If you couldn’t guess from the dead giveaway title, I had a hard time thinking about what to write about for this week’s piece on Odyssey. The irony…
Writer’s Block, or hitting a dead end when you are developing an idea, topic, or direction for a writing piece, is the most frustrating thing you can experience as an author. The only remedy for Writer’s Block is inspiration; if you aren’t inspired enough, no good work is going to come out of you. It really cuts into your schedule and creative process when you are someone working with deadlines.
Being someone with Writer’s Block for a social content platform is a little different from experiencing Writer’s Block in traditional writing. For Odyssey, in particular, the goal is to produce content on a weekly basis. Always having something for your readers to turn to at the beginning of the week is really what makes the website so engaging. You get the opportunity to have an ongoing conversation on a multitude of subjects with readers all over the world.
The hard thing about writing online is that it sometimes has a very short production span and a very fast turnaround. That basically means that within a week, you’ve got to have a topic chosen, research on the topic done when needed, a version drafted, media photos and gifs picked out and ready to be properly sourced, and a final draft to submit, all in seven days. Ideally, at least, is how this process should work. That’s a lot of pressure for a person to create intriguing, quality content that will attract a wide audience, and yet also stem from one’s personal scope of interest, writing style, and expertise. Writer’s Block completely stalls and derails that process.
Just like any other person who has to write a long-term essay, research proposal, or book draft, sometimes an idea comes too late in the game. You don’t come up with a good topic until Wednesday, and your final draft is due Friday. You can have an idea that seems really great in your mind, and sometimes by the time you’ve done your drafting and researching, you realize your work just does not “add up” for a variety of reasons. Tone, style, imagery, and sometimes a simple header photo to relate to your piece can be hard to find and even harder to execute in a pleasing fashion.
Even worse is when you get suddenly inspired and haul ass to get to that finished product, you review the whole thing, and realize that after hours or days or working, this week’s article reads like crap. The pressure at this juncture is really on to find something good to write about for the week, and sometimes you resort to gimmicky, clichéd topics that are easy and almost mindless to write about. If someone else has already stated their stance or experience about something online, chances are you’ll have your two cents to chime in with, too. Sometimes, you luck out and a second shot at writing leaves you with a relatable, readable, shareable article that lots of people like. Other weeks, you Google “Odyssey Online, Open Letter To My Boyfriend” and see dozens far too similar to yours- it happens. Some days are good, and some days are bad in terms of content creation.
Getting a personal opinion when you have Writer’s Block might not always be the most helpful thing, as no matter how much someone likes something you’ve written, if you hate it, you hate it. It’s honestly a lot easier to receive criticism on a piece you loved writing and wish to improve, than receive praise on something you know is straight up garbage in comparison to your usual content. When publishing to a platform like Odyssey, asking that “second opinion” is really asking the second of a possible third, fourth, or fifth opinion from everyone from your community’s editorial team, to the readers who share their posts and comments on Facebook.
Writer’s Block, at least in the scope of Odyssey, can induce panic. It stakes a claim on everything from what your topic is to what your readers think of your work. Other aspects of the Odyssey writing process, like having your articles shared online and choosing good media and captions to go along with them, are also victims of your momentary inability to come up with anything “good.” “Good” is also a subjective term- your “worst” article given your writing capabilities and personal stylistic preferences could be a “best” article if it were penned under the name of another author. The creative process- whether it is for writing, visual arts, music- is very touch and go and will change as much as a person’s mood does.
So, don’t let Writer’s Block get to you—it happens to everyone. Even though it happened to me with this article, it’s a phenomenon very specific to that of writers that inspired me enough to highlight it this week in my article. You never know where you’ll find your next writing muse!