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…
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. !
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.
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. 😀
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
With all the fuss having been lately directed at the ‘horrors’ of high school and my new camera–where does that leave writing? Well, lately there hasn’t been much time. But…a few days ago I experienced that overwhelming feeling that I MUST write. So I started writing again. And, I am so very glad I did. My characters are so special to me and writing more about them only increases my anticipation for the closure of their unique stories. This post will focus on my two favorite writing projects (aka- the two I couldn’t ever put down because I am emotionally attached to them 😉 . ) The Sheltered from the Storm Series and my single dystopian YA novel Watchful. So, on to Writing Right Now!
Sheltered from the Storm Series
The Robin’s Storm, SFTS series book 1.
The Robin’s Flight, SFTS series book 2.
The Robin’s Freedom, SFTS series book 3.
The Robin’s Son, SFTS series 4.
I am literally in the middle of book three! I am so excited. I feel like my characters have crossed and ocean since book one. The biggest challenge I have faced so far (besides ruthlessly murdering one of my favorite characters and being depressed for a week) is figuring out how to make the first book a great starting book. I started writing it when I was 12 or 13 –and my writing style and concept of the idea is much different. Here’s a little summary of each book so far:
The Robin’s Storm
I am pretty much considering re-writing this book and doing my very best to make it fit with the other two books. It will be discouraging and difficult, I have no doubt. And I am not terribly thrilled about it. But here’s the basic plot of the story.
Anna and Ross (siblings) live in the country of Cantavia and are Christians.
Evil men kidnap Ross.
Anna and friends go after him.
They go to the capitol city trying to find Ross.
They discover things are much more serious than they appear.
The rest of the book is dedicated to many action sequences and events that occur.
It sounds very simple, right? I can’t believe I just summarized it so very quickly. But trust me–it’s not as boring or simple as it sounds. I’m trying not to spoil all the middle (and most important) stuff. Did you notice I didn’t mention why Ross (who is 12, BTW.) was kidnapped? Why would they want a young boy? And who kidnapped him in the first place? And what are the serious things Anna and friends discovered? Who is/are the villain(s) (you have to have one of those!) and what do they want? See what I mean? There’s a whole lot more that I don’t want to spill right now. Here’s one of my favorite scenes which will probably utterly confuse you :p .
“There they are!”
She exclaims enthusiastically. I follow her as if in a dream. Soon I’m standing close to Tin.
“Ahh…so you are finally here! And you both look charming. I claim the first dance-s.”
Tin slurs his words purposefully. I shiver. Oh, great, dance with Tin? What could possibly be worse? I look at our group. Beckym, Bennor, Ellis, and Tin are outfitted in tuxedos- each a different color. None of them are overly brightly colored. Except Tin’s, which is bright pink.
“To the dance room!”
Tin orders taking the lead. My stomach turns as we walk. That elevator was designed to annihilate people’s stomachs. Ross will be there, as will all the other victims. Funny that the victims are allowed to do whatever they please tonight- except leave. Because tomorrow- they will probably all be dead. Lord, please don’t let Ross be one of them!
“What a beautiful room!”
Sarah exclaims loudly. She’s doing a wonderful job acting, while I’m doing dreadfully. Then I look up. The sight takes my breath away. Flowers…real flowers, everywhere. No portraits of victims or photos taken from the Purging. No rabid animals’ mouths dripping with human blood. Just flowers. Then I look around. Oh no. People, lots of people. Women stand by chatting- looking perfectly (revolting)…fake. Men in tuxedos. Then a dance floor. Couples whirling to the music. Tin shinnies up to me and whispers in my ear:
“Remember the plan.”
The plan? Oh…right. The whole reason we’re here. The plan is really quite simple. The first person to find Ross will bring him to me, we will dance, I will tell him the plan. Then he will go with Tin- who will hand him over to Beckym and Ellis- and they will take him to a friend of Ellis’s. Ellis’s friend is arranging to have Ross escorted to the safety of people who will protect him for Dad’s sake. How they will get past security- I don’t know. And I don’t want to think about it. All I really know is that Tin will get Sarah and I out of here somehow- to the safety Ellis and Beckym seem so confident in. After that, who knows? I don’t care all that much, just so long as Ross gets to freedom. Then Tin speaks again- but to the group this time.
