Sunday, February 19, 2017

Writer's misforune.

As a writer, I am very sympathetic to the occupational hazards that other writers face. One well-known problem is writer's block. 

Writer's block is a serious problem to someone who has achieved the freedom to write for a living. Wikipedia tells us that it's affected Fitzgerald and perhaps Melville, and Fran Lebowitz had a famous 10-year block at the height of her career. 

While one might think more or less of a writer's output, we all feel it when he goes down with the Block, just as every football player felt it when Joe Theismann came a cropper on Monday Night Football.

So I felt nothing but sadness and sympathy when I heard that one of America's most prolific writers was giving up the game over writer's block. News reports last Monday informed us that Donald Lau, the nation's #1 writer of fortune cookie messages, was packing it in after 30 years over a terrible case of writer's block. He said, "I used to write 100 a year, but I've only written two or three a month over the past year."

The blank fortune, staring back at you.

I'm sure that Lau tried everything to break the block. But just in case, I've adapted some tips from Writer's Digest's "7 Ways to Overcome Writer's Block" specifically for the fortune cookie author.

πŸ“ Do something else that's creative.
Paint a picture. Sing a song. Bake a cake and stick pages from your journal between the layers.

πŸ“ Try freewriting.
The act of letting the pen go where it wants. Jot down any old thing that comes to mind, As much as you can. Do it on a ¼ x 2" piece of paper.

πŸ“ Eliminate distractions. Get away from other people, away from your chores, away from your phone, away from baked goods.

πŸ“Write early in the day. Maybe over breakfast. Note some ideas and cram them in an English muffin.

All kidding aside, I want to point out that Mr. Lau achieved something most writers never do in making a living at writing. As T.S. Eliot once snipped, "Some editors are failed writers -- but so are most writers." Mr. Lau is a successful writer.

I see that he's training his replacement. I have to wonder what the position pays. Not a job for me, though. I tried my hand at a few last year, when I was complaining about the work of other, lesser fortune cookie authors, and I think I'd better stick to novels.

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