David Carr, the New York Times writer on the media beat, died suddenly last night. He had a distinctive voice, literally, with a gravelly edge and a sharp bite to it. But his voice as a writer was just as distinctive and bold and authentic.
His advice to writers, and creators of any sort, is right on. When he was asked for “his favorite cure for writer’s block”, he responded: “Typing.”
That’s the one word cure and very much the same sentiment as Seth Godin’s take:
Writer’s block isn’t hard to cure.
Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.
I believe that everyone should write in public. Get a blog. Or use Squidoo or Tumblr or a microblogging site. Use an alias if you like. Turn off comments, certainly–you don’t need more criticism, you need more writing.
Do it every day. Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis. Clear, crisp, honest writing about what you see in the world. Or want to see. Or teach (in writing). Tell us how to do something.
If you know you have to write something every single day, even a paragraph, you will improve your writing. If you’re concerned with quality, of course, then not writing is not a problem, because zero is perfect and without defects. Shipping nothing is safe.
The second best thing to zero is something better than bad. So if you know you have to write tomorrow, your brain will start working on something better than bad. And then you’ll inevitably redefine bad and tomorrow will be better than that. And on and on.
Write like you talk. Often.
Just keep typing.