It’s Not So Easy — So Should I Give Up?

For all my (alleged, assumed) writing ability, I’m stumped. I needed to write an article, but the true purpose is to advertise a group’s event (and the group). An advertorial. Articles go in for free (assuming they make it out of the slushpile). Free fits the budget.

I’m pretty good at technical writing. I’ve been praised for my reports on meetings, or at least some meetings. [1] The quality depends on my mood and alertness at the meeting. I always take notes for myself, and believe group notes are valuable, so often get voluntold for it.

[1] I don’t call them Minutes. Those are quasi-legal documents that only record decisions. If I miss a meeting, I want more. I want to know what you considered before making the decisions, and what was discussed that didn’t lead to a decision. A note of who volunteered, or was voluntold (especially if absent) to do what is also good.

For fiction, I’ve finished 1/10 of my million words of garbage, and most of the fiction advice I read these days is familiar. The trail is hard to follow and has many false-leads, but at least I know the landmarks.

But this article? Last season, I took the advice of a friend who used to write advertorials. Start with a story. Easy enough. Almost a formula. Character and problem we can identify with. Group solves the problem. Two similar articles, actually, just changing the character. Seemed okay, but didn’t get in. I read them again today. Adequate little pieces, but nothing special. The editor probably saw through it.

This time I tried a different approach. (I’m tired of creating fictional characters.) It started without a character, but with the feeling that most of our lives we create nothing tangible. It’s a crafting group, and one of the big benefits is I get to make pretty little objects. I get to hold the result in my hands, and all my senses are involved. (Pretty soon I’ll get to make more space on the shelves for them.)

Some moody descriptions, a nice rhythm at one point, but nothing cohesive. I brainstormed for other benefits of belonging. Found another half-dozen easily, and nothing fit. Gave up in frustration and did a brief bit describing the variety of objects they’ll see. The editor said it was too much like an advertisement. Sigh.

Walk it off. Rant and fume about how it’s supposed to be easy. Decide I should suck it up and learn. I’ve watched professionals do this on the fly, and they take dozens of runs. Why should I succeed in two?

I went back to the actual paper yet again, to see examples of what works, and realized that I’d only been interested in one of the articles. Given my reaction to the rest, I’m probably sick of the whole thing. Or maybe I just don’t like reading profiles. I’ve rarely enjoyed biographies.  Give me a few neat things to think about and enough to know if it would fit my schedule — which is the piece I was happy with.

That’s the key to the solution. Stop beating my head against the brick wall. Rule One of choosing a genre to write in is pick one you enjoy reading. I don’t enjoy reading advertorials or profiles. I rarely enjoy biographies or profiles longer than a paragraph. I also remembered that I’d tried to get others to write them, and they assured me I was better at it than they were.

Today I learned, after being annoyed at myself for most of the day, that it’s okay to give up on this one.

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One Response

  1. Today I cleared out the papers. I like to leave them a week or two. Expired flyers are easier to toss.

    I also read the community paper I like. It’s a paper, with articles of local interest. Several articles about local groups caught my eye. I only caught one word in 50, but it was a time issue rather than lack of interest.

    They’re sitting in my basket as samples.

    It will still be a challenge to write articles as often as needed, but the target will be something I might read.

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