Writer’s Block?

Imagine yourself with a clean sheet of paper in front of you. You have to write a short story about something, but no matter how long you stare at that crisp white piece of paper you have nothing. Zip. Ziltch. Not one word comes to mind.  What do you do? How do you get over the initial panic that comes with every new moment that a story won’t come to mind? You could throw your computer out the window and swear off writing, or maybe just get comfortable with yourself and do some brainstorming.

This morning, I met with several fellow writers and we talked about brainstorming and the techniques we each use to get or mojo flowing.  It was interesting that each of the five people had their own unique way to brainstorm.  Therefore, you too should look at each of these as an idea for you to mull over and in the end come up with a formula that works for you.

  • Look for intense moments from your life (or someone else’s): This can be a tough one depending on the situation. Some events in life are better left in the past, but some of them can make for a great scene, short story, or book.
  • Ask questions: Get out a sheet of paper and a pencil. I like pencils because they seem to be more connected with the paper. Plus, pens are too permanent – you can erase pencil. Getting back to your paper…. When a question pops into your mind write it down. Don’t take the time to answer it, yet. Keep writing them down until your mind feels empty of them. Now, go back and answer them.
  • Play with your attractions: What sort of things attract you? Do you love wine, bookstores, plants, hiking, rock climbing, or knitting? Any one of these are potential subjects.
  • Use pre-printed idea cards: Let’s say you are listening to the news and you hear a n odd story that you think would be interesting to write about. Jot it down on a note pad or an index card. These will become your idea cards.
  • Online themes: there are plenty of websites and social media that provide writing prompts, contests, and games. Writers Digest, Penguin Random House, and Creative Writing Prompts are just a few that I use when I’m stuck.
  • Word dumps: sit down and just write nonsense words. Keep writing them until you feel the flood gates open. Put them on index cards. This turns your word dumps into idea cards.

One of the keys to be successful in these exercises is to stay away from your computer. Handwritten words are powerful. There is a connection between your hand and your brain that isn’t present between the computer and your brain. According to an article in Time, “… creative people have greater connectivity between these brain networks that tend to work in opposition in most people. This messiness of creativity at the neurological level mirrors its real-life complexity.”

Creative minds like a little bit of disorganization. Handwriting is one way to provide it. Scribbling up the margins, scratching out mistakes, flipping the page over to write upside-down all contribute to a wonderfully, messy, creative mind. Next time you’re stumped for words, grab a piece of paper, napkin, or the palm of your hand and start writing. Your mind will do the rest.

Y is for YOY? (Why Oh Why?)

Tonight I am asking myself, Why oh why did I wait until 10:00 at night to write this post?” I could have pre-written it, put up it on the scheduler, and had it automatically post today. But did I do that? No. So, here I am, 10:00 at night (yes I know, that’s not late to most people) writing my ‘Y’ post for the A to Z blog Challenge.

Why did I wait? I blame it all on the Pikes Peak Writer’s 2018 Conference – #PPWC2018. What an awesome event. Pikes Peak Writers hosts an annual conference where they bring a few hundred writers together, throw them in a hotel for three days with authors, publishers, editors, and agents who teach all these writers an amazing amount of writerly things.

I have come to PPWC for the past four years and love it. I have not only gained a wealth of knowledge from the facilitators, but I have made some lasting friendship as well. Each year I leave PPWC with my mouth hanging open and my brain bursting from all of the amazing things I have learned. WOW.

This year, I was not disappointed. Just to list a few classes I attended:

  • Perfect Placement – Debbie Maxwell talked about where to put the power words. When power words are at the end of a sentence, scene, or paragraph this compels your reader to keep reading.
  • Busting the Block – MB Partlow guided us through ways to overcome writers block. My favorite ideas were to have one of your characters pull out a gun. Even if that action isn’t relative to the story that’s ok. It is an excersises to get the creative juices going again.
  • WordPress for Writers – Kristy Ferrin took us, step by step, through the process of setting up WP. Even though I have been on WP for several years, I finally found out how to use some of those “things” (like what the heck is a plug-in?).

