Featured Writer on Wellness: Simon James Barron

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on April 10, 2014 • views: 548

Simon Pic

You know, I’ve found a lot of physical challenges in writing, but perhaps not along the lines of what you might envisage.

I know there are all sorts of carpal issues and back issues, and lord only knows that a bloody good seat is absolutely essential, but I find that the biggest physical challenge that impacts most heavily on my ability to get on and write is other people.

The Phone is the Rudest Invention

It’s no secret: I don’t really like people. Telephones are the worst. Stephen Fry is right when he says the phone is the rudest invention, sitting on your desk or in your pocket screaming relentlessly for attention.

And even friendly interactions, like being asked if I want a brew (which I often do), can be maddening, as these queries rarely take into consideration that I might be mid-dialogue! I might have three different voices in my head fighting to get on the page and form cogent discourse that appears at least vaguely coherent!

Seriously, you can spot a passage of dialogue or even basic prose wherein I’ve been interrupted. It’s…clunky. So I would say people are the biggest physical challenge.

Yoga Has a Massively Positive Influence on Most Every Aspect of My Life

I turn the phone off. Works a treat. In other aspects though, I’ve found yoga to be a massively positive influence on almost every aspect of my life, and that includes helping to alleviate neck, shoulder and back pain associated with writing.

As mentioned before, getting a good chair that is comfortable and supportive is essential. I also find that low-profile keyboards are a must have. And plenty of room on your desk to work in.

I Have More Trouble with Frustration than Rejection

[Biggest emotional challenge:] Frustration. I don’t really mind rejection, as that’s part and parcel of being a bloke AND a writer. Being massively arrogant; self-doubt and self-promotion aren’t a problem either.

My motivation is always high and I’m very direct in striving for my goals, and so frustration inevitably slips in. I get frustrated when I get interrupted in writing; when I sense the editing process or other aspects are taking too long; or when I run out of time in the day, week or year.

Frustration leads to anger and depression, because the painful fact is my priority is rarely anyone else’s, and it’s hard to reconcile that when you love what you’re producing more than anyone else ever could.

I don’t cope with it well at all. I find myself descending into a strange cycle where I perceive a lack of progress in a particular direction, whether it be a lack of time to write or a lack of response on editing etc., and I get frustrated, and then anxiety and depression loom and my productivity suffers…until I get some time to write and produce some great stuff or I get communication from a third party that kicks the project on a step.

Then the chocks are away and I’m flying high again and feeling great. Until I meet another frustration, and the cycle begins again. But I’m a mildly bi-polar character, so that’s that.

The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path

Writing is the one thing I’ve always felt a strange visceral ease with. I’m certainly not afraid of hard work, but it’s the one thing that has always just come easily to me. I’m not saying I’ve always been good at it—far from it!—but I’ve never had to work at it either. (This is based on the idea that if someone loves what they do, they can’t call it “work.”)

There’s no better feeling than when someone praises your work, but that’s not why I write. I don’t necessarily write to garner praise. I write because it’s what I feel comes most naturally to me. I am a writer; always have been, even when I was selling underpants in Topshop.

I remember reading an article once by some arrogant young cow who wrote a few articles for some high-heel hawking fashion magazine. She’d become a blogger too. A travel blogger. Turns out all based on daddy’s credit card.

In a writer’s blog she had the bare-faced gall to declare that, unless your primary income is made through writing, you’ve no right to call yourself a writer. I wanted to smack her about the face and neck, because this is patently not true. A writer knows they’re a writer. They don’t do it for the money, they do it for the love. The money helps, though.

Advice for a Young Writer: Develop Your Voice

That’s a tough one. I think fiction writers are born. They’re not all necessarily born GOOD, but you can as effectively teach someone to be a creative songwriter or artist as you can a master storyteller. It’s got to be part of “who you are” not “what you do.”

I’d even go as far as to say that a person who will have a good crack at being a writer will never think, “I want to become a writer;” they’ll think “I AM already a writer yet to be discovered.” If you haven’t reached this zenith yet, then you’re not ready for what the publishing world is going to throw at you anyway.

Steely self-assuredness and determination are a writer’s sword and shield, and setting out in the business without either will get you eaten by trolls.

A voice is essential too. I think any writer of any kind will fumble and struggle in their early careers until they find their voice on the page. Once they hit on that, they’ll have a much better chance of producing the work they’ll sell in spades.

* * *

Manx-born English and psychology graduate and small business owner, Simon James Barron has written magazine articles since 2011 when he was the original editor of Gallery IOM magazine. A painfully loyal LFC fan and lover of sci-fi and comedy films, he can most often be found hiding behind a games controller ignoring the dishes in the sink. Simon is a self-confessed geek, smart-arse and pedant; hoping one day to graduate to full-blown “grumpy old man.”

For more information on Simon and his work, please see his website, or connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


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