Friday, May 31, 2013

What I Have Learned about Writers Block

Writers block, I think is different for everyone. It can have different causes and different remedies. Lately I have been struggling a lot with blockages and attempting to get through them. I thought I would share what I learned about my own personal writers block in case it is of any use to you.

Writers Block Cause #1: Exhaustion

If my brain or body or anything is tired - I can't write. I think it is because it requires energy to perform mental tasks (if only it burnt calories too!)

The Remedy
Sleep. Plain and simple. (However getting that sleep is not always that straight forward.)

Writers Block Cause #2: Stage Fright

This is the only title I could come up with for this cause. By 'stage fright' - I mean that feeling when you are getting ready to write (or revise) a very important scene and you are afraid it is going to fall flat. This what has been plaguing me the most lately.

The Remedy
Skip it and move on to something else. This is actually very difficult for me because I like to write and revise from start to finish. But learning to skip and move on is helping me power through the blocks.

Writers Block Cause #3: Disenchanted Feelings

This can be either losing interest or falling out of love with you WIP. Luckily this has not happened to me with this project (but it has happened in the past).

The Remedy

Shelve it. Forcing yourself to work on something that does not inspire you is going to be painful and will not be your best work. Set it aside and give it time to rest. Maybe all you need is a little distance.

Writers Block Cause #4: Shiny New Idea

When a new idea sparks your imagination it can be hard to continue with your current project. This is another thing that has been blocking me lately. I am still in love with my WIP - but this pesky new idea keeps nagging me.

The Remedy

Indulge yourself. I set a writing goal - and once I have met it I let myself work on my shiny new idea for a set amount of time. That way the shiny new ideas becomes a very tempting carrot and encourages me to make it through the block.

Writers Block Cause #5: Over Thinking

This kind of goes with stage fright. But is more a block because you don't know what to write and can't get the rusty wheels in your head to start turning and give you inspiration.

The Remedy

Distraction. I go onto iWriteNetwork to chat with writerly friends. Check facebook, turn on the TV, or even write a blog post :)

What have you learned about writers block from your own struggles

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Rules of Writing Part 4: Good Writing vs. Great Writing

First let me apologize about the tardiness of this post. It has been weighing on my mind and I was not sure how to proceed.

In Part 1 of this series I talked about three categories that the rules of writing fall under. In Part 2 I talked about best practices and in part 3 I talked about personal preferences.

This final installment I will discuss the final category - good writing versus great writing.

Great Writing

  • Avoid using adverbs
  • Have a tight POV
  • Avoid using passive voice
  • Avoid 'be' verbs
  • Show don't tell
  • Avoid cliches

The above list of 'rules' are some things that you can do to take your writing from good to great. Now, don't get me wrong, adverbs, passive voice, cliches and the like all have their place in our writing. We just need to be sure not to use them in excess.

Part of the reason it took me so long to write this installment of the series is because I kept trying to think of rules that made great writing. The above are some that I came up with. But you know what - they don't necessarily make your writing great.

So what does make writing great?

I thought back to some of my all time favorite books - the ones that I have read over and over again. I also thought of books whose popularity have stood the test of time. And you know what, they had three things in common:

Really Great Writing

  • Tell a great story
  • Have memorable characters
  • Connection with and inspire the reader

Now, I don't think there are any 'rules' of writing that can teach us or help us to do these things. I think it comes with practice and experience. We need to learn the craft of forming words into sentences, sentences into chapters, and chapters into books. But more importantly we need to craft ourselves as story tellers. That is what makes great writing.

What do you think makes great writing?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Insight (Beholders Book 1): A Review and a Giveaway

I am trying something new on my blog. I am going to do book reviews. It won't be a constant thing. Just when I read a book by one of my writerly friends I will review it here as well as on Goodreads. I also occasionally review books on and the Barnes and Noble website.

My reviews on Goodreads will tend to be brief and give a general idea of my feelings of the book. The reviews I will post on my blog will be more in depth. If you rather see the short version - just follow the link below.

Insight (Beholders Book 1) by Terron James

For more awesomeness check out the blog tour schedule

And don't miss out on the give away: a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a review of the second edition. I also reviewed the first edition.
Rating (out of 5):    
My Rating/Reviewing MO
Goodreads Page
Goodreads Review
Authors Webpage
Publishers Webpage
Recommended For: Every fantasy lover, suitable for all ages.

About the Book

See the Goodreads page (link above).

Pending Stars

When I finish the series this book has the potential to earn an additional star.

The Good

I really think the magic system in the Beholders world is cool. Beholders (the magic wielders) use something called "True Sight" to see and manipulate the worlds energies. James has really thought of some cool ways that this power can manifest itself. (I admit I got a sneak peak at some of the stuff from book two - I know you are jealous - and it is just as awesome.)

