Thursday, February 21, 2019

First Word Problems

By Ronda Simmons

Writers can get a little precious about their writing environments and accoutrements. Just the other day I couldn't find my favorite tea and thought my writing day was shot. I was able to find a reasonable substitute, averting tragedy.

My ice cream is melting!

I was feeling pretty good about being able to adapt, improvise, and overcome, as Bear Grylls teaches, but realized that instead, I had just experienced a First World Problem.

Have you heard of them? They are the petty frustrations and minor annoyances that, when contrasted with real-life problems, can make First Worlders look somewhat shallow.

Examples of First World Problems

  • My universal remote died, so I have to point the cable controller at the cable box like a Luddite.

  • I can't wear my hoop earrings and my AirPods at the same time.

  • My hand is too big to reach into my Pringles can, so I am forced to tilt it.

Writer's Have Their Own "First WORD Problems"

After pondering the situation, I decided that irritations unique to the writing community are a particular subset of First World Problems and should have their own moniker.

I call them: First WORD Problems. They are the flimsy excuses writers can come up with when the truth is, they are really just avoiding writing.

The opposite end of the spectrum can be exemplified by Stephanie Land, who wrote about her life as a single mother cleaning bathrooms and living in homeless shelters. Her book, Maid is now a best-seller.

I'm pretty sure she didn't worry too much about what kind of tea she had on hand.

I have heard many, many examples of First Word Problems in my years as a writer. Some of the best came from my own mouth. Here are a few:

First Word Problems

  • I can't write in this coffee shop because someone else is sitting at my favorite table.

  • I'd like to write, but my charging cable is all the way upstairs.

  • I have a deadline, but the new season of "The Norsemen" is coming out today, so . . .

Of all the tables in all the coffee shops in all the world . . .

They say that the first step in overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one. 

Name your First Word Problem and write it out. Think about publishing it.  

Then follow Bear's advice: Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

What about you? Do you have any First Word Problems you are brave enough to share?

Here are a couple of websites to help you combat First Word Problems:

How To Write Whether You Feel Like it Or Not

When You Don't Want to Write

How to Get Out of the "I Don't Want to Write Funk"

And another one, just for fun:

People Post Their Horrible First World Problems on Twitter


Nancy Riley said...

My first word problem is, "I should be writing, but I will check my facebook and Twitter feed first!"

Ronda Simmons said...

For real! Especially when I've posted what I think is a clever tweet and I'm just hoping that someone will give it a like! I tell myself that it's part of my exposure as a writer, but really, I'm mostly just interested in what's going to happen in the next season of "The Norsemen!"

Patricia Stoltey said...

I have tons of free time for the next six days in a row so I'll get plenty of writing soon as I clean out the refrigerator and sort through all my clothes (per Marie Kondo) to ask if each piece gives me joy or not and then bag the joyless items to take to Goodwill.

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