How new is new?

From my news reporting experience, what is "new" may only last a matter of hours before replaced by new "news".  That means a constant flow of writing is required. The best part of that pressure is that I did not know the meaning of "writer's block". In the news business, writer's block is also known as "fired".  I had no idea how useful that training would be for writing in the future.

I say this to give perspective for writer's who want to produce what is fresh and new. As rapidly as content goes up on line, new is a highly perishable commodity in a wired world. Trends come and go, few last. So how can you be "news worthy"? Basically, don't try. 

Instead of going for "new", aim for relevant. Yes, there is a difference. Being relevant within a group, cohort or genre is current. Granted it will not last. Few of us will write a "War & Peace" or "Gone With the Wind" yet we can make a valuable written contribution. 

Be sure you have something to say that is worth reading to an interested audience. That means more than your family and friends will want to read it and read more from you. This all goes back to a tried and true writing concept; finding your voice. That voice distinguishes you from dozens of others who grind out content. 

The next time you promote or defend your writing product, let go the notion that your work is totally new or different from anything else printed. Show the relevance to an interested, identifiable group and there is the seed for an audience. Like birds scattering seeds that the farmer placed in one field to another field, the fans of your voice just might scatter your work to another group. 

When NOT to write

Even the most prolific brains need a break. Irritating as interruptions in creative flow may be, they can be a blessing if properly used. That's where I have been recently; on a brain cell break for fiction writing. Yes, even experienced writers need breaks.

Creativity is like a battery that cannot be "ever- ready".  Before you pour out insightful concepts and sparkling words, you need to fill your creative battery with new input. Forced writing is rarely good writing. I think that this lack of refilling is the real reason for writer's block.

 Get out of the office and put down the computer! Look around you. Walk in a crowd. Listen at the mall, airport or coffee shop. What are people saying? What interests them? What fascinating words or phrases do you hear? And the added benefit is, of course, a latte break.

Until you are brimming with thoughts so that the words are pressing to get from your brain to your typing fingers, put aside creative writing. For fiction writers, you will know its time to get back to work when the characters in your head are getting pushy to have their story told.

Share Your Writing with Affinity Groups

"If you've got it, flaunt it" is the writer's imperative for sharing talent and building your audience. Look first at your affinity groups as prime places to give "the write twist" to a column or blog.  Here are a few recent examples:

From my professional counseling and university teaching background, I am connected with AACC, a major counseling organization that serves 50,000 members. Now that's a solid reader base. Playing off the Olympics and increasing need for activity among older adults, read about my take on Breaking the Age Ceiling for Activity and Fitness

As a member of The Sophisticates, Tampa Bay social and networking group, I have a regular series titled, "Yes You Can".  Incorporating a news item that caught my attention from National Public Radio, I prepared the latest; Yes You Can: Revive the Art of Conversation.

Now it's your turn to identify affinity groups that relate to your interests from work,  education, hobbies, sports, networking, technology, cooking or whatever. Then start writing for online publications with that audience.

Faster, Higher, Stronger - Seriously?

Brace yourself for the Olympics! Its the ultimate example of "the thrill of victory; the agony of defeat". Fledgling ABC producer Roone Arledge penned those now immortal words to open the Wide World of Sports that launched in the early 1960s. Can you believe that his phrase is still quoted fifty years later? That's the kind of writing impact that any author dreams to have.

Arledge's tag line proves that much can be said with a few well chosen words. Whether you are writing for a reader or writing for a speech, where is the memorable line? Simply stated, what's the sound bite that TV news would leap on from your words? Think about it. 

In Olympic terms, is your written product faster, higher and stronger than the previous work? Writing fast is essential in the news business. From my experience in broadcast news, writer's block was synonymous with fired, so it wasn't an option. At times a writer needs to fill the page and meet that deadline. 
Is your working reaching higher levels or skimming at the same easy, less challenging pace?  Are your words strong enough to make the point and dazzling enough to paint a mental picture? That's the writer's version of  the Olympic motto: faster, higher, stronger. Go for the gold by delivering world class writing.