Over the course of three days there are over 60 workshops to choose from, panels, queries, critiques. Then there is always Write Drunk, Edit Sober. This prompt driven writing session is very popular too.

So, here I am, sitting on my bed in a hotel room, computer in my lap, and I’m no longer wondering Y-O-Y did I wait to write this post? I’m glad I did. I’m glad I could share just a little bit of this wonderful weekend with you. Next year, you all will be here too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post inspired by – Y

Z is for Zoo

X is for X Words

We are getting down to the last letters of the A to Z Blog Challenge. Through the challenge I have been writing daily about the Isle of Man where my book, The Manx, takes place.  Besides all the wonderful characters and the folktales, I also included posts about visiting the island and some of the basics about the Isle of Man.

Now we come to the letter X. In my 1932 edition of 20,000 Words there are only three words listed that start with X: Xanthippe, xenon, xylophone. None of these really relate to my book so I have been at a loss as to how to make X work for the A to Z Challenge.

Next out is Roget’s International Thesaurus, 4th Edition, 1977. There are a few more words listed which are: X (as in a cross), Xanadu (remember that movie?), xenophobia, xerography, Xerox, X Ray, xylography, and xylophone.

An X is also seen as a symbol like a railroad crossing, a mathematical symbol, and a signature. Love letters are signed with an XO for kiss and hug, or XXXOOO for lots of kisses and hugs.

The X is Gebo (Gifts) in Futhark Runes. The gift as in the sense of both generosity and sacrifice indicating balance and all things relating to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships and partnerships.

Why is the X always pronounced like a Z? Why have the X at all? Just turn all the X-words to Z-words. Except, if that was done than an X-Ray would become a Z-Ray and then you have a weapon that shoots death rays rather than a camera that shoots death rays. Wait…..what? Yeah. That’s what goes on sometimes with my grey matter. It gets a little weird up there.

Have an X-cellent weekend!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post inspired by – X

J is for Jabot

I have really enjoyed doing the A to Z Blog Challenge so far. It has been fun, up until the letter ‘J’. I have been wracking my brain trying to think of a J-something to write about as it might relate to the Isle of Man or The Manx, but no. My mind has been a blank on this letter (I’m having trouble with ‘Y’ too).

For brain food I cracked open my 1934 edition of 20,000 Words (this is a second edition published by The Gregg Publishing Company). Turning to the letter J I found the first word listed, JABOT. I have never heard this word before so the next step was to break out my dictionary. This book is a more modern version called, “the internet”.

The word originates from the French word jabot: a bird’s crop. What is a jabot, you ask? Wiktionary defines it as, “…is a decorative clothing accessory consisting of lace or other fabric falling from the throat, suspended from or attached to a neckband or collar; or simply pinned at the throat.”

Here is a picture of Mozart wearing one.

Is a jabot relevant to my book? Not specifically, but I think I may just throw the word in there somewhere just because it is a great word. I will leave it to you, my reading friends, to find it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s post was inspired by — J (and the French)

K is for Kaitlin

G is for Geography

It’s time to talk geography. I have mentioned Isle of Man in previous posts, and told you how small it really is (221 square miles, in case you missed that post). Today I want to tell about the actual island and its geography makeup. This will not by your typical “this is this, and that is that” kind of post. I hated geography in school so I won’t make this tedious for you.

But, I do have to give you a few quick facts:

  • It is in the middle of the Irish Sea
  • Its highest point is Mt. Snaefell at 2,036 feet
  • Most of the coastline is rocky
  • It is treeless except in a few areas that are sheltered from the climate
  • Ramsey is a large northern town (population close to 8,000)
  • Douglas is the capital (Population 27,000+)
  • The southern most tip you’ll find Calf of Man

So, there are your facts about the Isle of Man. Now let’s take a look of some of the fun stuff like, the Drinking Dragon. At the southern tip is this wonderful rock formation that looks like a dragon dipping its nose in the sea for a sip of water.

