A Conversation about Writer’s Block

Thank you to D.A. Kori Prier, author of Colorado Drift for writing this blog. In a conversation between two writers who are discussing Writer’s Block, one writer realizes how they have to change. One writer is a “plotter” (someone who outlines and organizes their manuscript before/during the writing process) and the other writer is a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants). Both paths work, but sometimes, you need to change your process for a certain manuscript in order to get past a block.

 

Wow, so you’re a writer huh?

Yep.

I’m writing too, but I’m in a funk.

Yeah, why’s that?

I’m stuck. I’ve got Writer’s Block. So, you ever get blocked?

Nope.

Really, how do you keep from losing your train of thought?

I prepare.

What do you mean? How do you prepare?

Well, first I do a shovel full of research on my topic.

So, you research everything?

Not quite everything, but most of the story’s plot.

Then what do you do?

Well, I organize the research into an order that formulates into my plot.

Really?

Yep. Then I write an outline of the story with all the parts (research and ideas) flowing through my diagram. This way, I know where my story is going and what I have to write next. I can always adjust the outline if something doesn’t fit or if I come up with a brilliant idea.

And this works for you?

Yep.

Would it work for me, too?

Yep, but you have to be disciplined and do the research, organize your thoughts, and outline your plot.

It sounds like a lot of work.

It is, but it keeps my creative processes juiced and always flowing. Besides, how long have you had your Writer’s Block?

A couple of weeks now.

Well, in two weeks you could have done most or all of your research and developed an outline.

I see your point. I think I need to start doing a better job than just writing from the top of my head.

Good for you.

 

We all get stuck once in a while. Here are a few things you can try to help yourself get out of Writer’s Block.

  1. Get away from your story. Find a hobby and relax. Avoid thinking about your manuscript. As your body relaxes, your brain will, too, and it will naturally figure out the problem you are having with the plot—if that’s the reason you’re stuck and getting Writer’s Block.
  2. Set up a writing routine and do it every day, 6 days a week. Structure will help form positive habits that lead to positive creativity.
  3. Work on your research. A new idea could strike. Changing your process techniques could help the flow of ideas.
  4. Talk your problem out with a writing buddy or an editor. They may be helpful in getting you to the root of the problem.
  5. Go on vacation. Take a few days and do something you’ve never done before or go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Get away from the stresses of everyday life for a few days. This could help your creative process because you’ll be experiencing different emotions through your new experiences.
  6. Laugh. Spend some time with someone who makes you laugh. Laughter will help release tension.
  7. Pamper yourself: see a massage therapist, get a manicure or hair cut, or go to a spa. While you’re focused on yourself, your body will naturally relax and you’ll be able to figure out the problem.

 

New Release - Colorado Drift by D.A. Kori Prier

 

D.A. Kori Prier was born and grew up in the two-mile high town of Leadville, Colorado. Now retired, he lives in Northern California with his wife, Snuz. Colorado Drift is the first book of a new series. Mr. Prier’s extensive knowledge of the mountainous geography lends credibility to the story and makes the adventure feel real and possible. Kori and Snuz enjoy traveling with their three four-legged girls: Becca, Tessa, and Bella.

 

Colorado Drift takes the reader on a snowy, modernistic science fiction adventure inside a Rocky Mountain avalanche.

 

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends who may find it useful. Thank you!

 

 

The Force Behind Writing Groups by Bruce Kirkpatrick

A few tips from Bruce Kirkpatrick on being a member of a writer’s group.

I’m a member of four groups and each works differently. Here’s what I’ve learned about writer’s groups and if you are a writer, why you may want be a part of one.

Both new and seasoned writers are often members of writer’s groups. No hard and fast rules exist about how they work, but a few tips to get the most out of them might help.

Groups can meet in person or online. They can require that members trade “chapters” or work beforehand—or not. They can read aloud or simply offer critique in the written form. They can be full of published authors or those just getting started.

