How did you become a writer? The usual way. I wanted to become a sports columnist so I went to journalism school. I fell in love with advertising and became a copywriter instead. Then a creative director. Then I owned my own agency, which meant I spent more time in meetings than actually writing. Then I started tweeting as a creative release, which helped me find a comedic voice I didn’t know I was looking for, really. And I got some attention as a result. Then I was brought out to Hollywood to work on some projects, which opened up even more doors. Now I’m a freelance writer doing all kinds of things. One of which is writing a column for a sports magazine, so I guess I made it.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.)? Ray Bradbury. Hemingway. Ad man David Ogilvy. Writer/performers like Stan Freberg, Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, and Bob and Ray. If you like great writing, listen to The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. My favorite author, however, is Cormac McCarthy. I happen to think “Blood Meridian” is one of the best American books ever written. I also wonder if this is the first time Bob Newhart and Cormac McCarthy have been mentioned in the same paragraph.
When and where do you write? I write at my computer in my upstairs office, but I try to do as much thinking as possible away from the computer. It’s the ad guy in me. I do a lot of my thinking with a pencil and blank paper. I have a system built on scribbles and doodles and circles and stars and arrows. Then I go write and rewrite (and rewrite) on the computer. I’m a night owl, but I tend to do my thinking at night and my writing in the morning. The afternoon is my self-loathing time.
What are you working on now? I’m putting the finishing touches on a comic book miniseries for Dark Horse. The first issue of “Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows” comes out December 18. This is my second Vader series.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? I use the excuse all the time, but even I don’t believe myself. Sometimes I feel really productive and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes my brain pumps out great idea after great idea and sometimes it doesn’t. I try to look for clues one way or another and adjust accordingly. It might mean working on something else for a while. Or letting the subconscious work things out while I take a walk. Other times it means a 15-hour writing session.
What’s your advice to new writers? Beyond reading and writing? My advice would be to live a creative life. By that I mean, keep your radar up at all times. Go places. Do things. Look around. Observe other people. Listen to how they talk. The worst thing a creative person can do is sit in a room and create all day. Let new stuff flow into your brain and collide with all that old stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. Then make sure you have a pencil and some blank paper handy, just in case there’s a spark.
Bio: Tim Siedell is a freelance writer living in Nebraska. He remains best known for his Twitter account, which is a fact he finds somewhat embarrassing. He’s been called one of the best people to follow on Twitter by the likes of Maxim, MSNBC, NPR and TIME magazine—and has twice been named the top person to follow by Paste Magazine. Advertising Age named him one of 21 influencers reshaping media.