There are a lot of interesting little details here and there that bring the world to life. Things like the design of two of the major cities. The kings cross. The history of the world and the individuals in it, and how they are all connected (again some sneak peak knowledge helped there two). There are also some cool engineering tidbits and contraptions that are quite interesting. I won't go into details, because it would spoil it.

The very end has an awesome hock that will make you want to pick up the second book right away.

The righting is good, smooth. There is a fairly tight execution of POV which is important to me. The description is enough that I get a picture in my head but not so bothersome that I get distracted from the story (an improvement from the first edition. Also the back story is worked in well (not really any data dumps). And in most cases is handle expertly. There are still a few patches where events are summed up instead of played out (the old show vs. tell adage).

The Bad

I had three major issues with book:
  • It is about the world, not the characters
  • Some of the events I was most excited to see were skipped and referred to later.
  • The end fell short

I will cover each of these in more detail.

1. It is about the world, not the characters
First of all, this is not in and of itself a bad thing. I just personally prefer to read (and write) stories that are about individual characters. When I read the first edition I found it hard to connect with a specific character and care about their plight. When reading the book again I found it more difficult. For me, in the first half we are worried about Lon and his plight. But then that changes to the big world picture and we no long know who to root for. It kind of lost me a little.

2. Some of the events I was most excited to see were skipped and referred to later.
Often, one scene or chapter would end with the tantalizing promise of what lay ahead - only to have the event skipped over or summarized latter. It was a real let down. I also remember thinking to myself - more then once - when some event was referred to: I would have liked to see that instead of just hearing the characters talk about it. This by no means ruins the book. I think for me it goes back to number 1. The scenes were skipped because they did not contribute to the overall world story line - but I would have liked to see the character development that the scenes would have shown.

3. The end fell short
For me, the end fell short. Well, except the very end that has an awesome hook that makes you want to pick up book two right away. I don't want to give too much away. But a certain characters actions did not make sense to me. I could not see the change in view point or the reasons for the change. Also I thought some of the characters reactions to events at the end were both preemptive and excessive. I did not see how easily relationships like that would just fall apart. Again - this is a character thing for me.


Overall this book is a good fantasy read, and I can recommend it to those who are looking for just such a thing. I think this book would appeal to children and adults. It is also clean and free of fowl language. A big plus in my book. So be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to be Lonely in a Crowded Community

Writing for me has always been a release. I need a release today - so I am going to share my thoughts on something that some (but probably not all) of you can relate to.

Being lonely in a crowd.

Now if you are an extravert, you may be baffled by what I mean. But those of you who are introverts, don't need an explanation.

The following are some thoughts and feelings I have had over the past several years as I try to find my place in the writing community. Mostly this stems from still feeling like I don't fit in, despite my best efforts.

How to be Lonely in a Crowded Community

  1. Be different. Yes, I know, being a writer means you are inherently different. But I mean being different within the writing community. Here are some examples of how I am different:
    • I love prologues. No ands, ifs, or buts.
    • I like adverbs and will use them as I please.
    • I like dialog tags, and more specifically ones that are not 'said.'
    • I hate present tense.
    • I don't care for first point of view at all.
    I have noticed something about human nature. We tend to gravitate to people who think and feel the same as we do. So going against the grain has a way of isolating us.
  2. Express your different opinions. I am extremely opinionated. I think what I think and that is how I think. It takes a lot to change my mind. Especially about trivial, subjective things like those listed above. I believe in the free exchange of ideas, that is how we learn about the world around us and grow as people. This exchange requires that each person can express their opinion without being judged, and in return listens to the opinions of others without judging. I won't say I am perfect at this, but I try really hard.

    I think the problem in the writing community is that we pour our heart and souls into our writing (that is how me make it great, right?). And so it is hard to detach our emotions from the thoughts and feelings of other.

    This all goes back to that human nature thing. We tend to gravitate to those people who agree with us. Disagreeing sets us apart.

  3. Be Unique. Our nature is to avoid and even fear that which is different or that we do not understand. So being unique, though very important as a writer, can have side effects. Unique people find it hard to find people who are like them enough to form bonds of friendship and association. Being unique in a crowd can be very lonely.

The Moral of the Story

Be different. Express your different opinions. Be unique.

Wait, how does that solve the problem of being lonely in a crowded community, you ask? Did I ever say that being lonely was a problem? I don't believe I did. We should never give up ourselves to fit in. That is a lesson that took me years to learn, and which I often forget.

But being lonely is still hard, especially when you are surround by a sea of people you think you should fit into. And how do we over come that? I don't know. I am still searching for that answer. If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Do you feel lonely in the crowded writing community? How do you combat or accept that feeling of loneliness?