Thursday, August 27, 2009

Breaking the Block

As you know, I have been struggling with writer’s block for a long, LONG time. Well, the dam finally broke and the words are flowing. I wanted to share my strategy and the results.

Breaking the Block

1. I took my issues public.
Writing my blogs and your input to them gave me accountability.
2. I made a plan.
My plan was to set aside my WIP and start something new and WRITE every day. I committed to one hour a day to start with, putting BUTT in chair & HANDS on keyboard. I didn't make it everyday but I did make it most of the time.
3. I attended as many RWA chapter meetings as possible for inspiration.
I’m lucky to be centrally located where I have four RWA chapters within a 2 hour drive. And I attend all of them. (It helps that I’m single and kids are grown)
4. I took a couple of interesting writing classes/workshops.
I’m the Queen of online classes. I love them and take a couple every month. But I attended an in person one-day workshop with Margie Lawson that was AWESOME and it really got motivated.
5. I entered a contest.
After a very encouraging critiquing session at one of my chapter meetings, I decided to enter a contest. I knew I’d talk myself out of it if I thought about it too long. I just did it! Then it occurred to me that if I were lucky enough to final in the first round, my ONLY CHAPTERS would go to an editor for final judging. And if that went well, I’d have NOTHING else to submit.

It seems I need a deadline – I work best under the gun, so to speak. So, just in case my WIP finals, goes to the editor for a final judging and does well, I now have 8 more chapters to submit. Yes, you heard right – 8 additional chapters and counting.

What did I learn through all this?

- I leaned that writing is like anything else in our lives. If you have problems your need to share them. I used to think that was whining or a “poor me” attitude. It’s not (or shouldn't be). It’s letting your friends know you have an issue and receiving their support and encouragement.
- I learned that you can wallow in the murkiness or you can make a plan and work the plan.
- I learned that putting yourself out there is one of the biggest motivators. You don’t want to be caught lacking, so you just keep pushing forward – in case somebody (an editor?) notices and wants to see more.
- I learned that what you need is not always what you “think” you need. I wanted reinforcement that my complacency and off-task behavior was understandable and okay. What I needed was Ashlyn Chase to tell me “BICHOK”. I needed Emily Bryan to say that “writing is a muscle that needs exercising.” I needed Carly Carson to quote Stephen King quoting Philip Roth saying, “Amateurs wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”

I love my RWA Chapters. I love the unpub writers who are struggling along with me. I love the published writers who take the time to encourage and mentor others. I love this frustrating, crazy, wonderful thing called writing.

Thanks for the help.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Solution to Writer’s Block

I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to my blog on Writer’s Block. It was interesting to read the different responses; get a fresh perspective or two.

The consensus seems to be split between a mental barrier associated with some disturbing events in my life and a lack of commitment or drive to write. To be honest, both these theories seem to fit. The book I was working on at the time of my daughter’s diagnosis is fully plotted in my head. I’ve worked out every detail. Yet I sit down to work on it and go completely blank. The smallest things will distract me and I’m off to something less stressful (like TV or food!!!).

Then there’s the lack of commitment issue that was offered by a few friends. Boy, that one slapped me full force. What is it we tell our kids; practice makes perfect, if at first you don’t succeed, try again? Yea, that’s it. Then, being good parents, we practice a little tough love. We restrict their “play” time until the job is done. Guess I need a little restriction. Anybody want to adopt me?

Here’s what I’ve come up with for a solution to my writer’s block. I’ve decided it’s a real condition. Remember, an illness doesn’t have to be physical to be real. It can be mental, emotional or even spiritual – but the affects are there just the same. Not that writer’s block is an illness, but it is a condition that has a profound influence on my writing life. And if I’m going to have a writing life, I have to find a way to overcome it.

First I have taken stock of my situation. My daughter still lives and deals with her cancer but she’s doing great. In fact, both kids are doing well as are the grandkids. My day job is going just fine. I have no inherent distractions; I’m single and live alone and even have a housekeeper twice a month. I really have no excuses!!!

Now it’s time for action. It’s a combination strategy of the suggestions offered in my previous blog. I’m going to put my old story aside until I’ve complete at least one new story. I’m going to turn off the TV, move away from the refrigerator, put my butt in the chair, hands on the keyboard and WRITE. I’m going to set aside one hour every evening for this endeavor until I’m writing regularly or hell freezes over! I’m making this commitment in front of you, my friends, for the accountability factor. I’m obviously too easy on myself. Please keep positive thoughts for me over the next little while. I need all the help I can get.

Until later,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Writer's Block, What to do?

I’m so thrilled you dropped by because I need some help!

Many years ago I started writing and I actually finished two manuscripts. This was during the time I was a single parent working two jobs. Then something happened. I wish I knew what it was, but I really have no clue. One day I was writing, the next I wasn’t. It isn’t that I stopped musing over my stories. I think and dream about them all the time – even when I should be focused on other things. But no writing. And let’s face it, being a writer means you have to write!

Some have told me I have writer’s block. Could that be it? Because if it is, I’m doomed. I don’t know what that is, much less know how to fix it.

For a while I thought it was because of some particularly bad news regarding my daughter that I got about the time the writing stopped. She was diagnosed with cancer and given 12 months to live. Well, that would certainly screw up a mother’s life, that’s for sure. Only thing is, five years later, my daughter is doing great. She’s as active and outgoing as ever.

I’ve also thought about all the “excuses” for not writing that I’ve come with over time – everything from my day job to my ever advancing age. But I honestly can’t put the blame on any one thing. Sometimes I’m lazy, but not ALL the time. Sometimes I’m too busy with the day job, but not ALL the time. Maybe sometimes I even forget, but I don’t have Alzheimer’s (at least not the advanced stages). I can’t even blame single parenting, the kids are now grown and doing well.

So I’m stumped. I need to get through this once and for all. I’m hoping you might have an answer, or at least a suggestion, to help me overcome this problem. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear from you.



Monday, June 9, 2008

Online Class

I'm the Queen of online classes. I'm not going to tell you how many classes I've taken in the past two years. It's a little extravagant, so let me just say that I'm a workshop junkie.

Now there are workshops and then, there are workshops. I wouldn't say any of them are bad because it's all in what you're looking for. For example, you won't find me in a workshop that focuses on writing a historical romance. That's not to say it would be a bad workshop, it's just not my interest.

So where will you find me? Well, this last month I took several classes including one called Seven Elements of Story by
Sylvie Kurtz. It was offered by This is one I would highly recommend if you're interested in story concept and writing a story blurb.

This workshop was a journey focusing on my main character. We looked at his background, motivations, his goal and that all important flaw. We identified an ally, the event that catalyst him into the story, and the opponent that would best antagonize my main character. Then we developed a short (couple of sentences) blurb that tied all these elements together.

Sound easy? Well let me tell you it's a little more challenging than you might think. It's easy to write a few of paragraphs with all that information, but narrowing it down to 2 or 3 sentences was tough.

So what does a blurb do for me? Well, believe it or not, it's a short narrative of my story - start to finish. I'll refer to it often to help keep my story on track as I write and when I'm ready to submit my work to an editor/agent, I'll use it as a selling tool to pitch my idea. I call that time well spent.

I'm off now to catch up on my current classes. Did I tell you I was a workshop junkie?
Till next time, happy writing.