From the blank page syndrome to the writing syndrome: nine (9) goals to cure

Muna Kalati

How many times have you picked up your pen or activated your keyboard and discarded it without writing a sentence or even a word? How many times have you thought you had a great idea to put down on paper and ended up with half a page of writing after hours of thinking? How many times have you wanted to give up, but the desire to be read as you read others has remained strong?  You then decide to find out how to write an article or a post. After some enriching readings on tips for writing, you realise that you are making progress in your knowledge but remain blocked in your thirst for writing. Perhaps the only difficulty in producing is in the area you wish to write in. There are authors who are able to write in several fields or to talk about several subjects but this may not be the case for you because you are particularly interested in one specific field. In this article, I will give you some techniques for writing, using literature as an example.

Knowing your area of interest

It is important to determine your interest. What is the area you are passionate about and from which you want to share your thoughts or deepen your knowledge? Because writing is above all about acquiring knowledge. The fact that you want to write may be due to the fact that you have already had to read texts in the field that appeals to you. It is an area that occupies your thoughts and perhaps your actions in some way. In the case of literature, you may decide to focus only on children’s literature.  When the field is circumscribed, like a bookworm, you start reading about what has been said about the discipline in order to avoid rewriting, and probably with less efficiency, what has already been said.

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From idea to reading and from reading to idea

When you start reading, you may already have ideas for topics, so use the keywords in your idea to search both library catalogues and search engines. With digitisation, it is easier to get articles, especially non-scientific ones, in large numbers on the internet. A reading leads you to what in scientific language would be called a literature review which helps you to take stock of the subject. Thus, you can start with a text on a topic and decide to go further on the topic by writing an article. BFor example, this article is not the first on how to write but the reflection is directed towards a specific field, that of literature. These readings allow you to either confirm your initial ideas or to change them altogether. So you can go from idea to reading and from reading to improved idea.

Your readings in literature may lead you to narrow your field and choose a sub-genre, for example, children’s literature. Once you have made your choice, you may decide to do only reading notes, only thematic analyses or focus on reviewing new writins.

Adapt to the distribution channel

Are you writing for a personal blog, a magazine, a journal or a website specialised in literature?  Each of these will allow you to plan your writing over time. If the publications are on daily or weekly base, make sure you don’t keep your readers waiting. Because, if you write and publish, it is above all to be read. It is an informal agreement between you and your readers. You can be absent for moments, but it shouldn’t be very long, or your readership will be driven away.

Hold on to your notebook

When you are interested in writing, it is difficult to choose the right time to be inspired. You can still choose the right time to write, but not the right time for inspiration. Very often, inspiration comes out of nowhere and flies through your mind like a rocket. You should therefore always hold on a notebook in order to immortalise your inspiration on it, whether paper or digital. Always formulate the idea as a theme or a question. For example, you come across a recently published comic book and you want to write: How can I be the first to make notes on comics produced by publishing houses in Côte d’Ivoire?

The notebook should be consulted regularly to review the themes or ideas written down. An idea that is written down and considered obsolete may turn out to be topical later on and vice versa.

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Ask for advice

Your desire to write may be linked to your taste for reading a particular writer. Never hesitate to contact someone whose writing appeals to you and ask for his advice. Not everybody will respond favourably to you, but remember that there are always people who are willing to help you. Your determination and desire to produce must be greater than your degree of shame, fear or rejection. It’s all about daring, yes, you should dare!

Get proofread

Writing is special in that it requires grammar and spelling rules and style. Unless you want to make a grammatical or spelling revolution or you want to go against the norm, you must try, as far as possible, to improve the quality of your text. Be assured, few people are able to write without mistakes and without being proofread.  You should always have your text proofread, not only to reduce the risk of publishing a text full of mistakes, but also to get a first opinion on your production. Remember that the decision to publish, even after proofreading, is yours alone and you will be responsible for ensuring feedback from readers.

Publish or Get Published

Writing is about being read and to be read you have to publish. If after writing and proofreading you feel that your text can be published, do not hesitate to do so. Before the article is published, you have no idea of its impact. So you cannot remain in the eternal position of improving it before publication. It often happens that changes are made every time you read a document again. At some point you have to publish it, not only to benefit from the feedback but also to move on. The only reason to stop publishing an article or post you have written is if the publisher of the channel through which you are publishing your writing refuses to accept it. Because the rules of publishers are different, you may find that an article is not published if it does not fit the protocol of the channel.

Cultivate the writing syndrome

Writing is similar to most activities we carry out.  By repeating the same action over and over again, we end up treating it as a game. The so call blank page syndrome can therefore only be treated with the writing syndrome.  You must get used to writing. Practice, if possible, with all the writing styles available to us. Writing is first of all mastering the basic rules of a language, namely reading and writing.   Improving writing is a permanent quest and only stops with death or certain illnesses that can affect the mind or upper limbs.  Know that your style improves with practice. Very often, when reading one’s first texts, one feels like denying authorship, but one should not forget the fact that it is these first texts that will pave the way for those that come after.

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Always have a bank of texts

The writer Léonora Miano, while dedicating one of her books, responded to a reader’s question about her regular publications and made it clear that she had several texts written and that were just waiting for the right moment to be published.  She is certainly a novelist with long texts that require more imagination, but this statement makes us to understand that publishing regularly requires having a text bank. It is a matter of always having several texts in your computer or your writing materials, even if they are unfinished. There will be days when you will have several ideas, so don’t hesitate to find moments to develop them. Whatever the number, do it because there will be days when you will not be able to produce.  But your readers or editors may not forgive you. So produce as much as you can to add to your bank of unpublished material.

The particularity of a blog post or article is that it escapes the scientific canons of research which oblige writers to read a certain number of texts, to use methods and concepts recognised only by researchers in the same field. A writer of single articles or blog posts therefore has fewer restrictions to produce. He or she must then use the opportunity to disseminate his or her thoughts.

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