Archive for the ‘Writers Block’ Category

Are You Wandering Aimlessly?

May 9, 2020


The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been unbelievable on so many levels. From the speed at which it spread, to the closing of borders, schools and universities…and the cancellation of conferences, seminars and businesses in general.

It’s been a long, dark road.

The discussions about opening up again are all interesting, but they seem to be split between encouraging massive bursts of productivity and gentle, realistic spurts of things that are more manageable.

So many authors I connect with are struggling these days to write and feel productive, because they’re home with cats, dogs, kids, partners and noise. But, even those without all of the noise and distractions are struggling, too, because being alone is not easy either.

This begs the question, again…What do we need to make the work of writing possible? What makes us feel like we’re productive in terms of creating finished pieces of writing?

I have written many posts over the last few years about mental blocks to writing, and how to work through them. Some of the posts I come back to often remind me of this…

We don’t find time to write, we have to make it.

It’s not just physical time but, more importantly, mental time that we need. That space in your mind that can be focused just on writing…and not everything else that’s going on. This is often hard to do when your head is full of uncertainty and anxiety.

Despite all the rhetoric, we have no idea when we will be allowed to travel again, how long things should be closed, or what kind of ‘normal’ we’ll return to when everything re-opens. As an indie author, if I don’t go to book-signings, or put out new work, I don’t get paid. So, I need to keep writing and being productive.

But, like a lot of you, I’m listless, both figuratively and literally. The emotional toll of all of this should not be under-estimated. Stress has a significant effect on our ability to focus on tasks that require concentration and cleverness.

The uncertainty of the extraordinary emotional strain is perhaps the worst of it – how long is this going to last, and what will the world be like when the pandemic is past?

Talk About It
Don’t just quietly acknowledge this, but make a small space in your online engagements with colleagues and friends to voice some of the anxieties we all feel. We’re not alone in all this, but we often feel like we are, and what we feel is what creates both emotional and mental static that can be hard to work around.

I’ve mentioned it to some old friends recently. I shared anxieties with several of them, found it was mutual and, surprisingly, it seemed to help (me, anyway).

To follow-up on my last post…we all need to seek a new balance, allowing ourselves time to work through the other stuff in our head right now. We need to acknowledge our own stress and anxiety, and be kind to ourselves by creating a work routine…pushing to get things done every day, so we don’t meander around aimlessly, feeling like we’re not doing anything useful at all.

This is not business-as-usual, so we need to let ourselves have a few more moments of listlessness than we usually allow.

I’m certain it will jump-start creativity, and I’m also sure my writing, and yours, will start again soon.

Stay safe.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

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You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Wish You Were More Creative?

November 1, 2018

“Creativity” – Photo Courtesy Pexels.com

I found September and October this year to be a whirlwind. There were readings and book-signings, followed by writers’ group meetings, then a writing conference, capped just last weekend by another day-long book-signing. All while working on yet another novel.

It’s been enough to strain anyone’s creativity.

But I can almost hear you say, “Wait a second … you’re a writer. Aren’t you supposed to be creative all the time?” It’s a refrain often heard by folks in the writing community.

One great irony about our collective obsession with creativity is that we tend to frame it in uncreative ways. A friend, and fellow writer, told me recently he wasn’t working on anything at the moment, because he was “waiting for a flash of inspiration.”

Many authors marry creativity to their concept of self, but the key to unlocking real creative potential may be to defy the advice that urges you to believe in yourself.

I say that because I believe creativity is not merely an individual trait, but a malleable product of context and perspective.

Everyone has potential, but you can’t sit around thinking someone’s going to sprinkle fairy dust on you so wonderful things will happen.

So what do you do?

Role Play
It’s often as simple as imagining you are someone else. Actors often employ this technique to get into character for a performance but, the truth is, anyone can use it.

Don’t believe it? Think about some of the kids who came to your door yesterday on Halloween.

Some obviously knew they were dressed up, but I’m willing to bet you could pick out the few who were absolutely convinced they were really the character of their disguise.

I find myself using the same acting technique as I try to develop three new novels, all at the same time. They’re a handful, each with a different story-line, but it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

I spend a lot of time in thought, but when I actually sit down to write, I’m merely getting into character, and it’s just like little Timmy down the street putting on his skeleton costume. I become the character, and let them tell me what they want to do.

