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Archive for the ‘Writer’s Block’ Category

Hello, my name is Melissa and I’m a procrastinator.

Yes, it’s that dreaded nightmare that holds people back from continuing their plans (or even getting started on something). I admit that I can be a really bad procrastinator. Back in school, if I could put something off, I would usually do it. I always liked to think I just got distracted really easily (which I do, trust me), but I can’t put all of the blame on that.  Sometimes, it’s not distractions that hold me back. It’s not having the drive to do it or putting it off to the side so I can “Finish it later.” We all know that never really happens.

Have I been procrastinating finishing my book? Yes. Have I been doing anything about that? No.

A part of it is definitely fear. Fear of what’s next after that last word is written. After the editing is completed and the book is ready to find a publishing home.  Self-publishing or not? If I do go self-pub, how am I going to do it? How in the hell am I going to afford it? Those questions race through my mind and makes the procrastination monster rear it’s ugly head.

Tomorrow, I’m making an effort to try and write more. It’s important to get this finished even when I don’t know what I’m doing afterwards. I have to worry about that after I’m finished. Not right now.

I also plan on blogging on here more. I’ve been so busy trying to make jewelry and hair accessories to put in my etsy shop so I can save up money to actually publish my book.  I’m still not seeing much success, but I guess it’s all about patience, right?  If you want to read all about my jewelry and hair accessory making, you should check out my new blog which talks all about that. 🙂  I also have one that I started on blogspot for all of you on that site to follow. I’m probably going to make the switch to that one soon.

I’ll leave you with this flower headband I just made that’s in my etsy shop.

Cute, yeah?

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about my views on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. Stay tuned!

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These past few weeks, I have made great progress with the current w.i.p. I think I average about 2000-4000 words a day (and I do try to write every day). It’s surprised a lot of people and they wonder how I do it. I’m not sure I know how to explain it, but I just write when I feel like it. I don’t force myself to write. If it happens, it happens.

But, sometimes when you least expect it….. you hit the wall. There could be various reasons for it: writer’s block, illness, other obligations that you try to get out of but can’t. I always tell people not to bother me when I’m writing unless they’re bleeding profusely or something (morbid probably..).  You try to avoid these things, but sometimes they show up anyways.

So, yesterday, it happened. I woke up feeling like crap. That’s right, those awful flu-like symptoms were starting to rear their ugly little heads which brought upon the wall.  It felt like brick.  There was no way I was going to get any writing done  yesterday and that sucked. But what can you do when you feel like hell ran over you several times with a huge truck? Nothing but gulp down as much Vitamin C as you can and get the rest that you need.

Today, I feel a little better. The wall isn’t as impenetrable as it was yesterday. I don’t think I’ll do much writing but I’ll probably plot out the sequel to this w.i.p. Hopefully, people like the first book enough to read the sequel but we’ll worry about that later…. way later. 🙂

So if you hit the wall, relax. Take a breather and it’ll get back to you.

I really should hire a personal masseuse though… that would be handy.

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A year ago, I made a post about my love/hate feelings for writer’s reference books. That subject has been on my mind lately. I was straightening up some of my books and found a couple of those reference books which brought that certain post to mind.

Those kinds of books can be helpful, don’t get me wrong. I’ve read a couple that really got me through some of that dreaded writer’s block. One of them that I am quite fond of is Write: 10 Days To Overcome Writer’s Block. Period. by Karen E. Peterson. She’s a therapist so instead of Fight vs. Flight, she talks about Write Vs. Flight. Are we going to be in write mode today or are we going to be in “flight” mode and hide from those writing duties? It’s an interesting book and it really helps me get focused when I need it.

There have been some books that actually made me more paranoid of my own writing style than it helped. Those are the books that say you should write a certain way and make your dialogue this way, etc. Oh and make sure your characters are like this and not like that…blah, blah, blah. I don’t find those books helpful. Not at all. Personally, I think the beauty of writing is that we all shouldn’t sound the same way. How boring would that be to read a book that sounds almost exactly like another book by a different author? Yeah, my characters aren’t perfect (no character should be). Okay, maybe my dialogue or narrative isn’t like they say it is in the books, but I’m okay with that.

