Writer’s Block? Let’s Talk.

horseheader11.jpgGood Morning!

Well, I thought I’d take a break from my usual posts about Native America and bring you something different today.  This is group-11.jpgfrom my website, by the way.  It has occured to me that you who frequent our blog, are often writers in their own right — and if so, you have my sympathy.  This is not always the easiest of business’s.  Tips can be valuable.  So here are mine — on how to get yourself out of writer’s block.  Now the article featured below is from my website and I wish it were a larger font, but I can’t seem to change it — so please forgive.  So here we go.  Now, don’t forget to come on in and post and tell me your ways to get yourself out of writer’s block, as well.  Okay?12-grandcanyon1.jpg  By the way, the picture above is myself and Lois Greiman with Oklahoma romance writers.  The picture to the left is my husband and myself at the Grand Canyon.

WRITER’S BLOCK

BY KAREN KAY 

Starved, for ideas? Can’t seem to decide where that next scene should start, that scene you were certain would be easy to write? Or do you find your characters standing before you with arms folded, a scowling expression, tapping their feet,and refusing to go any further?  There’s not an author alive who doesn’t have trouble with a scene or with his characters from time to time.If you have ever had this happen to you while writing your manuscript, you may not be suffering from lack of imagination-itis, as friends and associates might like you to believe. But, rather than blame that fleeting thing called imagination, let’s take a step back and look at it this way:  Your trouble might be nothing more than a simple case of not enough research-ism.  Research, that terrible word that spells w-o-r-k.  Research, that ephemeral term that means hours at the library, or hundreds of dollars spent on b-o-r-i-n-g history books or long hours spent on the internet. I can’t think of anything less interesting than my high school history classes, and if you have had any sort of similar experience, I don’t blame you for looking upon research as a kind of curse word.  Now, how many times have I heard people say, “I’d like to write a book, but I don’t think I can do the research,” or “I don’t know where to start the re-search.” 

 Well, truth be told-and, shhh, don’t tell anyone that I have let you in on the secret, because others might not be easy on me- research is not only easy, it’s fun. 

 I have a quiz for you. Let’s see how you score on the research line. 

    1. Do you talk to other people at least once a day? 
    2. Do you read books or go to the movies? 
    3. Do you have interests that require you to read about them? 
    4. Have you ever had a relationship with the opposite sex?

Give yourself one point for each question that you answered a yes to. Do you have at least one point for the entire quiz? If you do, congratulations and well done. You’ve been doing research.  “What?” you say, “Are you crazy?” 

Well, maybe. But the truth is, all of life is research. Yes, it’s true, there’s a lot to be learned from history books, and if you enjoy that sort of thing write historicals. But all of life- let me repeat that- all of life is research. I believe an author’s work is imbued with his observations, his life experiences, and resultant emotions 

 Got a stuck scene? Go out and live. Go to a movie. Go dancing. Take a friend to lunch. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Go to the library or just talk to someone. 

 Do something and do it for a few days- maybe even a week- and before you know it, thoughts and images will come to you to get that scene moving again, or to get your characters simmered down enough to solve their problems. Believe me, it works. Something will come to you. 

 Don’t be fooled- here’s where a lot of people depart from reality- don’t think that an author stays home and types on his computer and turns in a perfect manuscript without having ever stepped a foot outside his door. Somewhere, somehow, that author went out and lived life. 

 An author- an artist- has probably the most comprehensive job in all the world. Why? Because every single incident he observes, every single thing that happens to him is fodder for an idea in his story. Indeed, an author is indebted to others- to life around him- for a continuing, fresh flow of ideas. 

 So, perhaps the first step in research is simply this one: realizing that your research has already begun. 

 The second step is to be more alert than ever, to let your mind recognize the value of what you see and feel, to record it against a busy mind that will begin to forget as other incidents intrude. 

 Just carry forward doing something that interests you, that you enjoy, something that inspires you. And before long, you’ll have a rich fund of story ideas waiting to be developed. 