When I’m not focused on a specific writing task my actions may be quiet, but my mind is hardly idle. It still spends all day rummaging through old thoughts, assorted memories and current information, putting them all together as new ideas.

We all do it, all the time.

Unfortunately, we allow ourselves to believe such unfocused effort is somehow unsuccessful. We berate ourselves, when the truth is most people spend a lot of their time in this state of “unfocus.”

Humans daydream a lot.

It doesn’t make us slackers; it makes us human.

Harness Your Daydreams
What if we stopped judging ourselves for our mental downtime and, instead, started harnessing it? By giving yourself permission to do something you usually feel guilty about, you may actually be making your fiction more creative.

Try it the next time you sit down to write. Don’t stop daydreaming; become the character. I’m fairly certain you’ll surprise yourself, and finding yourself in an entirely new identity will feel so productive.

* * * * *

My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 Book-of-the-Year Finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

* * * * *

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Getting & Staying Creative

April 23, 2018


Atlanta Symphony guest conductor Donald Runnicles (Photo by Jeff Roffman)

You may find it hard to believe, but I’ve discovered the best remedy for overcoming those moments of author terror known as writer’s block. It’s called working on multiple projects at once, and it works.

It keeps my creative juices flowing.

If you’ve tried it but, like a lot pf people, struggle with simultaneous creative efforts, here are some keys that could help:

Get the right tools
I use specific programs when I write, but what they are is irrelevant. Instead of listing things you may not like, here’s my challenge to you – if you want to be a professional, act like one.

Start by investing in yourself. Don’t let another day go by without getting your hands on whatever tools help you focus on ideas … and stop struggling just to capture them.

Find natural places to pause
At any given moment I’m working on fiction books, blog posts, and how-to articles for my online column. But I’ve discovered I often need a bit of closure on one before I can switch gears.

That’s why I complete a rough draft of this blog or one of my column articles, or get to the end of a chapter with my fiction, before I stop one project for another. Finding that natural stopping place really makes a difference when I pick it up later.

Know what time of day you’re at your creative peak
When you understand how your own internal clock works, you can better prioritize your projects. For instance, fiction books and long blog posts are the most challenging for me, so I work on them in the morning when I’m at my creative best.

I find short, factual articles for my online column are a bit easier, so I can do them in the afternoon or evenings.

From time to time, I’ll have an unexpected creative burst that changes some of that timeline, but I never forget real creativity isn’t about inspiration, it’s about routine.

Create a “parking lot” for your ideas
Managing multiple projects isn’t as difficult as you think. In fact, it could be one of your greatest techniques. I find managing multiple creative projects often means that, as I work on one, ideas for another will suddenly pop into my head.

That alone scares some creatives and causes them to feel they have to stick to a single project, so they don’t lose those ideas.

But the solution is simple – I create an “idea file” where wild, out of context, or momentarily unworkable ideas can be recorded, so they’ll be handy to work with later.

Never forget that ideas are the most fragile things in the world. Sadly, I can speak from experience. If you don’t write them down, you’ll likely lose them forever.

Keep the momentum going
Multiple projects can help keep your momentum going. Cross-pollination can often add depth and new insight to your projects, and help you avoid the feeling you’re never going to finish. Daily momentum is easier to maintain than sporadic progress.

Most people tend to be overly optimistic about what they’ll actually get done in a day. They assume more time will equal more progress. In truth, you’ll still have the same peak creative hours regardless of how much time you’ve allocated.

Many long-term projects need as much downtime for reflection as they do time spent in active development. That’s because our minds have a way of working out one problem subconsciously while we’re working on another project.

So, go ahead and tackle those multiple ideas. Just remember to be as creative with your time as you strive to be with your words.

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Gentle Readers, my own books have garnered some terrific reviews. In fact, my novel REICHOLD STREET just received another award.

You can see all my books by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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On March 1, 2018, Rochester Media started publishing my articles about writing. The column will update twice a month. Come on over, take a look, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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On Sunday, April 29, 2018, from 11:00am to 5:00pm, I will be with a host of other local area writers at the Books & Authors book-signing event at the eclectic Leon & Lulu store on Fourteen Mile Road in Clawson, Michigan. Drop in and buy a book…there will be lots to choose from.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


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