to access the technical resources necessary to write. Need to pen an article on electric cars? A short story with a scene in Prague? A perfectly punctuated piece of dialogue?
No sweat, the Information Age has you covered.
However, there are some things the internet can’t help us with. (I know, I said it.) Things like the vulnerability to expose your weaknesses. The resilience to cope with hostile or indifferent responses to your work. The self-knowledge to speak to something deep and true in other people. The courage to say something you feel without someone else having said it first.
These are the things I’m calling a writer’s emotional toolkit. As a writer, you probably use many of these techniques without realizing it.
My sister fell off her swing a couple of days ago.
To be more precise, the swing broke and deposited her on the ground. My mother had made it for her only days before, and I was confused how it was possible to make a swing so utterly useless.
“I don’t understand, either,” said our mother. “I followed the instructions so carefully.”
After asking a few more questions, I realised she had googled “how to make a swing” and downloaded the first guide that came up.
(My advice? Don’t do this if you care about your own or other people’s tailbones.)