Avoid the Newspaper Syndrome

easter seals kids art

Repetition works great in art; not so much in writing.

Have you opened the newspaper only to want to close it again? It happens to me very often. I know it’s not right, but sometimes I feel the amount of media blitzkrieg that happens on any topic that is currently in the news deadens me to the subject completely.

You can’t read the same old headlines and words and issues over and over again every single morning and hope to be inspired to action. I think somewhere that approach of the media does not work. It’s the same for creative writing too.

You know, as writers we all have our favourite words, and tricks and ideas of how to get the plot from point A to point B. And we use it when we can’t think of a smarter new route. I call this the Newspaper Syndrome: rehashing the same stuff over and over again.

But what you need to remember is this: just as you are smart enough to create a structure and dress it up with new characters and situations; your reader is as smart, if not smarter. She can as efficiently undress your entire story down to its bare structure within the first few pages or lines, depending on what you have written.

You see, the reader in my opinion is a curious being by nature. When I read a story, I look for a pattern. My mind works furiously at discovering the REAL story behind the story. And the human mind is trained to detect patterns for that is what we live by.

So when I read multiple books by a single author, I seek out his underlying philosophy, how he presents his story. Now my guess is, if this is how I read, there must be others who do the same. Hence, if I want my readers to read me regularly, I must avoid this trap of hashing out the same old story and plot every time. The effort has to be conscious to create and discover new storylines, new concepts and new lives that your reader can explore along with you.

This element of newness, of surprise is what I feel makes a writer really popular. Whether it is an email campaign that gets delivered to my mailbox regularly, or a person writing online stories or poems, my mind seeks out the different. If I know there is something new for me to feed on with a certain writer, I will visit their blog regularly, I will open their mails. But give me the same stuff over and over again… and I will just skip the page, the story, the mail. Just as I do with the newspapers.

Something for me to remember when I do my writing.

~ Bharti Athray

Image source: monkeymucker.blogspot.com

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