I appreciate that the writers of those reference books are trying to do. They’re trying to help aspiring writers to be better, but when some of those books say “you have to make sure it’s this way or your book will fail.” (okay, I may be paraphrasing just a bit there..), I tend to not finish that book. Let me write my book my way and I’ll get it published. You just wait.

So if you become discouraged by something you read in one of those books, well, don’t. You should write your book how you want to. It’s your story, not theirs. Be strong enough to be different. Don’t write a story to sound like another just because that one became popular. Take what you learn from those books and make it to better your writing and not change it completely.

Yes, one of my biggest pet peeves is someone telling me how my writing should sound. I know what my writer’s voice sounds like and I prefer to keep it that way. Otherwise, I’d be pulling out my hair… and I really do like my hair. Except for today. Today, it just looks a mess. Bad hair days ftw.

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Some of you may know that this past year, I went through major writer’s block. Due to some person family emergencies, I found myself seriously affected and couldn’t write. Several months would go by and I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even get myself to even think about writing.

So what happened? I started listening to the doubts. You know, those little thoughts that get inside your head and make you doubt everything you do? Yeah, those pesky things. What do they “say” exactly? Here’s a few examples:

“You’ll never make it as a writer anyways.”
“Why even bother? You’re not good enough”
“You’ll never be successful.”
“This story sucks.”
“You aren’t a writer. You’ll never be a writer.”

Let’s just say, those doubts can be pretty mean sometimes. In the past, when those doubts came into my mind, I was able to just shrug them off and keep writing. But, this past year, certain situations left me emotionally vulnerable and exhausted. I couldn’t fight them off. I felt like I couldn’t at that time.

A couple of months ago was the time where I realized that it was time for me to get back into it. I had to dust myself off and tell my characters stories. They needed me for that. Their story couldn’t continue without me. My dream of being a published author couldn’t be shattered just because some nasty doubts crept into my head.

Lately, I’ve been doing really well. I’ve been averaging about 2,000 words a day and I do write every day now. Yesterday, I made it to 4,000 words which was a great accomplishment for me. Just a few short months ago, I wasn’t writing any, so to go from that to around 4k is pretty amazing.

If you find yourself  yourself in a situation where the doubts are taking over, take a step back and collect yourself.  Think of why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.  Think about the story you are writing and why you wanted to write it in the first place.  Don’t let those doubts take over.  Think positive and keep moving.  Anyone can make it if they try hard enough.

I am opening up my blog to anyone interested in writing a guest post here.  It can be anything writing or reading related, so if you’re up for it, either comment on this post or send me an e-mail at thestoryinme@gmail.com

Also, my “Interview With The Character” blog fest is next Friday and we need more participants! All you have to do is conduct an interview with a character in a story you are working on (or planning on working on). Ask them questions and then answer them as that character. It really is a lot of fun and helps you get to know your characters. Post that interview on your blog with a link to this one. On that day, stop by this blog and check out the post I’ll make with the links of everyone who is participating (and read my character interview, of course…). You can sign up by commenting below or send me an e-mail at thestoryinme@gmail.com with your name and blog link. 🙂

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I’ve been asked a few times if I have a writing schedule. The answer is always the same. No. I understand that some people love having a strict schedule because it keeps thing organized and ready to go. For me, it just never works out. When I feel like I HAVE to write at a certain time, I freeze up and start to procrastinate (one of those nasty writing killers, remember?). Then, no words will come out and I have made no progress whatsoever. So I gave up my writing schedule and went for a more relaxed approach.

And it worked. A lot.

Here’s what I do. When I wake up in the morning, I sit down and write down my goals for the day, concerning my writing. I write down what task I want to achieve (whether it be starting or finishing a chapter, hitting a certain word count, or even doing some writing research..) and how long I want to do that task for. I work best when I work in small intervals. I have an anxiety disorder so I tend to get pretty anxious if I sit in one spot for too long. So, I’ll usually work on the task for 15-30 minutes and then do something else for awhile. If I feel like I can do more, then I will. I never force myself to write. Nothing good ever comes from that.