 Remember this the next time you’re having trouble with a scene. Go out and live life to the fullest. In fact, splurge on it. Your book will reflect your enthusiasm. 

HINTS FROM KAREN KAYWhile I hardly consider myself an expert on the subject of creative writing, I have found that I do seem to have an abundance of opinions on the subject. Some of these opinions might prove useful to others, some may not. 

    1. Forget grammar, spelling, punctuation structure, etc. etc. Most of what is taught in college courses I’m afraid is how to edit, not how to write.
     2. Write the story of the people before you. Once you’ve created the characters of your story, let them guide you and let them solve their own problems. They will, solve their own problems, that is, unless something earlier in your story is lopsided. And then I feel one should go back and fix whatever is wrong and then magically the characters stop rebeling and the story rolls on through.
    3.Every scene should have three reasons for the scene. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are. It could be anything. But there should be three. (This, by the way, was handed down to me from Anne Stuart, a very sucessful author, and I have found this to be a good rule.) 
     4. Know what message you are trying to deliver in your writing and say it in a language your audience can and will understand. Always remember your audience. While you do write from the heart and while you are not catering to your audience, you still will be more successful if you reach them so they, too, can experiance all that you have, too. (This rule I discovered from the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, another successful writer.)   

Well, that’s it.  What do you think?  Did you learn anything?  Do you have tips you’d like to share?  If so, please do come on in and let’s talk.  Now, please be aware that I am in Florida taking a very extensive course and so I will be checking your posts at lnch and at dinner and also at the end of th evening.  So please bear with me.  Okay?

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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22 thoughts on “Writer’s Block? Let’s Talk.”

  1. Good Morning Karen!

    I’ve had plenty of writer’s block in my life. For ten years I didn’t finish my first novel- why? Because I had reached a climatic point in the story that I KNEW I had to write, but because it was so closely linked to a personal experience and fear in my own life, I couldn’t bring myself to write it. Too close to the surface. Instead, I spent ten years chalking it up to writer’s block.

    I hate that it took me 10 years to work through it and actually get it written, but in that time I had a lot of great life experiences that changed my way of thinking- and my way of writing.

    When I have writer’s block now- or think I’m up against a wall, I do take a break. I call my mom. Sometimes she and I can talk through what scene I’m stuck on and she’ll throw me an idea without even realizing it. I blast music and sing at the top of my lungs and wash the dishes. I spend time with my husband and kids. Even a trip to the grocery can help me mull over what’s holding me up because it gives me a chance to truly step away from writing. If there’s something holding up the story because of my lack of knowledge, I research it- sometimes to the point of a headache, but I get it figured out.

    I had particular trouble with one of the heroines I wrote last year. I was working on a series about four sisters and when I started writing, the first one went rather smoothly, though the eldest sister kept getting in my head trying to tell me HER story before I’d finished her sister’s.(Her story wasn’t supposed to be the one I wrote next and I finally had to cave and promise to write hers when I finished the first one.)

    That wasn’t the writer’s block though. It came later while writing the loud talkative sister’s story. The sister I intended to write next was quiet. She didn’t didn’t want to talk at all. So when I got her story, I struggled because she was stubborn and angry and silent because of the severe situation I had put her in.

    I got the distinct impression she didn’t like what I’d done to her life. SHE liked having control and I had yanked that rug out from under her. It took me a LONG time to get her to start telling me her story after that. I wrote anyway and got through it and it made her a better character in the long run and I like to think she appreciates it now, even though she hated me for it to begin with.

    For me, that’s the toughest writer’s block of all-dealing with stubborn, non-talkative characters. I can research all I want, but when the character doesn’t want to lead the way and tell me what’s on their minds I have to work harder to “know” my character and figure out their silence more than anything.

  2. Great post!

    Writer’s block for me usually comes when I’m TIRED or when I’m not listening to the characters or not listening to what God is trying to say through me.

