Cure Writer’s Block with the Drastic

1 08 2013

Suffering from writer’s block is all part and parcel of the business. One day the words flow too fast for you to type or jot in your own gibberish. One day you see the layout ahead of you and are watching the possibilities play out. Then there are days when you draw such a complete blank you are sure you must be as talentless as you always, secretly, thought. Let’s put aside our damaging thoughts and try something drastic. I am going to ask you to attempt the impossible, do the unthinkable, and… well, it really is not as bad as that gasp you are prepared to release.

What genre are you partial too? What reality is your book born from? Put it all aside and choose a different view. Writing a love story? Try writing your main character/s into a mystery. Flying through fictional history? Take those same characters and place them in the world of science fiction. Writing for adults? Transform your characters into a child’s world. You are not looking at a rewrite, simply expanding your views to other possibilities should the circumstance change. Imagine your characters in another situation, another place, another reality. Play around with their environment and allow yourself to laugh at any absurdities.

Giving your characters a situation completely different from the direction in which the story is intended can release your mind from its current rut and open ideas previously unconsidered. Ever been in a conversation that feels more like a bee zipping from flower to flower vs the bird building a solid nest? You start with one subject, but one word, one joke, one minor detail sends your discussion down a side road. This can happen so quickly and so often you may have found yourself trying to remember how you started out talking about your work situation and how will you ever make your boss see sense to talking about the impossibility of eating brownies without sighing. Don’t laugh, I am sure we have all been there at least once. Suddenly, in the middle of discussing the oddities of the color cerulean the answer to your problem hits you.

Writer’s block is (among other things) the inability to see the way forward logically and smoothly. Since you think you are only sitting in front of a brick wall with no way through, over, or around try changing direction and only then can you see the passage that is hidden from direct view (David Bowe in the Labyrinth a must see!worm).

 

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Lies of the Unpublished Writer

17 05 2013

Writers tend to be creative in many areas of life, so it’s no surprise that we can get creative with the truth. Or, as my mother said, “You lie a lot.” This is especially tempting when we are debating why we aren’t published. Before I was a published author, I embraced a few cherished lies because they blunted the pain of rejection. But the road to publication required discarding these lies and facing reality. Here are five lies I believed before I was published:

1. THE RULES DON’T APPLY TO ME.editing

I write amazing first drafts. If there were a contest for first drafts, mine would win every time. So I told myself, “Writing is not rewriting.” Other people might have to do multiple drafts, but my first drafts are so solid I could publish them as-is. For years I believed this.

One day I did three drafts of an article, and it became my first published article. A solid first draft is not good enough to be published. All those “rules of writing” that you read in Writer’s Digest, on blogs, and in creative writings classes are rules because they are true most of the time. So if there are some rules that you think don’t apply to you, think again. It might be the rule preventing you from getting published.

2. AGENTS AND EDITORS HAVE IT IN FOR ME.

Ah, those blood-sucking agents and editors. I’m pretty sure they have meetings in a secret underground lair where they talk about how jealous they are of my writing skills and how they should team up to keep me from being published.

This is a lie that is so prevalent among unpublished writers that editors and agents have to go to psychologists so they can feel good about themselves again. I know one editor who calls herself “Dream Crusher” to assuage her pain. Here’s the truth: Editors and agents desperately want you to be good enough. They make a living by writers being publishable. If you’re getting rejected it’s because you still have work to do. either as a writer or as a marketer.

3. I’M NOT A MARKETER, I’M A WRITER!

Which is exactly why you aren’t published yet. You have to do the hard work of writing a spectacular query and proposal. Notice that you have to “write” the query and proposal. You’re not being asked to do an interpretive dance or draft blueprints to a rocket ship. It might not be your style, and it might be hard work, but being a published author is hard work, complete with e-mails you don’t want to answer, deadlines, accounting and marketing!

Matt Mikalatos








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