Friday, December 2, 2016

8 Ways to Break Writer's Block

You jump on the creative train and the passengers are missing. 
You check the first train car: conductor gone.

There's no one to help you but you. Happens to the new and veteran of the writing realm. What do you do? You don't know so here's what I do. It may not work for you. These are just ideas to get it going again.


1. Start on something you are not supposed to be doing. Or you are supposed to be doing but didn't want to do in the first place.

I'm very serious. When I worked, my creativity bugged the crap out of me when I was actually working on work, instead of working on drawing or writing. I can't explain it. Ask a neuropsychologist. Ask my neuroscience professor. She was amazing. It's like when you're not thinking about it, stressing that part of the brain, your brain can relax. It's like your brain had to go pee, but you're staring at it, waiting for it to happen. The brain can't go when you're creepy. So do something else and it'll be able to relieve itself.


1) Re-read your work! Get back into your story! Haven't written for a while? You might have to read your entire story to get the feel for it again. Sit down, pen 'n' paper close to you, and just read it. Don't focus on the errors, focus on the tone and plot. You need to understand your protagonist again and you need to see where you might have been going with the book.

If I'm stuck, I read the chapters that are huge in plot info. Like a plan that the characters are about to go through or a secret that hasn't been spilled yet. Jot it down so you remember when you start writing again. Need posties? Use them instead. Super Sticky Post-It notes are amazing to keep on the wall by your writing space.

2) Read someone else's work. I got the Longmire series handy because I love his active voice and simple sentences. I get into the mind of Sheriff Longmire and it's peaceful how he is attentive to detail but oblivious to people's romantic interest in him. He remembers what people wear or how they talk. Craig Johnson, author, keeps you in the mind of the sheriff by focusing his perspective in places with sharp prose. They're light reads for a reason. He's very good at getting the point across without sacrificing setting or inner drama. (You might have read elsewhere I love's not even my genre to love, yet here I am.)


1) I know this seems backwards, it's not. Write something you know you can keep writing about. Doesn't have to be your story. Example: I have three projects, two are fan fictions because they're fun, the other is my potential money-maker so that remains top priority. Go through your fun writings, ones you don't have to worry about getting wrong or beating a deadline, or whatever your case is. Write your fan fic, or write something that excites you, or just write about your feelings. Maybe dive into writing about your character's feelings. Free flow writing can really help break that block.

2) Write about writer's block. You'll be researching all the ways to break it, then you write about it, and you end up with an entire blog. (Oh look at that. I just did what I said. Ha!)


1) 30 minutes of working out helps blood flow and boosts your body and mind. Endorphins, anyone? Don't go killin' yourself on some hardcore workout though. You need you to be able to sit at your writing nest for the next couple hours. DO NOT EXHAUST YOURSELF.

2) Download the Charity Miles app on your phone then go for a walk. Walking is a nice way of getting fresh air and experiencing outside. You get to smell and feel the environment around you. Your brain will go elsewhere and maybe that triggers something to write about. Have Notes or a voice recorder app handy.

I learned a few days ago that Don Brown takes workout breaks to keep the blood flowing. He'll do push-ups by his desk, so if this is my advice to you, and a renowned author also does it, then it must be good!


1) Drive to a destination. I once drove to a different place to buy food because I wanted to experience a different ambiance. I went to an asian market and type in Notes everything I smelled and felt. These are things books can do but movies can't: get you to feel what the character feels. Some books are straight up cinematics. You don't want that. So get all your senses in gear and drive somewhere. Did you know walking downtown New York City smells like warm, poopy diapers? Those big crates you walk over on the sidewalk wafts up the sewage and that's what I smell. It's pleasant to me, but could be nasty to someone else. Write everything down!

2) Drive without a destination. Scenic routes and a quiet drive might help you unwind. I don't recommend the freeway; go some place where you don't have to look every three seconds to see if someone's gonna cut you off. Go rural if you can. Once you know you can't worry about anything, your mind opens up, and thinks freely.


1) Make a playlist for your book or character. Got specific scenes that go with some of the music? Play it. Over and over, if you want to. There's a rhythm for songs, there's rhythm for chapters.

2) Listen to your favorite tracks, instrumental or vocal. If it's your favorite, your brain will love it.


1) Caffeine. One cup of coffee is good for a mental boost.

2) Nutritious meals that incorporate carbs, protein, and vegetables in one fill your stomach, and helps you focus. Starving yourself starves the brain and makes you cranky. Don't do that. Eat something.

And if all else fails...


1) Chances are you're overloaded, burned out, or whatever you wanna call it. Take a day off and sleep on it. You can choose to just take a nap, or just not work on your book at all that day, take the time to relax, forget about the book, and then go to bed your normal time. Then in the morning (or when ever you write), you're refreshed, and good to go!