    How I deal with it – take a break which sometimes means submit and surrender and just write.

    I love the creative process – it is the EDITING that drives me nuts LOL!

    Pamt

  3. What a great post! You really did hit the nail on the head, and gave out some really great advice. I’ve never thought about there having to be three reasons for a scene, but that’s a great way to keep everything in sync. You’re too cool. Hugs, Phyliss

  4. Hi Kay, yes this helped me….I love your writing and Anne Stuart’s so how could it not?

    My problem lately is just sitting down and doing it. Hubby is retired and likes to hang out with me (flattering of course), and our daughter is getting married so there are tons of wedding plans and phone calls and a bazillion other excuses I can think of LOL.

    But after reading this post, I realize they are just excuses and I better get on the stick!

    Hugs to you, Kay.

  5. Hi Karen,
    Wonderful post on writer’s block. I don’t have it at the moment, but I’m starting a new story and I’m struggling to get it right. Your tips on getting out and living are sooo true! You can’t write about life, if you don’t experience it. Thanks for the reminder. And I’m delving into new territory with writing a trilogy about winemakers, so I’ve been doing lots of research. I have an even greater appreciation for wine now.

    Thanks for the tips and hints. They have helped!!

  6. Hi Tanya!

    Wow! Thank you for your post. Makes me feel good. : )

    I’m sort of doing the same thing right now. I have this course I’m trying to finish up quickly and get home and so my writing is suffering right now. : )

  7. Hi Mary!

    My hat is off to you. I must admit that I have had writer’s block, but writing on deadline doesn’t allow for it, so I’ve had to find ways to get through it.

    I go through the same thing you do, as well. : ) I think sometimes we are our worst critics.

  8. Hi Charlene,

    First congrats on the new trilogy — I so admire your writing and how successful you are. Plus, I really admire your sweetness and friendship.

    Again, I do get writer’s block, thus I’ve put some time into things that help me get through it. : )

  9. Hey Kay, great post. I never had writer’s block either until a few months ago when I was writing a scene for a challenge/contest. I had certain parameters to work between and I although I kept getting ideas, I couldn’t get anything that… sparkled, if you will. I seemed to be stuck in the same old, same old for over 2 hrs.

  10. Very helpful post, Kay. Writer’s block is a luxury I can’t afford. Usually when it strikes, it’s because I’m writing by the seat of my pants and I don’t know what’s supposed to happen next. Sitting down and making a sort of flow chart on a notepad helps me. But everyone is different. FWIW, I edit as I write. When I get to the end of my book, it’s pretty much done.
    P.S. I miss Adam
    🙂

  11. Elizabeth, I do the same thing as you do. I edit as I write so that by the time the story is done, the book is done. I have friends that write differently.

    We all write in different ways — viva la difference. : )

    Like you I often find myself writing by the seat of my pants. : )

  12. Hi Martha!

    Well, I don’t know if I’d call it a good time. I’m studying pretty much around the clock — but the good news is that I’m near the end of the course. Yea!

    Thanks for your post!

  13. Hi Anita!

    I must admit that it does strike me — but like Elizabeth, it’s a luxuary I can’t afford — so…

    Hope you got it all worked out.

    Thanks for your post!

  14. Hi Karen,
    Great Ideas! I really like the idea of 3 reasons for a scene. I am in the midst of a poem now for two years, very nearly an epic poem, and know exactly where I want it to go, but it has to “get there” just so….type and erase, type and erase, like Mary said, “drivel”.
    I think “3 Reasons” will be help.

  15. The best way to cure writer’s block is to write full-time and count on it to pay the bills. Once it’s your only job, rather than something you do “on the side” — you discover what a luxury writer’s block is!

    I don’t write, I don’t eat or pay the bills. Writer’s block has no place in my life.

    Some days are harder than others, but you push through, or try something else or do something physical, and, most importantly, you GET IT DONE.

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