What happens after you accomplish a certain task? I usually try to “reward” myself afterwards. Maybe I’ll watch some television for a bit or get some ice cream.  It could be some quality reading time with another good book. It usually varies, but it should always feel rewarding in some way.  It’s a nice treat for making progress.

I feel like if I write down my daily goals each day, it’s there for me to see and think: “okay, I can do this. Not a problem.” If it doesn’t happen, I don’t beat myself up over it. I encounter writers all the time on Twitter who berate themselves for not writing or not making a certain goal. Take a step back and breathe. Writing isn’t as easy as people think it is. It’s a long process and there will be days when you either can’t or don’t feel like writing. And that’s okay. Trust me.

There’s a quote in a writers reference book that I like to read when I feel writer’s block hitting me. It goes:

“Finish each day and be done with it…. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in… Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

That quote keeps me going. It tells me to go day by day. Don’t worry about the editing or publishing issues just yet. Work on the book for that day and if you don’t, it’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day and a new start.

 

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It happens all too often. Writers get great ideas for new stories, start on their projects and then find themselves faced with a killer. Something that stands in their way and tries to destroy any sort of creativity we have.

Writing killers. I’m sure you’ve met at least one writer who has experienced such a tragedy. Maybe you have encountered it yourself. I know I have. Several times. Where’s the writing police when you need them??

Here are some of the writing killers you may find yourself defending your story from:

  • Procrastination (The whole “I’ll do it later” excuse)
  • Laziness (“I don’t feel like doing it right now. “)
  • Hectic Schedule (“I don’t have time to do it right now.”)
  • Lack of confidence (“I’m not talented enough for people to read this anyways.”)
  • Lack of organization (“I have no idea where I’m even at in this story”)

Of course, there are lots more, but those are the most common that I hear from. Remember, my friend from the other day who had an idea for a story but could only think of the beginning and the end? Once I gave him some advice to help him get the middle, it seemed like he pretty much threw up his hands and threw in the towel before he even got started. The lack of confidence killed his writing spirit.

Personally, I encounter most of what I listed. I am a horrible procrastinator. Sometimes I put things off for later especially when it comes to my writing. Granted, at times, my lack of confidence in my writing abilities causes this procrastination. There are times when I get those nagging thoughts of  “who would read this anyways?” “What if I’m not good enough?” How do I deal with this?  I take a step back and take a few deep breaths. You have to realize that you can’t compare yourself to other writers. That will get you nowhere. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by your own project, embrace it. Surround yourself with encouraging writers who also want you to succeed.

That’s all you can do. That is until we can actually find that writing police to arrest those writing killers.  Let’s work on that, shall we? 🙂

What sort of writing killers have you experienced? How did you get over it? Discuss it in the comments.

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I’m preparing for a three day trip to St. Louis on Tuesday, so I’ll admit writing hasn’t been on my mind.  One thing any writer has to learn that it’s okay to not have writing on your mind all day, every day. It’s okay to not be focused on it so much that it takes over your whole life. I used to think that’s how it had to be. I always thought that I had to be sitting in front of my laptop, typing away until my fingers bled (okay, not literally but you get the point, right?)

Ever since I hit my major writer’s block, I had to learn that it’s really okay to forgive yourself if you don’t write every day. Sometimes we all need a break from things. We need to clear our heads so we can get back to the stories.  I’ve had to put away the book I was working on last year and focus on a different story. Sometimes that’s what we have to do in order to keep going.  I’ve had to learn to tell myself that doing that is okay, too. I’m not a failure as a writer. I’m just taking my time instead of rushing the process.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit your word count or you’re not able to write at all. My college creative writing teacher told me (and the class, of course) that as long as you write one word (just one word) that you have made progress so it’s okay. If you start feeling the pressure, maybe it’s time to take a step back and breathe. Take a walk, take a break, clear your head. Take some time out for you so you can continue your story. Don’t let writer’s block get to you.

I’m not sure if a three day vacation will help me or not, but I guess we will see.

In other news, I’ve been looking through the poems I have written (I miss my poetry weekends I had on here..). I’ve been thinking about compiling a bunch and maybe putting out a book of poetry. Granted, I haven’t really written any poetry in quite a few months, but I think I have enough to put a book together.

I hope….

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