 

  1. If you attend a meeting, it forces you to write. No better way to get to work than to have somebody ready to read it.  One of the groups I’m involved with has over 270 members, but only 10 to 15 come to meetings regularly and read. Those are the more serious writers.
  2. It forces you to edit. Nobody wants to read work that is weak. By the time I read something in front of the group, I’ve edited it at least several times. That makes for better writing.
  3. It forces you, in many cases, to read your work out loud. That’s a key to better structure, phrasing, and dialogue. If your group doesn’t read aloud, you can always incorporate that into your editing practice.
  4. Groups force you to toughen up. Most groups offer sound criticism, delivered in a positive manner. One of my groups start the critique with what we liked, then move to how the writing could be better. It can always be better. You need to hear that, continually.
  5. They force you to meet and work with other writers. Writing can be a lonely passion but there is enlightenment in numbers. You’ll pick up great tips, habits, and skills working with like individuals. You may even use the group to connect you to others in the profession that can push your career forward. It’s a great place to network.
  6. Writing groups will force you to be a better writer. If you stay connected, and keep writing, your work will improve. You may not be the next Hemingway, but it’s a start.

 

That said, in my experience, writing groups have little knowledge about getting published. They are all about the writing. My groups don’t include many published authors, so the how-to-write-for-publication is a glaring hole. Most writers will do better reading the books about writing—Stein, Gorkin, Browne & King, George—than trusting inexperienced writers.

But you have to start someplace and a writing group will force you to write, edit, and receive feedback. If you’re a beginning writer or want to write for your own pleasure, it’s a good place to start.

 

Bruce Kirkpatrick is the author of Hard Left and Lumberjack Jesus. He is currently working on several different writing projects. To learn more about Bruce and his books, you can visit: http://www.bkirkpatrick.com/about/

 

At Written Dreams, we believe writers who take part of writer’s groups can be very successful. We will often suggest joining the local chapters to new writers because we believe in the benefits. Here in Green Bay, WI, we’re lucky to have a few groups that meet locally. If you’re looking for a writer’s group in your area, here’s a few associations you can start your search with, depending on the genre you write in: RWA-Romance Writers of America, HWA-Horror Writers of America, SFWA-Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America, CWG-The Children’s Writer’s Guild, NAMW-National Association of Memoir Writers, and many more!

Reviewing Your First Draft: WD’s Manuscript Separation Process

It’s easy to get excited after you’ve written your first draft. We know you want to show it to the world. But don’t! Please don’t. Here’s an easy process to remember to make your manuscript the best it can be—before showing even one word to your closest friend, or gasp,  to an editor. We believe this process is time well spent. Read on to learn more about our Manuscript Separation process.
1) If you haven’t started writing your first book and your reading this blog, that’s okay. a) Do as much research as you need to start writing Manuscript 1. b) Begin writing 200-1000 words a day, 6 days a week until you reach the desired story length. (90,000 words is the length of a typical fiction book.)
2) Writing the first draft can be frustrating. Enjoy the process. No matter if it takes you 30 days or 30 months, this is the first draft of Manuscript 1. Ever. Make it whatever you want it to be. Take your time and add as much of the story as you can during this process.
Note: If you get stuck or have writer’s block, no worries.  Relax and unwind. Do some more research on your topic, or get inspired by attending a local writer’s group meeting. Writers are helpful, unselfish people and most want to see their peers succeed.
2) You’ve finished writing your first draft. Congratulations! Now, here’s the most important step in your manuscript process. Put it aside and don’t touch it for 3 months—that’s 90 days of not looking at one word, not even the title. I know, I know. It’s finished, and you want to tweak every last word. Why? Because you can. Revising it now at this stage of the process would be a crucial mistake and could be hazardous to the manuscript. Wait 3 months before reviewing this first draft. Waiting can be tough, but this is very important. Plan a vacation, start a new hobby, outline a new story. Do anything but read Manuscript 1.
Note: If you do think of an idea to add to the manuscript during your time away, write it down in a journal with the date on it (or the day in the process, like Day 25 of 90) so you don’t forget the inspirational idea that could fix that plot hole or character flaw.
3) Day 91: You’re ready to review your manuscript. You’ve been a good writer and haven’t peeked. That’s wonderful! Now, check that journal for any notes to refresh your memory and start reading.
Note: More revisions are typically made on Chapter One than any other chapter. Don’t have a favorite. Spend equal amounts of time on every chapter. I know some are more needy than others and require more attention. Just be aware that you’re not spending all of your time with just one chapter. Remember to add details for characters, like oh I don’t know, them wearing clothing and having skin color, eye color, hair color, etc., so your characters are not running around invisible and naked. LOL! 🙂
4) You’ve finished the second draft. Writer, what are you going to do next? No, (shaking head) not send it to an editor. Wrong answer. Go to Disney World? Maybe. The one thing you need to do: put Draft 2 aside for 2 short months. 60 days, that’s all. You can do it!
Note: During your off time of Manuscript 1, you could begin research on Manuscript 2.
5) Day 61: Review draft day. As you go through the manuscript this time, you’ll see plot holes or character flaws more easily. During this review, you’ll probably spend more time on specific scenes in the story, making sure the story arc is what it needs to be and making the characters live and breathe. When you’ve fixed those plot holes, you’re ready for the next step.
Note: Getting distance away from Manuscript 1 is very important and allows for you to have “Fresh Eyes” on your manuscript. Some writers say they don’t even remember writing some of the things in their manuscript while reviewing.
6) Next step. Put Draft 3 away for 1 month before reviewing it. Easy peasy. The time will go quickly.
Note: During this month off from Manuscript 1, write 5 diary entries your main character would write. If, after you write these entries you discover more about your character’s flaws and characteristics, be sure to write them down in your journal and include them when you begin your next review.
7) Day 31: Review Day of Draft 4.  Take your time with this review, be critical and watch for minor typos and grammatical errors that may have popped up during the revision process. Add any details about your character that you may have missed before, but don’t spend a lot of time on changing scenes/character revisions. This review is meant to be more of a proof, than a rewrite. A rewrite at this point shouldn’t be needed. After this review you should have a clean manuscript.
Note: If you’re fully satisfied with your manuscript at this point, that’s great! If not, take another month away from it and do more revisions. If you’re really stuck, do one of two things: a) join a writer’s critique group and ask for suggestions, or b) set up a time to talk with one of us at Written Dreams and we can put you in contact with a professional to help you.
8) Submission time? Your manuscript has been fully revised, it’s typo free and full of fun details about your characters and the adventure they embark upon. You’re excited and ready to submit to an editor, but first, should you have someone else read it? That depends. If this is truly your first manuscript and you know other writers, you could ask a few willing beta readers. Many pros do this, and it’s not a bad idea at all.
Note: If you do send your manuscript to beta readers keep in mind that you may end up doing more revisions. Remember to take time away from Manuscript 1 after any revision process, a minimum of 30 days after revising any scenes.
8) Submission time: sending Manuscript 1 to an editor. Request their submission guidelines and format your manuscript in their suggested format. Then, off it goes!
Note: You will worry. We know. Remember that editors read manuscripts for a living and that Manuscript 1 isn’t the only one they have on their schedule. After you send your manuscript out, write down the date sent, and then start a new project. Check in with the editor after 6-9 weeks have passed to check on the status of your manuscript.
Good luck! We hope this article helped you. This a suggestion for a process that we’ve seen work for many authors. Ultimately, you need to decide what process works best for you. If you have any questions, you may contact us through our contact page on our website. Check out our store at writtendreams.com/store for some great reads by other authors!

Writer Tip: Every emotion counts!

Characterization

Help readers empathize with your main character by giving them real situations that they can feel real emotions in, just like in life. In your novel, your main character should go through every emotion at least once: angry, frustrated, anxious, excited, sad, exhilarated, concerned, and terrified. When you’re thinking about these scenes, think about moments in your life when you felt this way. First, write down what you were doing when you felt that way. Next, write your story from the heart! Your readers will know it. 

Copyright 2012 by Sabrena R. Koren