Writer’s Block// How to Escape the Scrape

A new writing post has emerged!

The last one that was similar to this was 5 Reasons You Should Keep Writing. 

Today we’ll be talking about writer’s block.

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Your inspiration is non-existent. You don’t feel like writing…or maybe you do and can’t think of anything to put on that blank page (or screen 😀 ). Congratulations!

You have writer’s block.

Now that I’ve diagnosed your writing problem (which you most likely have already diagnosed 😉 ) and also given you a deceptive blog post title…we may proceed!

What??! You gave us a deceptive blog post title?

Well, yes I did. You see…there’s no one way to fix this problem. I can’t just give you tips and say “This one will totally work for you!”. Because…every person is different and what works for me may not work for you. Yay, aren’t I encouraging?

While that may sound like bad news…guess what? It can also be very good news! Putting it positively- your solution may be right around the corner waiting to be discovered. So see, it’s not hopeless!

Ideas to destroy this beast…

  1. Remove anything and everything that’s distracting you from your presence. We have so many things in life that could potentially distract us from the one thing we want to do right now. I know for me personally- I go from writing a school assignment to just- not. Whether that means I’m checking my email or doing somethin’ else- It’s distracting me from writing. So. GET. RID. OF. THOSE. PESKY. DISTRACTIONS. ONE. BY. ONE. !
  2. Find a book to read that will get the imagination flowing. If you’re trying to write something in the fantasy genre, maybe read something in that genre. For instance, my current project is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. I keep on reading the original story to get the creative juices flowing. 
  3. Find a new angle. Were you telling the story first person? Try this out: tell the story in second person. Or you can take another character vital to the story and tell it in his/her perspective. If you’re struggling to put those first words on the paper…think about a way to make the story opening something totally different than what you’d intended. Was Willemina a princess once? Why not turn her into an ugly young woman afraid she’s never going to be realized for the princess she is? Now–true, this may just ruin the story. But there really are limitless possibilities. And it’s always possible you assigned the character the wrong role. 😀
  4. Make a pinterest storyboard. This may not be for everyone. But I can attest to loving this. Sometimes images inspire the mind when nothing else can. They visually transport you into the realm you’re writing about. They help you envision what you were trying to write. If you want an example of one you can check out mine for my dystopian story Watchful here. I love doing this, and it’s especially helpful to look back on when I’m stuck or uninspired. 
  5. Story Prompts. I’m not sure when this became a ‘thing’. But I just started getting into it. One thing I used to worry about was the possibility of plagiarism. Not anymore though. Because, I have discovered that different minds think differently. And while, yes, we sometimes tend to think similarly—you’d be surprised at what I come up with VS what others come up with. So don’t worry! Story prompts are an amazing way to help you step it up. Why not try angling what you have of your story into a prompt to enhance the plot? Or start your story with a prompt!
  6. Write. There is a way that may make you upset. It’s called writing. 😀 You’re not going to beat this writer’s block without doing some writing. Most of the things I’ve suggested up until now–have been ways to get the writing juices flowing. Because I don’t want you to think that the solution is NOT to write. True, you may need a little break. You may need to go outside where the air is clean to think about it. But the solution isn’t to quit writing indefinitely until you’re inspired. That’s a sure way to either never write, or when you do–to go back off it just as soon. 
  7. Try listening to epic music. I wouldn’t recommend pop or anything where the beat is louder than the words. If you’re writing a romance novel…imagine the scene while you’re playing some soft, sweet music. Try instrumental. If bigfoot is about to stomp on littlefoot…then play something tense. Will littlefoot be trod underfoot? 🙂 I personally love listening to movie soundtracks for epic fight scenes and the like. But you may need something smooth and calming. I do too, sometimes. 
  8. Make a writer’s schedule. This is one that I’m awful at, but really need to try. If you pace yourself so that you’re writing at a certain time for a certain amount of time- it may help. Put it in a place in that busy schedule where it’s not so likely to be loud. Make it fit at a ‘smooth’ part of the day where your work load isn’t there to bother you. 

 

I hope this was helpful to you! Keep writing!

Have you tried any of these?

Name a way not listed that’s helped you in the comments!

A you a writer, or more of a reader?

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Chop the Adverbs!

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You’ve probably heard this dozens of times. But it’s worth repeating: most editors dislike a lot of adverbs in creative writing. You’ve probably also heard the horror stories of the poor victims that showed up to the editors office and were told: “I need you to remove around 100 adverbs. I would recommend either completely changing the structure of the scene or adding a good strong verb instead.”

