In Eddie Wong’s autobiography, Fresh Off The Boat, he describes the cooking phrase “throwing out the first.” Essentially, he says that to get the best flavor or seasoning, you have to cook something as a sacrifice — it’s the same idea as throwing out the first pancake. Wes Dyson applies a similar philosophy to overcoming writer’s block. Enjoy today’s Write Now interview.
Who are you?
Hi! I’m Wes Dyson, a marketer from Western MA and author of Myracles in the Void.
What do you write?
I love world-building and playing around with how characters shape the world and vice versa. That’s why I like writing fantasy and sci-fi most of all; there’s a ton of wiggle room to create something really unique and fun.
I got started writing poetry, actually. Probably because it’s shorter and helped me get comfortable with my voice.
Where do you write?
It’s a complete mess! At least my desk is. And everything around it. Sometimes I find it worthwhile to change where I sit when writing; go outside if it’s nice. Changing the environment can help change the perspective. I use the notes app on my phone a lot to remember ideas that come randomly and inopportunely throughout the day (and usually while I’m trying to sleep).
When do you write?
I used to be hard on myself, but now I try to take a more relaxed approach. I commit to writing at least 500 words a day. Sometimes it’s more, and I celebrate. Sometimes not much comes out at all. When the latter happens, I know it’s usually because there’s something not quite right about the material I’m working on. It’s not straight in my mind yet. I ask myself, why isn’t it inspiring me? If I’m not inspired, then readers won’t be either, so it’s time to take another look at that outline.
Why do you write?
I love the interplay of characters, as well as the interplay of character and setting. I’m inspired by all the things we can say about the human experience and how we can build empathy with one another through a story. I suppose I write in part just because I’ve been so impacted by good stories growing up that I appreciate their power and wish to carry that positivity forward.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
There are two reasons I usually get “The Block.” Either I’m uninspired by some aspect of the scene/characters, or there are too many ideas about where to take it that I’m starting to fight with myself about which is best. Something that works for me is to free write. I think it works because I’m removing the editor and writing without judgment. It’s a way to spark the flow a bit, get the juices going, and clear out the cobwebs. I had a professor who likened free writing to turning on an old faucet – “you have to let all the dirty water flow out before it’s clear and ready to drink.” It’s strange, but it works. More often than not, something usable does drip out from all free writing. Even if it’s one sentence out of a whole page of muddy babble, it’s still more than if I had just sat there.
Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
I’m a hobbyist historian. I devour anything that can pull me into another time period and understand how people were thinking about their particular age and lot in life. There’s a lot of talk today as if things have never been worse, and it’s easy to believe. But digging into history a bit, reading of people living in times of mass ignorance and poverty, constant war, overbearing institutions, and poor health prospects make me quite thankful to live when I do. Perspective can be therapeutic in that way. It’s a hobby good for my mind and soul.
My thanks to Wes Dyson for today’s interview.