Another fun feature of the island is Mt. Snaefell. This peak is lower than my house (I’m at 6,000 feet here in Colorado), and is not too exciting to look at.

There is an old building on top along with a radio tower. Even though it is wind blown and cloudy most of the time, if you go to the top on a clear day they say you can see six kingdoms: Isle of Man, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Heaven. Now that’s cool.

The last place we’ll visit is St. Patrick’s Isle. This small tidal island is mostly occupied by Peel Castle. This castle is where my characters, Donal and Kaitlin, will meet their first buggane, along with meeting the Witch of Slieu Whallian.

 The castle was originally a worship center until the Vikings arrived in the 11th century. It was fully constructed by King Magnus (aka Magnus Barefoot, and another in the cast of The Manx). According to legends he built this as his summer getaway. More likely this was a perfect staging area to conquer large portions of the coastal areas of the Irish Sea.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Isle of Man. Although small in size, the island is large in interesting landscapes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post inspire by – G

Rain on Your Writing?

It wasn’t too long ago that my life made an unexpected left turn, the wrong way, down a one way street. It started a few years ago and, today, there are vestiges of life’s crap still creeping around in the background. I won’t go into the grim details here, but trust me when I say, “It really, really, really sucked.” Life was dumping a torrential downpour on me, and my writing.

Shortly before everything went off track, I had started to write seriously. My mind was filled with stories that needed to be told. I went to writer’s conferences to learn the nuts and bolts of the writing business, and, furiously, I got to work. Then the sky opened up. I was sent awash down an overflowing river without a paddle (and I fell out of the boat a few times too).

What is a writer to do when they get hit by life’s “little” floods? How do you drag yourself through the quagmire to get back into writing? My biggest suggestion; don’t stop in the first place. Unless you are comatose, there isn’t a reason not to write. At some point my creative juices shriveled up into a grey clump of rotten raisins. I couldn’t think a thought that ran in a straight line. They jumped from one anxiety attack to another. Writing? HA! Sometimes I could only write a paragraph. Sometimes just a few stray thoughts. No matter what, I wrote something.

If you are trying to navigate through one of your life’s rainstorms here are a few suggestions to keep going:

  • Write as much as you can manage.
  • Attend your critique group whether you have written anything or not.
  • Stay in touch with your writing friends (and friends at large).
  • Attend writer’s conferences – (I’ll be at, PPWC2018, and RMFW2018 – I hope to teach a class at the latter of the two).
  • Write about your struggles. It is cheaper than a therapist! *grins*
  • Visit your therapist – they are amazing.

DON’T QUIT! There will be days that you sit at your computer and think, “I’m a fraud! I can’t do this! I quit!” After a brief pity party, get back at it, one word at a time. The flood waters will recede. You will once again be on a safe shore to write how you were meant to; BEAUTIFULLY.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post is inspired by Insecure Writer’s Group’s April 4th question: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

The awesome co-hosts for the April 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim,Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s a blog hop too! 

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

 

Let’s Celebrate!

This post has been inspired by March’s question of the month from Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The question: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

Writing can be a lonely business, and when there is a chance to celebrate – WE DO! If you are a writer it is important to take care of yourself with a little bit of fun between the lines. (Did you catch that?) So, when that scene that has taken months to perfect finally comes together then it is a good time to treat yourself to a massage, a walk in the park, or a simple fist pump. Smile! You did it!

I tend to take my celebrations on the quiet side. I spend a lot of time perfecting things. I also spend too much time doing research. So, when I actually get a scene complete, or a short story with The End attached, I usually let out a huge sigh and lay my head on the desk. When I finished my great grandfather’s manuscript I remember how tired I was. To celebrate I took a nap. When I finished The Jockey I went to bed. (I think I see a trend here). It takes quite a bit of brain energy for me to get a story on paper, so I celebrate the only way I can…power naps!

~~~~~~~~~~

#IWSG’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard,Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge