Thank you to Savvy Authors for hosting me on their awesome blog.
An author faces a lot of challenges in every step on the road to finishing a manuscript, publication and promotion. Today, let’s talk about one of the biggest challenge of all: writer’s block.
Writer’s block bogs me down for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s just so hard to finish a single paragraph or chapter, let alone an entire book, and it can be nerve-wracking to write a synopsis or query letter within a certain word count. It’s a pain to overcome and this dreaded block attacks all of us at one point or another. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fresh new voice in the literary world or a veteran writer—if you write, you will experience this.
Sometimes, even though I know what I want to say, everything I write turns out terrible. Other times I just stare at the blank word document on my laptop without a clue as to what to say. It’s as if I’m brain dead. What’s worse is when I’m on a roll, everything sounds great and I stay up into the wee hours of the morning to finish this awesome new scene. The next day, however, I read over what I wrote and realize that my latest idea deviated from my plot line and doesn’t flow well with the rest of the story, hence I wrote myself into a corner. Usually, that corner is a prelude to writer’s block and frustration impedes all my attempts to weasel out of that nasty corner.
Frustration dims imagination and all I visualize is what I wrote so far. I can’t see the future for my characters, not even a glimmer, and all I want to do is kill them off—which may not be a bad idea in some cases. Usually, though, I cut a few sentences here, a few paragraphs there and butcher the book. I take out what isn’t really needed and focus on bare-boned structure. Frustration then turns into sadness and I hate my book in its butchered state. It’s difficult to cut scenes that I spent a lot of time on but I have to do it. New ideas then surge through my mind once I realize that not everything I write is gold, especially on a first draft. That’s when I change a character’s back story, their motivation or goals or something else that I had once believed was important in the book, which means I have to cut even more scenes to piece my book back together.
If cutting scenes or reworking the manuscript doesn’t help, I go to plan B. I put aside my WIP and read!
Reading is like a portal that opens the mind and heart to countless possibilities. The imagination is a wondrous thing and reading inspires me. Disappearing into another author’s world gives my creative juices the kick it needs. Ideas form, twist and shape into something completely wild and original. I sometimes wonder why I didn’t come up with these ideas before.
Well, that’s because I had blocked my imagination by trying too hard to write the perfect book in a first draft. Yes, I fear I’m a tad bit of a perfectionist. I try too hard and my writing, along with my imagination, suffers. Reading gives my mind time to rest and heal from the stress I put it under. After a while, whether I relax for a few days or weeks, the motivation I need to continue my WIP or to start a new manuscript jumps up and down in my mind like a kid at a carnival. I take at least one or two breathers with every book I write. Once my motivation returns, I let the characters take me wherever they want to go.
I always read in the genre that I want to write. It makes little since to read a sci/fi romance about scrumptious aliens who kidnap Earth women if I’m writing a book about a dashing English rake and his fleeing heroine. There are well over a hundred romance books of various subgenres in my office, plus over 750 ebooks on my Kindle, so I’m never in short supply of a great book. It’s good to have a few go-to books on hand as well—just in case the books you decide to read don’t help in the imagination department. When I read old favorites, I tend to remember how I felt the first or second time that I read that story. Usually, the excitement and happiness that I feel ignites a spark in the darkest nether realms of my mind. An idea emerges and takes over everything else.
If reading doesn’t help, I shelve the book for a while and start something new. Months, sometimes years, go by before I return to my troublesome WIP with a fresh idea or a new start.
I never stop writing. It’s far too easy to get into a routine of non-writing. It’s the worst thing an author could do. Don’t let fear, rejection or discouragement keep you from your pen and pad, or keyboard. Self doubt is a powerful thing so you should always write something, whether or not you mean to publish it in the future. Write for you. Write to exercise your mind and to spark creativity. Eventually, you should be able to work through your manuscript’s problems and the reward will be all the sweeter when you type The End.
There are lots of techniques to deal with writer’s block and to guide you down the right path. Cutting words and reading books works best for me. What works best for you? Leave me a comment. I’d love to find out!
Writing is the fruit to happiness.
Author of Forever Winter and A Hero’s Heart, Amber Daulton lives her life by that one belief even though she normally isn’t so Zen.
She lives in the beautiful foothills of North Carolina with her wonderful husband and their five crazy kitties. Writing takes up most of her time, aside from her day job in the retail industry. As a fan of contemporary, paranormal and historical novels alike, she can’t get enough of feisty heroines and alpha heroes. Her mind is a wonderland of romance and adventure, laughter and awesome ways of kicking a guy when he’s down. She probably wouldn’t be too sane without her computer and notebooks. After all, what’s a girl to do when there are people jabbering away in her head and it’s hard to shut them up? Write! Nothing else works.
Ten years ago, Jarrett Brandt left home and abandoned everyone of importance. After a hard reality check, the irresponsible young man matured into a ballsy DEA agent with a kickass Harley Davidson and a million-dollar bounty on his head. Ordered by his superior officer to take refuge at a safe house just days before Christmas, he headed back home to Washington State, instead, to make peace with his deceased brother’s memory.
Marissa Reinn Brandt never expected to see Jarrett again. Best friends since childhood and lovers as teenagers, immaturity, over-demanding parents and illicit drugs ripped them apart. Now a successful chef at a posh restaurant, the young widow and her son offered Jarrett a place to stay for the holiday. Even though she expected nothing from her former lover—the twin brother of the man she married—fate intervened.
As Jarrett and Marissa rekindled the flames of love and lust that once bound them together, an enemy from his past and a trusted mentor from his present vied their time in the snowy dark and threatened to destroy everyone he held dear. He needed a Christmas miracle to save his family and the love of a good woman to heal his battered heart. Nothing, no one, would stand in the way of his second chance with Marissa. Come hell or high water, he would cherish her body and her heart for all time.
Buy ‘A Hero’s Heart’ at Amazon.