terrible creative blog, erin j bernard, ejbwritingstudio, content writing, blog for writers

Welcome, and let me guess: You’re a creative human, and you like to write.

But you struggle with: time management, motivation, grammar, character development, bad moods, slow progress, no progress, weak voice, story flow, crap metaphors, reader engagement, metrics, technology, group critique, originality, self critique, laziness, revising, branding, publishing, starting things, and finishing things.

Yeah. Me, too. But: I’ve been making the writing life work (and pay) for going on a full decade. Like you, I wage a constant battle with various assorted writing bugaboos. Some days, I think myself terribly brilliant. And other days, I suspect I am just plain terrible. But always, I take damned good notes. And I’m sharing them here with you.

ejb writing studio, terrible creative blog, erin j bernard, viewfinder

What Would the Cool Kids Do? On Creative Envy and the Definitive Value of Shouting into Voids

You can’t escape the Cool Kids.

Sorry. You can’t. No matter how old you get, no matter the profession you choose, no matter how far from your hometown you travel, there they’ll be—outpacing you, outmaneuvering you, outshining you, and doing it all with the kind of purposeful ease that makes averagely gifted bystanders want to punch granite.

You just. can’t. escape them.

Before adulthood, I never paid that much attention to Cool Kids. When I was young (primary schooler, late 1980s) I was too deliciously weird to entertain a dripping Froyo’s chance in Hades of joining them. When I was young-ish (adolescent, 1990s) weirdo-ness came briefly into vogue and though I was never at the tip-top of any sort of heap, I qualified as Solidly Cool. But I didn’t even really get to enjoy it; that legitimizing flutter of status-satisfaction quickly faded amidst the sucking muck of shitty teenagedom. And then I got old.

Continue reading

turn to clear vision, telescope, terrible creative blog, ejb writing studio, erin j bernard

Wanna Define Writing Success on Your Own Terms? Ask Yourself One Magic Question.

About four years ago, out of a desire to clarify a few longer-term writing goals, I hired a creative career coach to take me through a few visioning sessions.

As we sat together on the floor of my office one sunny Tuesday, sketching out a visual map of my deepest writerly desires, I earnestly announced that I believed I had something important to teach other people, and that I felt I could best achieve this through the written word.

She listened carefully, and then she posed to me what I have come to think of as the Magic Question. At the time, though, it felt less magical and more like an upper cut straight to the guts: “Why does it matter if other people read your work?”

I felt defensive, slightly annoyed, even. What manner of New Age Zen riddle was this? Of course people needed to read my writing! Wasn’t being widely read the whole point of writing anything at all?

Continue reading

old book, black and white book, gothic, dirt, moldering book, erin j bernard, ejb writing studio

Bringing the Pain: Why Writing Well Hurts

“Eliminate things until you cry.”


Ever noticed how painful writing is?

I don’t mean the bodily act of it, although that definitely smarts, especially around the eyeballs, neck, and shoulders. (FWIW, yoga and stretching are shockingly beneficial for those committed to sedentary creative pursuits, as is learning to stop craning your neck forward like a horny turtle every time you get excited over a particular bit of prose dancing across your screen.)

Continue reading

ejb writing studio, erin j bernard, old books, novels

Ten Million Unwritten Novels: How To Keep Creating Stuff When There Just Isn’t Time

Driving home tonight, I found myself feeling almost unbearably creatively suppressed.

Dramatic, right? But it’s true. I’m terribly busy with family obligations, plus the task of wrapping a large editing project with a tighter-than-tight deadline, and it’s felt lately like all I do with the miniscule shred of free time that’s left is sit in the damned car. Traffic has become unbearable in my city these past few years, but there is a bright spot: I have also discovered that my mind does some of its best wandering when I’m spacing out at the wheel.

Continue reading

black and white, urban, fire hydrant, shadows, erin j bernard, terrible creative blog, ejb writing studio

Unimaginable Unthings: Telling the Story You’re too Afraid to Tell

If you’ve ever had something really shitty happen to you, then you’ve probably noticed the same thing I’ve noticed.

Well intentioned friends and family, in the course of offering you their condolences, will often default to the same, tired three-word phrase: “I couldn’t imagine.”

I had two miscarriages a few years back, and folks lobbed this platitude (or some variation of it) at me quite a lot. Sometimes they couldn’t even imagine, or couldn’t begin to imagine. The braver among them could scarcely or hardly imagine. But always, there was a whole lot of not-imagining stuff going on.

Continue reading

erin j bernard, terrible creative blog, ejb writing studio, newspaper clip, black and white print, clipping

Writer’s Challenge: Stop Clip-Shaming Yourself!

I can still recall the thrill of my very first newspaper byline—it imparted a buzz far better than drugs (some of them, at least), and the memory of it still gives me a posthumous kick of heady glee.

I was living in Missouri, and it was my first week of grad school, and I’d been asked to write a one-page arts feature for the local newspaper’s weekend insert.

My assignment: to cover a mini-concert headlined by three teenaged rock and hip-hop bands and staged atop a parking garage at sunset. Small peanuts, but that didn’t stop me from my nerves.

Continue reading