Ugh, titles. They’re half the work. Like creativity sinkholes, they either use up all my creative juices just to slap them out on the page or adding ticktock moments of accumulative dread for the inevitable moment I’ll have to name a new piece. Luckily, Gareth Branwyn gives some useful tips for “giving good headlines”, and moreover “suck-less” writing in his 2014 booklet: Gareth’s Tips on Suck-less Writing. On the cover, his patron saint and gonzo-journalist Spider Jerusalem sits haunched over on the toilet, yelling at his computer screen (a crude rendition of a rather beautiful typewriter-cyberpunk laptop mashup, which – by the way – exists now), presumably, Garth writes, “screaming at his editor on his cell phone.”
Gareth was there at the beginning of BoingBoing when it was a physical zine and served as an editor for Mondo 2000. Needless to say: Gareth is both seasoned editor and writer.
New to the editorial world in any official capacity, I’ve gotten a lot out of the book. It’s part of a full-sized book Gareth did in 2014 called Borg Like Me: & Other Tales of Art, Eros and Embedded Systems. Originally written in 1999, Gareth has since souped up Suck-less Writing with annotations and extended thoughts on each section. These include tips like “Split Your Writer and Editor Heads,” “Apply Occam’s Razor,” “Write Like Yourself Only More So” and even “Editors: Give ‘Em (Part of) What They Want.”
I loved the booklet. You can sit and read it in one sitting, but as I go through the waves of emails, interviews, essays and blogs that float across my daily computer screen, I find myself snatching Suck-less Writing from the bookshelf for advice from a seasoned veteran of the online writing world. No entrepreneurial marketing crap with cookie crumb click bait. It’s quirky and practical. It’s real advice.
You can grab a copy of Borg Like Me on Amazon or head over to Gareth’s publishing site, Sparks of Fire Press (another thing about this guy that hits home with me: he’s a big fan of the Muse, and who better to get a creative fire under your arse than William Blake?).