If this list isn't exactly what you're looking for, I suggest this: 6 Hacks to Motivate Writing.

Tell me what works for you even if it's not on this list. Have you found something that helps you break writer's block? I wanna know about it!

Cinder and the Mean Book Review of Blunt Truth

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I write. I'm an INTJ. My opinion will offend a lot of feelers out there who "loved" this book. But I can tell from the majority who 5-starred this that they do not have the capabilities of sorting cliches and predicting plot.

This series should be named the Linear Chronicles, as everything that should be been a twist, was a straight, and unchecked bore. There were no scenes to produce any care about the characters from the reader. Everything was as superficial as the glamour skill. While I pushed through to finish it, I should have thrown the book over the fence because everything I predicted that would happen, DID happen. My opinion that females do not make good comediennes reigns true especially in this book; if you're not funny, do not try to be funny. The attempt shows and it hurts your work. The author explains that if you want to publish a good book, you should have good beta readers. Obviously, she did not take her own advice, or she adopted a bunch of feeler fans who were too starstruck or sensitive about exposing the truth: this book sucks in many ways:

(1) Static, one-dimensional characters with little to no motivations or passions; (2) awfully predictable plot; (3) pitiful action scenes; (4) superfluous dialogue with static voices, and (5) repetitive descriptors. I saw she reused words--enough to turn it into a drinking game ("nails dug into his/her hand"--shot!).

For the storyline's brink of war there was zero urgency in the protagonist, and no blinding passion to move her to become a worthy hero. If the characters, even the minor antagonists, had any drive to put up plot barricades and ultimatums, then it would be easier to move through the chapters. Not even hook lines existed at the end of chapters, or none that were worthy. The author had PLENTY of opportunities to show gumption in the protagonist and she failed.

One chapter had me rolling my eyes so much when she had the opportunity to stay away from the stepmother. I could have written it where she had a new base of operations, so she had more impact at the big finale, where Cinderella's supposed to go to the ball. It was not there. Everything was so mediocre. I could not cry, I could barely laugh--I did not feel anything for any of these characters. Dr. Erland appealed to me most and there was lots of potential there. Dead and done. I will not be picking up another book because in the last chapter I just skipped through the prose, saw it was a poor sitcom hook so she could write more books, and I ended up saying, "That's it? Geez." Bottomline: everyone was just soooooo NICE. Even the antagonists. When there's a war, there is no nice. When there's an abusive family, it's far worse than what's in this book. Should've talked to a soldier, general, or even an abuse survivor to get a feel for what should have happened in the book.

If you crave intelligence, adventure, deep romance, and a good plot with lively characters, do NOT choose this book. Now I await the butthurt feely fans to comment on how mean I am when they have no clue who I am and what I do and why. If Meyer wishes to produce more work, she needs logical, honest people as beta readers who aren't afraid of hurting her feelings. She needed guidance and her support failed her.

Good job at the end of chapter 33. I enjoyed that at least.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 19, 2016

Write Drunk, Edit Sober - What Does It Really Mean?

Although Ernest Hemingway NEVER said this, I wanna live by it. And I'm two shots in. I will not get drunk, but loose. I don't condone nor condemn drinking. In moderation it helps even perfectionists like me to ease out of being such a frissy-frossy. (See? It's working. I'm making sh*t up.) 
There are studies suggesting one or two beers helps INSPIRE ideas, while coffee helps you FOCUS on these ideas. I'm in a chapter that needs to hurry up and finish so I can go back to action scenes, my easiest and more fun writing bits. Hence, the shots to help me unwind, and not fuss over how perfect the scene is. It's a complicated dialogue scene. Lots of information. Lots of stuff I need to just throw out there so when I go Revision mode, I can figure it out then. No biggie. 
Don't worry about your first draft. It's rough because it's for YOU. It's to tell you the story, then you can revise and figure out how it tells others the story. 

Keep writing!

What does "Write Drunk" mean and how did the false quote become so popular?

You could take it literally or less than but the quote simplifies the writer's take on finishing the book first. When you go through the rough draft, you must keep writing, and not care about all the errors, and potential hiccups in your research. Your usual inhibitions are put away when drunk so try to put them away when you're writing. 

What does "Edit Sober" mean?

Without mercy, revise, revise, revise. Remember how you tried correcting your mistakes when you realized what you did while you were drunk? Yeah. You're fixing those. The bad texts, the vocal're editing those out of your story. But only Edit Sober when you're DONE WITH YOUR BOOK. Not when you're done with the chapter. Unless you're a blogger. Then yes...please...edit your blog post with murderous enthusiasm.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New Location!

I moved about a month or two ago and I'm still getting settled into the new house. Forgive my absence. It's been a long trek. Currently re-reading my book because (1) my characters are mad at me and are giving me the silent treatment, and (2) the story isn't fresh in my mind.

