How About A Writing Update?

(Sunday Paper, Volume II, Issue 21)

Last week I told you I might devote a whole Sunday Paper to my writing. 

Technically, all Sunday Papers are devoted to my writing, since it's my little writing exercise every week to make sure, even in the weeks where not a whole lot is going on in my writing life, I'm getting my writing reps in.

But I shouldn't get technical...because what I meant was: I've given you a few Sunday Papers devoted solely to what I have going on in the comedy world.

So this week, instead of the little paragraph about writing that I give you each week, I thought I'd give you a whole post about what my writing life has been like these past few years.

First of all, this was a pretty good week to write about writing, because I had three different assignments that created the pretty typical writing week for me:

The writing itself is no problem. I can bang out an article pretty quickly. The issue is what lays out of my control - I often need to interview experts to have quotes that go along with the story. Sometimes this happens immediately - I put in a request and get the quotes right away. Sometimes I am writing the story last-minute because I don't hear back from who I need to hear back from until the last minute...sometimes - but rarely - even needing to push back a deadline because I'm still waiting for a response. (Sometimes this is done over the phone, sometimes it's by e-mail. If you know me, you know my preference....but you might also be surprised to learn how much time I do spend talking on the phone.)

So this week for one of the articles I heard back right away, for a second I kept hearing back from contacts but didn't nail down a source until late in the week, and for a third I heard nothing for more than a week despite multiple attempts. (This is another problem I have - I tend to trust people too much and sometimes put all my eggs in one basket and that basket ends up never calling me back.)

Overall, I appreciate these media contacts - in general they do great work helping me get my work done and I am learning to use them in a more regular and efficient way.

So that's, in a nutshell, how it goes when I have to write an article...depending on what the article is. (There are other times I need to do research and don't have to quote anyone and I can do all of my research on-line. That's obviously great because I don't have to rely on anyone but me.)

I have a couple of regular, steady sources of work. One is writing blog posts and case studies for a technology company. There I'm learning stuff I never knew which can only help me in other endeavors. It's like I'm back in the TV business, where you learn a little bit about a lot of different topics, never quite becoming an expert in anything but having a good understanding about many different subjects. The other is the articles I've referenced above. You might stumble across one or two of these some day. They sometimes appear in those magazine inserts that come in local newspapers, usually. 

And then there's my creative writing. That's why I do this blog - it helps me fill the down time when I don't have assignments coming from the regular, steady sources of work. And it's a little too unstructured for me - I know I should be doing better than just working on the Sunday Paper each week. I love writing personal essays, but I don't discipline myself to write one as often as I think up a topic for one. And I have a grand idea for a book but I don't quite know how to tie it all together yet...and I probably should just start writing the thing but something holds me back.

And there's the biggest complication about the writing thing. It's partly why I'm reluctant to write about it here for more than a couple of sentences a week. There is so much failure involved on the creative side. I've said this before out loud to a lot of people - it's a lot like comedy. I have to put myself out there in both endeavors, but for whatever reason I'm a lot less willing to deal with rejection for my writing.

It's hard sending something out and hearing 'no'...or not getting a response at all. It's a necessary part of the work....but it hasn't yet gotten easier for me. I'm trying to figure out the right approach - whether I should be a machine sending out a bunch of stuff to a bunch of places all at once, or just take one piece and fish it out to different places bit by bit - anything, really, that will get me away from the 'sitting and overthinking it' approach I usually take. Which is super-hard because then I work on a piece to where I think it is un-rejectable....only to see it rejected when I do take the leap. (And, to be honest, I think I could get everything I write placed somewhere, but as I've progressed as a writer these past few years I've become a little more selective about where I submit my work to. I'm trying to make a living at this, after all, and I'm not going to give away my work for next to nothing in payment.)

So that's the update. The writing is going well. The thing is, I know it could be going better. I could be busier on a day-to-day basis - it does come in waves. But I'm doing better today than I was a year ago, and I know that trajectory will continue because I'm figuring it out more and more each day, each week, each month.

I'll keep you posted.


*Had a great time Thursday night in Lewiston, Maine. I've rarely had a bad experience up in Maine - I've met some great people, had the chance to do some great shows, and I always love driving up there. This week I have The Comedy Studio on Thursday night for the first time in months - I'm happy to be getting back there. (David Spade dropped in there Saturday night! Come on out Thursday - you never know who you might see!)

*Saturday night I'm hosting a show in Framingham. It's a $25 ticket for the show and food at the buffet. If you're local and you're around on Saturday, we can make that a pretty fun night.

What I've Been Enjoying

*Not going to lie - been a busy week and I didn't even know if I'd have something to write about here. I'm going to go with Bear Bones Beer - it's the brewery where I performed in Maine on Thursday and I couldn't drink a ton because I had to drive home after the show but I had a really good beer there and it's a neat little spot and if you're ever in Lewiston I'd recommend checking it out.


*Holy heck how is next week already Memorial Day Weekend? We made it through the busy month, so that's good, but I'm not sure I'm ready for the last month of school.

*As I was writing this entry I remembered that my first freelance writing job was an assignment writing trivia questions. My understanding is that they were for one of those companies where you go to a bar and they have the TV screens that cycle through those trivia questions. I wrote sports questions centered around the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Hockey Hall of Famers,  the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets. I forget the number but I wrote something like 500 questions. It was pretty fun. I finished it and kind of wished I could do it again because by the end I had a better strategy for attacking it than when I started. Hope people enjoy those questions out there in the bar trivia world.

*Hit kind of a family milestone Saturday night: We went out to dinner and it was just plain enjoyable. Not that our kids are usually ill-behaved - far from it. Just that, as our youngest approaches her sixth birthday, we had three really well-behaved kids at a restaurant and didn't have to worry about any parenting stuff the whole time - it was just sitting there and eating out. It didn't even occur to me until afterwards...but we might have turned a corner and now have three self-sufficient children. 

*Once again, I really appreciate the support and the fact you're reading. Part of me thinks you must think, "Boy, who does John think he is writing about his work like we even care?" And then another part of me thinks, 1) I think writing this type of entry kind of holds me accountable to make sure I'm actually working, 2) Sometimes I need to prove to people (hi Kathy!) that I am actually working, and 3) I think, if I was in your shoes and you were in mine, I'd want to know what you did all day. So I'm covering those bases.