Radio Free Bard

Writing Roads: Interview with Julie Roads

Posted in Interviews by radiofreebard on December 6, 2008

Julie Roads has one of the most readable and endearing writing voices of  today’s generation of bloggers. Her smooth and captivating voice draws the reader closer and gives the impression of warmth and maternal grace. Insight into her writing career bears fresh fruit for aspiring writers.

Would you call yourself a writer? If not, what would you call yourself and why?
Yes, I call myself a writer. It’s been my passion, practice, talent, outlet for as long as I can remember…
Why did you start writing in the first place?
Because I loved to read…I wanted to create things for people to read. I was enthralled by filling pages with words. I remember specifically emulating Harriet the Spy (books, not movie) when I was 7 – carrying around a notebook and documenting everything that I saw.
How did you develop your writing ‘voice’? Was it deliberate or did it evolve?
It evolved…I really found it when I found someone to write to. Up until that point, it often felt forced. Now, I have someone that I write to (I imagine talking to them when I write and my relationship with them is uncomplicated, no judgement, no negativity) and the result is authenticity and positivity. But, I think my voice will keep evolving – that’s what this is all about, no?
What’s one example of how you deal with writer’s block?
I immediately go on to a new project. If I ever try to force something, I get lost in a twisted, nasty maze of defeat and then I’m no good whatsoever. So I leave that project and do something where I know I can succeed finish, complete the task – that usually shifts my energy so that I can go back to the original project…sometimes, you just have to let it go until you’re ready.
What’s the difference between someone that can be a professional writer and someone that can’t or shouldn’t?
TOUGH question!!! How do I say this delicately. Find out if you can write – let some kind, but objective, people read some of your work and let them tell you.

The difference? A professional writer can make dog crap interesting. They have a rhythm, they understand sentence structures, they aren’t trying too hard. There is a beginning, a middle, an end to their work. You forget you’re reading when you read their writing…

Julie is:
www.writingroads.com   www.writingroads.com/blog   freelance writer; marketing writer; problogger; blogging, social media, freelance writing consultant; twitter address: http://twitter.com/writingroads

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Curing writer’s block

Posted in Writing by radiofreebard on November 12, 2008

There is a line that a writer crosses when they decide that they want to be a writer, not a hobbyist. The hobbyist can leave their writing for months on end and content themselves with the drudgery of their lives, never picking up a pen and never stressing at the vacuum of inspiration. When someone crosses that line into budding author, they are doomed to feel the invisible ropes of writer’s block tug them backwards from the page or the keys. They must face the hunger of the empty page without the food of inspiration.

This post is born out of writer’s block.

There are many types of writer’s block. In this post I aim to guilt you out of having them.

Symptoms: Unable to translate plan into paragraph. Can’t think of how to start the first page. Constantly crushing the page or deleting what you’ve written.

Cause: Your standards are too high and you’re trying to be Harper Lee on your first draft. Your perfectionism is killing your creativity.

Solution: Be willing to write crap. As Hemingway put it, “The first draft of everything is shit.” If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer, so write. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write it and don’t edit it until you’ve written more than you’re willing to discard. As a writer you have to have faith in what you can do. The day I knew I could become a writer was the day I realised I was supposed to edit my first draft, not publish it.

Symptoms: Constantly distracted, always finding something to do other than writing. Real life keeps getting in the way.

Cause: You’ve forgotten how easy it is to write. You’re either building it up in your mind as something horribly difficult or tedious or even worse, you just don’t care enough to hunger for it. This is made worse by poor organisational skills or thinking that being a writer is any less demanding than any other job.

Solution: Don’t tackle a big project as the first thing you do when you sit down. If you’re writing a novel, write a diary entry or a blog post first. If you don’t feel inspired by your first scheduled task, do the second. Whatever you do, write. If you’re at the point where you aren’t hungering to put down words and you haven’t written anything that day, start thinking about a nine to five job, it’ll either scare you back to your work or be preparation for when you realise you won’t cut it as a writer.

Symptoms: Don’t know what happens next in the story. Unable to ‘feel’ the story or some part of it such as characters. There is no logical next step that you can feel immediately.

Causes: Lack of emotional involvement in your work. Your mind is overloaded.

Solution: Step away from the page or keyboard, lock yourself in a room and just imagine the setting. Don’t think logically or structurally about the work, just get into a deeply mental space and let the parts of your subconscious mind that have been dwelling on this very question speak. Your subconscious knows where to go next, it knows what it wants to write. All story tellers, all writers, all artists have a part of their subconscious that will latch onto an idea and run with it whether you realise it or not. There’s a part of your subconscious for every idea you’ve ever had. Give it a chance to speak. You won’t hear it if your thinking, you’ll drown it out. Listen to some Eckhart Tolle.

Symptoms: Can’t maintain focus on a single project until completion. Started too many projects and can’t devote enough time to them. Always starting never finishing. This is a valid and crippling form of writer’s block.

Cause: Your muse is strong but you lack understanding of your muse and you lack discipline.

Solution: Get your life sorted out. Understand yourself or you’ll never understand what you are trying to say. Understanding what you are trying to say is just as important as understanding what you want to talk about. You may think you want to talk about pirates, space ships and goblins but what you really want to express is discontent at the treatment of women in the workplace. You may think you want to write a marketing blog but what you really want to express is your wonder at the human ability to socialise.

Symptoms: You can’t think of a single thing to write about. No idea about what kind of project, format, style, universe or issue you wish to tackle. You have nothing that needs to be expressed.

Cause: You’ve shut yourself down due to stress.

Solution: You were once a child with a boundless imagination, either a boy with a cowboy hat and a plastic six-shooter or a girl with a box full of mummy’s old clothes with which you would play dress-up. There is no reason for a person to be completely devoid of wonder unless they’ve shut themselves down from stress or fear or pain or any number of grown-up reasons. Chances are you’d be better able to write something pained and dark during these kinds of moods, even if you aren’t aware of the effect stress is having on you.

Go scream at the top of your lungs in an empty field in the middle of nowhere.