Random Thoughts about Writers and the Self-Discipline Required to Maintain a Blog

I knew there would be weeks like this, when my idea pool has dried up, but I hereby challenge myself – and you are my witnesses! – to push through it, to come up with a blog even if it’s not the best, just so I can maintain my discipline. I’m writing this blog for no one but myself, after all, despite the fact that now people are actually READING it, and I’ve begun to gain a little bit of confidence so that I’ve actually been telling people about it, thereby putting even more pressure on myself.

But that’s a good thing! That was a key component of starting this blog – that I would force myself to write something “publishable” at least once a week. I must admit that losing the contents of my hard drive set me back a little bit, because I did have some “seeds” of blog posts that I had culled from my journals saved and ready to go for just this circumstance. Cataloguing and categorizing my journals is another one of those projects in my life for which I need TIME that I don’t have – at least not in the requisite chunks – because that would provide fodder for filling in when these writer’s blocks hit, and I could even stockpile valuable nuggets for future posts. Trust me – there is some useful stuff in my journals, but it’s buried within pages and pages of day-to-day drivel. Although frankly, when I looked back at my journal for this week, there wasn’t much in there. My brain has been basically blank for days now. Sunday’s entry was literally a single paragraph complaining that I’d just wasted an hour reading my prior blog posts (for the hundredth time, I might add)!

As I’ve mentioned previously (see “An Aspiring Young Writer”, 3/25/15), I do a lot of negative self-talking when it comes to my writing talent (or perceived lack thereof). A frequent theme of that negative self-talk is that I’ll never be as good as such-and-such author (on the short list, John Irving and David Sedaris), so I shouldn’t even try. And while it’s true that many things I’ve read on the Internet could use some serious editing, there are other bloggers/writers who amaze me, not only with the quality of their product but also by how fast and frequently they are able to produce it.

Grantland [grantland.com] has been a favorite online magazine of mine for a while; I tell everyone to read it and I’m always forwarding articles. It covers sports and entertainment and pop culture, and some of the regular contributors are outstanding. One such writer is Sean McIndoe (also known by his Twitter moniker “@Down Goes Brown”) is the resident hockey pundit, and he’s very clever and funny and I don’t miss a column, but one of my absolute favorite contributors (who also writes quite a bit about hockey on Grantland) is Katie Baker. I actually “recommended” her recent article on the Chicago Blackhawks-Nashville Predators triple-overtime game on my Facebook page (“The Party That Never Ends: That Insane Blackhawks-Predators Game and the Joys of Overtime Playoff Hockey”, Grantland, 4/22/15). Not only was it a fantastic article, but she also published it less than 12 hours after the game ended in the wee hours of the morning (admittedly, she’s on the West Coast, but it was still a pretty impressive turnaround time). She’s the kind of individual who you feel like you know personally just from reading her articles and tweets, but what I love best about her is that she is an extremely talented writer (of whom, it goes without saying, I am very envious). Nice little story about Katie Baker: I first discovered her thanks to the suggestion of a work friend who shares my love of hockey, which used to be her primary area of expertise (although she’s branched out to become more of a “feature” writer and she also writes a regular “Wedded Bliss” column, which analyzes nuptials described in The New York Times in all their over-the-top glory). This friend actually met Katie Baker at the Olympic swim trials in Omaha, Nebraska a few years ago – a meeting I actually helped to arrange using Twitter! – and got me a personalized autograph from her on the event program.

Andy Greenwald is another of my favorites on Grantland. He writes mostly about TV but I especially enjoy his articles about Game of Thrones, which literally come out on Monday morning following the weekly Sunday night episode. Granted, he may have pre-broadcast access to the episodes, but even so, his articles are deep and brilliant in their analysis, especially when you consider that they are prepared in such short order! I am so jealous of that talent: It usually takes me days to come up with a blog post of even middling quality, because I have to re-read and re-write it over and over, especially now that my words are going to be seen by eyes other than my own. (If it was not already apparent, a confession: This particular blog post has NOT been re-read and re-written over and over.)

Another of my favorite Internet writers—who writes for the Puck Daddy blog on Yahoo! Sports – is Greg Wyshynski, who impresses me with his prolificity (if that’s not a word, it should be, just to describe how much exceptional material Wysh puts out on a daily basis). I also love his daily podcast with Jeff Marek of Sportsnet (Canada), Marek vs. Wyshynski, and his mini-videos – still more creative endeavors that Wysh manages to cram into his busy days.

These folks are my inspiration, my touchstones, the bloggers/writers who I aspire to emulate. So you would think the least I could do is come up with one measly 1,000-word post every week, especially when I’ve given myself free rein to cover anything I please! For instance, I could write about how I’m enjoying what I’m hearing from the new Blur album that’s been featured as a “New Dig” on WFUV radio station this week – their first record in over 12 years –or how much I’m looking forward to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, although, truth be known, I would have preferred a Rangers-Islanders series; I’m a little fatigued by Rangers-Caps, as this is their fifth match-up in the past seven years. I guess I can look forward to yet another wager with my Cap-fan friend –we’ve broken even over the years, although I took a double-or-nothing win when the Giants beat the Pats in Super Bowl XLVI (and have yet to see my bottle of Bailey’s, thank you very much!).

Or I could mention something I’ve realized about myself recently: I really hate Broadway musicals, and I hate TV commercials advertising them even more. They actually make me inordinately angry. Like, how would anything I’ve seen in this commercial possibly make me want to see this play? I’ve been to a few Broadway musicals, although they were ruined for me when I saw “The Who’s Tommy” back in the ‘80s from a seat in the 3rd row, thanks to my friend Sue Ober getting me surprise tickets for my birthday. There was more spit flying off that stage than from a bench full of hockey players. It was fantastic! The music, of course, the staging – it was made even more meaningful by the fact that I had recently transcribed a series of interviews with Pete Townshend and the producers and actors for a coffee-table book on the behind-the-scenes making of the show, so I knew a ton of cool tidbits about it. No other Broadway musical could ever compare. But generally speaking, I don’t like the limitations of the proscenium arch; I don’t like the forced projection and the emoting and the artifice – all that singing out into space! Gah! Keep your Lion King and Wicked and Mamma Mia!  Give me hockey, or a concert, for live entertainment any day!

Well, that was random . . . but I’ve made it up to 1,000 words. Next week’s post will be more cohesive, I promise!

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