That is scary to me! I hope when I finally get around to having an actual editor that I won’t have the worry of extra adverbs on my plate. And so that is my primary focus in my writing right now.

But let’s ask the important question first: “Why do I have to cut out my adverbs anyway?”

Why You Need to Chop Adverbs…

  1. Because it can turn the reader off by being repetitive or excess. It really can do that. Have you ever read a book that was just so…*yawn* worthy? I’m not just talking about boring. I’m talking about over-the-top descriptions.

Example:

Jill and Jackson rushed quickly about the house.

Let’s take a look at this. Jill and Jackson rushing around is fine. It gives you a sense of the urgency of whatever is going on in the scene. So why  inclusion of the adverb- quickly?  That just distracts the reader. You should always stay away from extra/excess/unnecessary modifiers and descriptions. In the above example, I just restated the verb using an adverb. Instead, I ought to have just stuck with my strong verb-rushed. The next example is a sample taken from the scene of one of my books- before I removed as many adverbs as I could.

 Example:

“Rohn?”

A short grizzly looking man with sinister eyes and a foul expression asks.

The tall man he addresses looks annoyed.

“Vice President Cain, how many times do I need to tell you I am President Rohn?”

Cain trembles slightly at the tall man’s obvious annoyance.

“I apologize, President Rohn. I am simply wondering what you plan to do about the Christian uprising that’s been occurring. It’s all over the place! Just yesterday we had to kill an old man who was making a fuss about repenting because the kingdom of God…”

“Stop! I know all this! Can’t your men even keep one old man from making a racket? I tell you to keep all the Christians in the city from proclaiming that garbage and you just allow him to do it until you must kill him? In front of all those people, too?”

“He won’t be spreading his religion any longer.”

The vice mutters in an injured tone.

“Cain, we must find the root of this rebellion and terminate it. Send someone to find the source. Do whatever you must do to end the resistance! Ever since that Paul Liberty had to defy me!”

“Paul Liberty? Isn’t that the man who refused to conform to our laws and bow the knee to you? He was a troublemaker!”

“Yes, that’s him! I never could understand him. He was offered every luxury imaginable and he chose death.”

“How irrational, Sir.”

“I know.”

“I think I have just the man to find the source for you.”

“Who?”

“He’s a ruthless man who will do anything for money. He fits into our society. He’s the same man that killed Paul Liberty, I believe. He’s a conformist, and will do whatever is best for his own welfare.”

A sly grin comes onto President Rohn’s face as his vice describes the man.

“His name?”

The president inquires.

“Martin Ashveld.”

 

You only see four ‘ly’ adverbs in this exchange. It’s been a while since I’ve actually looked at the sentence structure of this for a while. I am not sure if I should remove the adverbs I have there. I would say yes, because it seems that they’re unnecessary.

 

2. We need to focus on displaying what we’re trying to display. I write a whole lot in first person perspective. I have a big problem. I’m not so great at showing the reader what I want to show them- so I end up telling them instead. Adverbs can really be a cheap way to go. Instead of going all out…I can get away with some easy navigation.

 

Example:

The man leered at me threateningly pointing his gun at my head. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end…In a flash I managed to tie him up rather skillfully.

How could we have prevented telling this? I mean we want the reader to get involved in the heat of the scene. So we want to show them what happened, not tell them.

The example fixed:

The man leered at me (threateningly is removed, because it’s obvious he was threatening the girl- he was pointing a gun at her head after all!) pointing his gun at my head. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end… (In a flash removed) I managed to tie him up (I dumped skillfully as well, because it’s falling into telling them how. I stuck with the good strong verb.).

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So that’s not near all the reasons I thought of…but I would recommend checking out Emily Tjaden’s post on cutting adverbs: http://www.thisincandescentlife.com/2015/05/9-reasons-to-cut-adverbs-from-your-writing/

Here’s another post I like on the same topic as mine and Emily’s: http://writetodone.com/shoot-adverbs/

Yet another post on the (same) topic: https://www.writingforward.com/writing-tips/writing-tips-abolish-adverbs

Another post that I think is good tells about HOW to get rid of your adverbs: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-eliminate-adverbs

 

Please don’t ‘shoot’ me when you notice that I use adverbs a lot in my posts (you might even find occurrences in THIS post! 🙂 ). I don’t have the time to sit editing my blog posts like that, but when it comes to writing—I think we can agree it’s way more important to be polished.

 

What are YOUR thoughts on cutting adverbs?

Do you tend to use adverbs a lot?

What is your stance on modifiers in general?

If you were to revisit a writing draft you wrote from long ago, would you find more adverbs or less?

 

 

~Emmaline