Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm Starting With the Man in the Mirror

I've never claimed to be creative.  I've never claimed to be artistic.  In fact, if you go back and look at a few of my older posts, you will see in black and white that I have described myself in exactly the opposite fashion.  Lately I've been wanting to write about something, but have been unable to come up with ANY good ideas.  I've even started writing a few entries, only to get a few paragraphs in, realize what a load of crap it is, and delete every last word in complete disgust.

That's probably my biggest problem.  In my first post on this blog, I made the comment that sometimes I begin writing without any real purpose...I discover a piece of writing while simultaneously creating it.  It can be both exciting and frustrating writing in that way, because there are times (like now) where I just cannot come up with anything worth writing.

In writing, as in life, one of the best ways to improve is to reflect upon one's performance.  If you critique your own work, it's easier to spot faults and make improvements upon them.  So, since I can't come up with any other ideas, I'm going to take this time to reflect.

I read over some of my older posts, and from what I can discern, my biggest problem is sort of contradictory: I don't have any real focus, and my scope of topics is fairly narrow.  I seem to write about the same things over and over...I tell stories involving friends and family, and, with few exceptions, rarely deviate from that formula.  I guess "problem" is the wrong word to describe that, because it's not a "problem."  Every writer draws inspiration from somewhere.  I guess the difference with my writing and that of someone else is that my inspiration is glaringly obvious in every piece I write, and I would rather it be a bit more subtle.

I rarely change from the first-person.  Again, not much of a shock considering virtually all of my stories are about events involving my friends, family, and I.  I wish I had the creativity and ability to use my inspiration from personal experience in a fiction story.  I've always wanted to write a short story, but, again, my lack of creativity hinders me from doing so.  I literally have no original ideas.  That's why I always write about real life.

Reflection isn't all about negativity, though, and there are things I like about my writing.  For one, I think the conversational style is easy to read without being overly simplistic.  I write in a different tone than I talk, but I don't go out of my way to make the vocabulary seem ostentatious.  Is using the word "ostentatious" ostentatious in and of itself?  Nah... 

Also, one characteristic I've noticed in hindsight is that I tend to write two narratives in one.  For example, I wrote a piece a few months ago of which the primary focus was the musical style of the Avett Brothers.  However, almost half the entry was about my father and his love for music.  When I began writing that piece, my full intention was to write about the Avett Brothers, and somehow, there was a seamless connection between that part of the entry and the part about my dad.  The same thing was in the entry about the fiasco with the police officer and Jackie...I talked about Wayne's World at the beginning and it actually worked.  I never intended for that to be the case, but as I read, I like that about my writing.

Again, I have really struggled with ideas, and a lot of times my ideas come from things Liza suggests on her blog, anyway.  I guess I felt as though a self-assessment would help me come up with something.  So, that being said, if you have any words of encouragement, topic ideas, criticism, or anything else, they are welcomed. 


  1. Zach, I'm not saying this "because I should"...based on the fact that you're marrying my sister and you read my blog: I enjoy your blog posts more than just about any others I follow (and I enjoy following quite a few blogs). As you mentioned, I like the careful balance of conversation and subtle intellectual point. I enjoy your knack for storytelling; it really is a gift. I like that your writing makes me think, but is consistently approachable and genuine.

    Here are some things that might lead to topics: allow yourself to just write for ten minutes about whatever comes to mind. Sentences don't have to make sense. At the end, maybe pick out a few of those random thoughts and analyze them.

    Get a book like the "Awe-Manac" that I mention so often. It actually has journal prompts in it, along with random facts about artists, musicians, philosophers, etc. that often inspire me to do further research and ultimately write about something I find.

    Lists are always fun. "Things Zach considers awesome today." "Places I want to visit and the things I want to do there." "Songs that are dumb and here's why."

    Undertake a project and chart your progress.

    Try a new restaurant or coffeeshop every week and give a review of it.

    Read or watch classic books/movies and compare to more modern examples.

    Have Adrienne give you a prompt each week...and encourage her to answer it as well.

  2. I, too, enjoy reading your blogs. Rarely do I read one that doesn't make me smile. I love reading about you and your family connections. Since you are engaged to Adrienne I want to get to know you and your family better. I have to say One of my favorites was the one about the trooper. You pretty much told that story "blow by blow". Another of my favorites was about your feelings for Adrienne. It's not everyday a person reads such a heart felt entry.