Write Now with Erik Deckers

How a humorist makes words good.

Write Now with Erik Deckers
Photo courtesy of Erik Deckers

Who Are You?

My name is Erik Deckers, and I’m a professional ghost blogger, content marketer, and now, published novelist. I’m based in Orlando, Florida, but I work with clients all over the world. I grew up in Indiana, graduated from Ball State University, and lived in the Hoosier State for 45 years before we moved to Florida.

What Do You Write?

I basically write blog articles for companies that want to be found online and to be seen as the experts in their field. I’ve been doing that for ten years, when I got hired by the guy who originally started the company I now own. After I’d been there for about three months, he sold the company to my business partner and me, and five years ago, I bought my partner out.

For my sideline and personal writing, I write humor. I’ve been a newspaper humor columnist for 24 years, and just completed my first humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, which I launched at the start of May. I’ve also co-authored a few books on social media marketing and personal branding. In fact, I wrote one of the first books on personal branding through social media — Branding Yourself — back in 2010, and then co-wrote No Bullshit Social Media a year later.

I’ve also ghostwritten business books and the occasional memoir.

Where Do You Write?

I’ve got the ideal writing setup because I can write from anywhere. I stow my gear in a Filson briefcase or a backpack and work out of coffee shops all around the city. I also now spend a lot of time at a coworking space in Orlando these days. As long as I can get wifi and a decent latte, I’m all set. I compose mostly at the keyboard, since I can type fast enough to keep up with my interview subjects, or even writing down my own thoughts.

I’m not a big fan of special writing tools or software or any gadgets. I’ve used Apple’s word processing programs since they had MacWrite in the 1980s. I don’t use Scrivener or the other writing programs that most novelists use because I’ve developed my own organization and planning system over the years. Scrivener, et. al. can’t solve any pain points I have, so I stick with my system. If anyone were just starting out though, I would encourage them to learn Scrivener right away and try to grow into that program.

I still go analog once in a while, and write with a blue Pilot G-2 pen (.5 mm) in a Moleskine or Field Notes notebook — a system I’ve used for the last 15 years. I keep different notebooks for different purposes, and I carry those in my briefcase.

And if I really want to go old school, I’ll use one of my old typewriters, a Smith-Corona Silent Super or an L.C. Smith & Corona Silent from 1935. I’ll often write thank you notes and quick little greetings to people on a typewriter. People are often surprised to receive a typewritten letter, because it’s so rare. We hear over and over that you should handwrite notes, but a typewritten note is even more uncommon, so it really stands out.

Of course, I can’t use a typewriter at a coffee shop since it will irritate the other patrons, so I do that at home.

When Do You Write?

When am I not? I’m always writing. My day job is writing, my sideline is writing, my hobby is writing. I’m never not writing. And because those three worlds are so mixed, I’ll work on whatever catches my fancy at the moment. I’ve worked on my novel in the mornings and written client articles late at night, so I don’t keep a writing schedule.

I usually go to bed around 2 in the morning, and get up around 9. I’m at my keyboard around 10 am, and I’ll work through my various deadlines and projects, in addition to the various social media clients and self-promotion I have to do.

I don’t really judge my work by word counts or pages — I can do 3,000 in an hour if I push it — and focus more on time spent rather than word count, but I look at my to-do app and make sure I completed all the day’s tasks, both for clients and for me.

Why Do You Write?

I’m a professional writer because I would otherwise be unemployable. But truthfully, I love writing. I love the act of putting words together for other people to read and enjoy, or as I like to say, “I make words good.” I consider myself very fortunate that I get to do the thing I love the most for my regular job. Not many people get to do that, so I’m grateful for this opportunity.

But I would write even if it weren’t my job. In fact, I might do it more if that were the case. I know there are plenty of days that, by the time I’ve finished my work, I don’t feel like writing anymore. Hell, I don’t even feel like reading, so I just veg out in front of the TV or listen to music. Even then, a bad day of writing is still better than a good day of working in an office.

My inspiration comes from my family, especially my wife. She believes in me and has high hopes for me. That drives me and keeps me doing this, even when I don’t think I’m doing well or won’t finish my works in progress.

How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I’m a professional writer, so I don’t get to have writers block anymore than an accountant gets accountant’s block. A dry cleaner doesn’t get to say, “You know what? I’m just not feeling it today,” and then wait for inspiration to hit. There’s no such thing as lawyer’s block, right?

If you’re the kind of writer who waits for inspiration, and you have to be sitting in your special spot at the right time of day, with your special pot of tea, and the sunlight hitting your special pen and notebook, then you’re not a writer, you’re a scribbler. You’ll never get good at your craft and you’ll definitely suffer from writer’s block.

But if you’re a professional writer, or you want to be, you need to get your ass in the chair and start writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re not feeling it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an idea, any writing you do makes you better. Even if what you produce is complete shit and never sees the light of day, the act of creating it makes you better.

And if your livelihood and your family depends on you churning out the words every day, then you’ll get over writer’s block very quickly. When the difference between you and your family buying groceries is your ability to produce work, you’ll produce the work. You don’t get the luxury of writer’s block — that’s an excuse for the scribblers.

Bottom line: writers write. If you’re stuck for an idea, or you’re stuck on a scene, force it. Start writing through the thing that has you stuck. Write some of the worst dreck imaginable until the juices start flowing and the ideas come again. Go back and delete the bad stuff and leave the rest.

Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?

I like woodworking and building things. I don’t get to do it that often, but I love turning big pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood and seeing what I can build. I especially enjoy building bookshelves and furniture.

I also enjoy visiting new independent coffee shops around Central Florida and seeing if I can find a new favorite. I already have my favorites, but there’s room for one more.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!