Yeah, great. Where should I go? Refreshment tables line the walls. Perfect. That should work. I make my way slowly (and, I hope, sophisticatedly) to the drink table. I ladle a glass out for myself and drink the liquid. The cold feels good on my stomach.
Says a pleasant voice behind me. I jump, wheel around, and right myself. A hint of amusement flickers in the stranger’s eyes. He wears a little black pin on his tuxedo. Oh, he’s a victim. The realization hits me.
“Sorry if I startled you.”
“Oh, no harm done…I jump rather easily. What is your name?”
“Barak Osbourne. I’m afraid I haven’t the pleasure of your name though.”
He points out. Oh, my manners are so awful! Sarah would’ve done this so perfectly.
“I’m sorry. I’m uh- Elisabeth Rhodes. It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Osbourne.”
I use the agreed-on name. Finally, I’m starting to get the hang of this.
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Rhodes. Would you care to dance?”
He asks politely. I panic inwardly. This was NOT part of the plan, what do I do now? Then I remember Tin’s words: ‘blend in’.
“It would be a pleasure, Mr. Osbourne.”
I reply graciously. The stranger, (Barak, I remind myself) leads me to the dance floor with an easy grace. The music begins. Slow, freestyle, but Barak isn’t dancing close. He’s obviously doing the leading…but he makes me more comfortable. I begin to relax. He begins to converse quietly.
“Tell me, Miss Rhodes, if you were in my shoes, what would your reaction be?”
The question catches me by surprise. My reaction, to being a victim? Should I trust him?
I answer, after a moment’s hesitation.
“You think as we think. Only a few of us want to be victims and are excited about the Purging tomorrow.”
Tomorrow! Ross, where are you? Then he lowers his voice to a whisper:
“Many of us are Christians, Miss Rhodes; we aren’t worried about where we’ll go if we die. We have been purchased by Christ…”
By Christ…he’s a Christian? Or is he trying to trick me?
“Don’t get me wrong- we still pray for deliverance. We pray specifically for a certain kind of deliverance…Anna.”
I nearly scream, but catch myself just in time.
“How do you know…?”
I whisper, all my precautions out the door. Barak silences me with a quick motion which could have been part of the dance. The music ends- Barak bows, and I curtsy.
“I enjoyed our dance, Miss Rhodes,”
He says, and then he adds quietly:
“Don’t be afraid to do the necessary.”
Then, he’s gone. Just as if that never happened. How did he know? I still feel shaken when I feel a tap on my shoulder. Having learned better- I turn around slowly. I turn around to find Bennor and…
“Are you sure this is my sister?”
Ross asks Bennor with a twinkle in his eye. Of course it’s still me! The very notion of makeup and a fancy dress changing who someone is…!
“Yes, it is. But I hardly recognize her myself.”
Bennor and Ross laugh. This is no time to be fooling around! Then Bennor whispers:
“There’s been a slight change of plans. We’re taking Ross right to Tin, and then you and Sarah are coming with me.”
“Okay, let’s go!”
Let’s get out of here, FOREVER! As I pass Ross I whisper a hasty ‘goodbye, I love you’. But Ross actually tears up and says:
“Love you, Anna, be safe.”
Be safe? You’re the one who’ll be in the most danger. But it’s sweet of him anyway.
Do forgive all the adverbs (evidence that this is ‘beautifully’ unedited).
The Robin’s Flight
This book is much more polished than the first. I think when I picked it up my style and everything has really matured. But again, basic plot:
Starts by reintroducing us to some of the main characters.
Anna lives in a new place that is hidden. A Christian community lives there as well.
She is on the safety squad which attempts to keep the Christians semi-‘safe’.
Something (not saying what) happens that makes them have to flee.
All the rest focuses on all the events that transpire afterward. The main one is that Anna has to consider leaving her beloved country (again, avoiding the reason why.).
None of the scenes in this book are typed out as of yet, so it would take too long to write it here. From here on out- the books are only handwritten on lined notebook paper. Sorry!
The Robin’s Freedom
This is the final book in this trilogy. What, it’s a trilogy? Yep. But–I thought there were FOUR books! There are. Or will be. But I see the first three as being directly together, and the last one as being all on it’s own. The reason for that is it occurs several years after this last book (I won’t be updating you on book 4, because there’s nothing to report on there.). Basic plot? Here ya’ go!