When I come up with a helpful post for your writing, I will make it happen. But right now I need to help myself, and that's taking time. Thank you for understanding. I am still here! Just in a new place and time.

Here's another shot I took in my travels!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Still Here!

Moving takes a lot of time and work. Am still active and wanted to update you that we're still moving in to our new home and getting used to our location. Stick with me, okay-kay? Thanks! Here are some hints to where we moved:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Finding Your Story's Pace in 5 Steps

One of my big struggles is pace. This is posted more for both of us. I'm a facilitator, not a teacher. You can teach me too through your comments and there are lots of past comments that I loved reading! Thank you very much for your insight! We're all in this together. When we love what we do and are achieving our dreams, we build each other up, we don't tear down. Virtual hugs all around!

Now that gushy-mush is outta the way, time for some skill development!

How to Find your Pace

1. Find the Tone
2. Know the Why
3. Understand your characters
4. Know their goals
5. Pick the Environment


At Hawaiicon, I went to a writer's workshop taught by two very successful screenwriters, Brad Bell and Jane Espenson. I asked them about pace. They loved that question and so did the rest of the group. Lots of writers in this shop were clearly not amateurs, though not published, so it was refreshing to be with fellow writers who ranged from not-quite-beginner to published-near-expert. Bell's and Espenson's answer: TONE. When writing your story, you need to find the tone you're writing first. Are you the poetic sort that wants to take your readers barefoot through a peaceful stream, or throw on combat boots, and jump into a war? Finding the tone FIRST helps you avoid pacing problems.

Think about what you want the writing to feel like. Do you want it to be active and musical, action-like, or do you want it to be thoughtful and emotional? And most importantly, once you find the tone, stay consistent! Let the tone sink in; you will adapt and writing with the tone will come naturally.


What are you conveying? What do you want the reader to figure out? What do you want them to see? Knowing the why is figuring out your characters. Why did they say that? Why did they do that? What are we learning from this character? Everything must have meaning and each meaningful moment--be it dialogue, action, or introspection--must get the character closer to the solving the problem, the end-goal.


Some characters will make the tone for you, which makes the pace, which makes the story. What does your character do and think? Do they jump to conclusions, jump without thinking, shoot and ask later? Are they quiet, seemingly anti-social, but paying attention to every detail? Where does your perspective character come from? Do they get lost in thought sometimes? Figure out your characters so they can help you with the tone and pace.


This means EVERYONE'S goals. And if these goals are on a time limit, you can bet millions your pace will be fast, and you'll need to shorten those sentences, and make every word precise and blunt. Your characters won't have time to "get lost in their mind"--they might have quick flashbacks to a painful memory, but never "the leaves ease from a summer green to a burning red" blah blah blah. But if you're not constrained by time, you can put some nice breaks between action scenes; you'll have more slow intervals for character development between achieving goals. Unless character development for the character is the romance, or some teen stories. Depends on your characters' goals, of course. 


Genre. So you found what you're trying to convey, you know your characters and goals, now you must know where you're throwing them. Drop them in a fast-paced environment with fast-paced goals and you have something like the show 24. Drop them in a small town where not a lot seems to go on and you have something like Longmire. If you created your own world, it's all on your preference and the region of that world. 

Now it's your job to assess your pace.


Study your favorite books. It's better with books so you can see the words used to quicken or shorten the pace. But if you need fast advice, you can always check on different series genres. In shows, you can feel it more because you're watching it happen. 

(Tip from Bell and Espenson: TURN ON CAPTIONS.

When studying TV shows or movies (they're screenwriters they do this often) they always have the captions on so they can see the flow of dialogue and the choice words. To them, dialogue is music. It's their entire world or their scripts are nothing. But for novels, dialogue might be half of what is required, if at all.)

Polar Examples:

Longmire - pace of the story is through the eyes of the protagonist and based on his personality and his environment. When you go through the story, you're riding a trotting horse down a long trail. You take in the mountains, the vast farm fields, and trees in the distance. You listen to the nearby stream, you see what kind of rocks line the road as you make your way to your cabin, where a warm fire awaits, with a wife or husband making a cup of hot tea for you.

24 - based on high-stress situations and how fast character needs to achieve goals, and how much faster antagonist wants to achieve their goals. You're in a car and you speed by all the little details because they're insignificant to the problems you must deal with right now. You have to get to the end or you'll die, or your family will die, or America will go explode-y. 

Any other examples that lie in between these two opposites you can figure out yourself. You're smart. 

Go forth and multiply (your word count)!

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Are there ways you figure out your pace? Is there a strategy you use?  Comment below! If this helped you in any way, please share it on Pinterest or where ever your mind desires!