How to Survive as a Writer: 5 Top Tips from Writer’s Block Philippines
The blank page. The blinking cursor. The ticking clock. And then, the slow, gnawing realization that you have nothing, absolutely nothing, to write.
Welcome to a writer’s worst nightmare.
Writer’s block is an experience that has plagued even the best of writers. American author Anne Lamott wrote a gut-wrenching (and accurate) description in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life: “You may experience a jittery form of existential dread, considering the absolute meaninglessness of life and the fact that no one has ever really loved you; you may find yourself consumed with a free-floating shame, and a hopelessness about your work, and the realization that you will have to throw out everything you’ve done so far and start from scratch.”
Stephen King, in his memoir, On Writing, shared an instance when he couldn’t continue a story: “Like Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s epic, I had come to a place where the straight way was lost,” he wrote. He went on long walks for weeks and “circled the problem again and again, beat my fists on it, knocked my head against it,” until he finally found a way to write through it.
The very thought of writer’s block sends shivers down a writer’s spine and when confronted with it, is enough to send him or her over the edge. This is where Ana Santos and Nikka Sarthou come in. Both full-time freelance writers who are familiar with the challenges and pitfalls of the profession, the pair decided to set up “an organization dedicated to empowering writers and to helping them become more effective communicators.” And so, Writer’s Block Philippines was born.
Together, Ana and Nikka hold various seminars and workshops that are designed to help writers discover their own voice and build a business out of their writing (read: 5 Things You Should Know Before Jumpstarting Your Freelance Writing Career). “What we advocate is writing as a form of creative entrepreneurship,” Ana said in a workshop on feature article writing last Saturday. “No more starving artists – this is our mantra.”
Fueled by this grand vision, the duo designed a list of workshops that would help writers stand on their own two feet. “We have to start with the mindset that we’re creative entrepreneurs. We challenge ourselves to make it a sustaining career,” Anna said. Among their popular seminars are Jumpstarting Your Freelance Writing Career, How To Make Money From Writing, and Feature Writing 101. (You can check out the Writer’s Block Philippines website for a complete list of their offerings.)
The Writer’s Block workshop that I attended recently, for example, covered the basics of writing feature articles, such as story structures, angles, and lead-ins. There was even a short exercise afterwards wherein they asked the attendees to write a short piece on a topic of their choice. A few brave souls read what they wrote in front of the class and were given tips on how to improve their work.