Picks up almost directly from the end of the 2nd book.
People begin to seek recruits for the war (What, didn’t know there was a war? I know–I didn’t mention it 🙂 .).
Battles occur. (you still don’t know any of this middle stuff, or even what the conflict is about!)
People die. (my depression)
There’s a romantic interest. (one really can’t avoid it–only reduce the cheese.) I’m trying to make it as unsappy and realistic as possible while still making it sweet.
All the rest. Major climax. What happens? Etc.
IT ALL ENDS HERE! (what ends here? Well, maybe you should be a beta reader if you’re interested 😉 .)
I will spare you the synopsis which you can find here if you really want it. But the basis plot is about this:
Jessica Graye is sent to IUIB (Institute for Unusually Intelligent Beings) to be schooled.
She meets many new friends, but is distrustful of the school from the beginning.
She has a gift which she is forced to hide because of her growing distrust of the school.
She graduates and is assigned to be secretary to someone.
Many things happen in the middle.
Infinity. Dramatic ending. Etc.
Sorry, really basic–again! Here’s a scene I like.
“All newly-arrived students are requested to meet at the briefing hall in an hour. Those who fail to appear will be found and forced to spend the day with the precariots.” The order just plays over and over. Soon, Prisl and I are getting annoyed.
“You’d think we would’ve gotten the message by now.” I comment, brushing a speck of lint off my uniform.
“No kidding. We must be idiots.” Prisl adds, rolling her eyes. I laugh a little. Prisl and I are already rather good friends. And we’ve known each other for one afternoon, and about two hours this morning. It must be that we both tend to be somewhat sarcastic. Prisl has her hair done so fast it’s not even funny. Her red hair is so short; all she must do is brush it. When it’s my turn to use the mirror- I just stand there, uncertain.
“Never done your own hair?” Prisl asks.
“I um- I have,” I hesitate.
“Just never in front of a mirror.” I finish.
“Oh.” she sidles closer to me.
“I’ve never looked in a mirror much before.”
“Well then, let’s make this a first.” She smiles a little and hands me my brush from the nightstand.
I finger my hair, and shift my weight from one foot to the next. Someone taps my shoulder from behind. I turn in surprise. Garth stands there.
“When’s this thing gonna’ start?” he asks, voicing the thought we must all have.
“How would I know?” I respond.
“Sleep okay?” is his next question.
“Yes, great. You?” I fire back.
“Well, I suppose. Felt a little less comfortable on the beds here. Hard as rocks. Rather sleep on the ground.” He answers.
“I didn’t notice.” I say in an innocent tone.
“You wouldn’t.” he says. That’s for sure; I’m not too concerned about physical comfort.
“Let’s get closer, Jess.” Prisl says, appearing at my side. Garth gets a funny look on his face. When Prisl sees him- she extends her hand.
“Prisl Smith, from Beacon.” She introduces herself.
“Garth Williams, from Vigor.” He says, standing up taller and smoothing his words noticeably.
“Nice to meet you. You’re Jess’s friend?”
“Yes, from childhood, in fact.” He answers, still smoothing out his in general rough speech.
“That’s nice. Would you like to join us in the front?” Prisl asks.
“Thanks, but no. My friend Michael and I are gonna’ stand over by the speakers.” He looks at me when he says this, as if realizing that I’m still here. I frown, trying to push down the feeling that even now- I am losing my friend. I am losing Garth. Soon we are standing up front balancing on tiptoe. A woman in grey pants and shirt looks down at us without any expression.
“Welcome to the Institute for Unusually Intelligent Beings. You are here because your parents saw potential in you. Or because they thought they saw potential in you.”
“Encouraging, isn’t she?” Prisl whispers. I nod.
“This school is here to separate the intelligent from the average. In the next few months, you will all be placed under rigorous training to test your abilities. If at any time during that period, you experience anything unusual- you are to report at once to the Capital ward. Once there, you will be tested. If you pass that testing, you will receive special training- and then become a true capital. Are there any questions?” the woman’s eyes scan the curious faces around her. One girl raises her hand.
“I was wondering what a ‘Capital’ is?”
“A ‘Capital’ is a rating. If you have a gift, you are given the rating of ‘Capital’.” She answers.
“A gift?” I am almost surprised to hear my own voice. The woman turns on me with a steeled and measured gaze.
“A gift can be anything from very strong to unusually smart. It can be something not seen in other humans. We have not discovered all the possibilities now. That is part of the point of this school. To find gifts and evaluate them, to test people and see what we can do for the rest of the world with those gifts.” At last her gaze drops from my face. I feel relieved. For some reason, this woman’s words don’t ring true to me. Prisl pokes me.
“Hey, that was creepy! She was just staring at you.” I don’t answer.
“Any other questions?” the lady asks, glancing down at her clipboard.
“What other ratings are there, and what does it take to get them?” A tall young man asks.
“The ratings are Capitals, Tributaries, and Precariots.” Prisl nudges me at this point. She whispers in my ear:
“That’s what came over the loudspeakers. Precariot isn’t a nice word either. Doesn’t it mean like, lowest of the low?” I nod. I also nudge her hard as the lady keeps on talking…
“The Capitals are those with gifts, the Tributaries are those who do not have gifts, and they serve the Capitals when their training is complete. The Precariots, on the other hand—are nothing. They have no gifts and are neither smart nor helpful. They do all the menial tasks for the school. They must obey the commands of both Capitals and Tributaries. Their jobs include sanitation and deep cleaning. I would not recommend facing off with Capitals or school leaders, as this sort of behavior has gotten many into the Precariot position. I regret to inform you that the time for questions is up. Good evening and wisdom go with you.”
After the Q and A, everyone leaves the Briefing Hall, which I have concluded is just a huge room. For some reason, I can’t shake this feeling of anxiety. Something about this place just rubs me all wrong. Prisl is already good at reading me and is quick to suggest a little detour back to our room. Her suggestion is confusing, but I allow her to drag me down several flights of stairs. She comes to a complete stop in front of a grey door which looks a lot like the entrance to a lab.
I am making slow but sure progress on this book and am really enjoying it in all it’s dystopian glory. If you don’t know the definition of a dystopian novel here’s a basic one:
“Dystopian literature is a genre of fictional writing used to explore social and political structures in ‘a dark, nightmare world.’ The term dystopia is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor or oppression and the theme is most commonly used in science fiction and speculative fiction genres.”
Thanks for letting me ramble! This has been a fun journey for me to take, and it only gets more exciting. Sorry for the length of this post! 😦 🙂
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…
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.
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.
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 think I have just the man to find the source for you.”
“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.
The president inquires.
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.
The man leered at me threateninglypointing 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.).
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?
Today I’m doing something a little different. A post on failure…(so popular, right? 🙂 )
In my albeit short life, I have undergone a lot of (what I would consider) failures. Mostly in my crazy craft life. Other failures include:
a. writing endeavors.
b. drawing endeavors.
c. picture-snapping endeavors.
d. etsy business endeavor.
Thankfully, I’m told we all make mistakes. But…that doesn’t make an excuse for mediocrity. So…how should we handle the failures? First off, I would say…
In my humble opinion, quitting is the true failure.
2. Observe the ‘failure’ and try to figure out where you went wrong.
This may be the singularly most helpful thing you can do. There have been so many things like this for me personally. Let’s take a pretty popular high-school example: math. (There are plenty of people who like it, I know…) I for one, am going through geometry. And I’m finding that it’s getting harder. I have to apply this tip to geometry all the time! I go back and observe where I went wrong…and I study so that NEXT TIME- I won’t make the same ole’ mistake.
3. Keep it in your mind that this should be done for God’s glory.
Too often, I think we make the mistake in thinking that everything we’re working for is for us! Talk about needing a shift in focus. I’m always wishing I could remember this in my hour of frustration. If I was setting my mind on higher things, I probably WOULD remember this whenever I’m frustrated about something.
To close this brief study on failure I will share a quote that I love on failure (funny that I love something relating to failure 🙂 ).
NOTE: Just so y’all know, I do NOT consider myself an expert on any topics I pick up on this blog. Really, writing all this out helps me more than anyone. As I write my thoughts, I am able to think more clearly about things. This blog really is talking to myself most of all!
What are things YOU have ‘failed’ at and want to ‘try, try again’?
Do you have any additional things that have helped you deal with failure?