Overcoming “The Block.”

Published April 28, 2017 by authorbebedora

writers-block 2

 

There hasn’t been an author in history that hasn’t fallen victim to IT at one point or another.  Sometimes it only lasts for a few hours, sometimes it’s months.  I’m talking about the dreaded…

…WRITER’S BLOCK.

We’ve all been there, most likely more times that we’d care to admit.  “The Block” can come in many forms.  Words that just won’t come.  A brain that won’t relinquish the great ideas you *just know* are in there.  Headaches.  Exhaustion.  Tantrums.

Whatever form your block takes, it can be crippling–and downright depressing.

My worst case of the block came about two years ago.  I had decided (like a crazy person) to undertake two multi-chapter Star Trek AOS fanfics at once.  It started well, and I was able to switch back and forth between each seamlessly.  I made regular updates on each story, much to the delight of my readers.  But then the beast appeared.

THE BLOCK.

I had completed the first of the two, having neglected the latter piece because I could feel the block creeping up on me.  When it came time to work in earnest on the second fic, the block ate me alive.  I think it was a mixture of being burnt out from undertaking two stories at once and juggling stay-at-home-mom life.  I would stare at my screen, cursing James T. Kirk and the goddamn Enterprise with every fiber of my being.

I knew something had to change.

So I stepped back, something I had been telling my beta clients to do for years.  For six months, yes SIX MONTHS, I let the piece in question sit.  I didn’t look at it.  I didn’t think about it.  It was dead to me.

Now, I’m a woman of my word.  I promised my readers–and myself–that I would finish it.  And I intended to.  But, if it were to be quality work, I knew I needed to give it some space.  And you know what?  One day, I opened the current chapter back up and finished the story without another hiccup.

Then, last month, the beast crept up on me again.  I had completed my first novel, and was waiting for edits to start coming back.  I decided that it was a great time to start on the second book of my trilogy, since the characters and plot were still very fresh in my mind.  My outline had been completed for months, and I  thought I’d just fall right into it with ease.  Boy, was I wrong.

The tone of my second book is decidedly very different, and the characters are in much stranger places in their lives than ever before.  I completed about a quarter of the first chapter, and then…NOTHING.  I stared at that puny little blurb of a chapter for a good week.  I began to hate it.  It made me angry.  The frustration gave me headaches.

So, I took my own advice yet again and walked away.  I wrote super angsty, brooding, gory fanfic.  I played video games.  I went to a few baseball games.  I watched SO MUCH TWIN PEAKS.  And you know what?  After two weeks, I opened up the outline, added a few things and was back in business.  Just like that.  No ease-in…it just happened.

People often ask me, “What’s the best cure for writer’s block?”  So, here are my tips for surviving that-which-terrifies-authors.  (Not as much as query letter writing terrifies us, but pretty damn close.  *shudders*)

  •  STEP AWAY.   This is the absolute most important piece of advice I can give.  The more you force yourself to look at and/or work on your piece, the worse the block is going to become.  When you’ve been staring at the same thing for days…or weeks…with nothing flowing, your brain becomes bogged down.  You exhaust your creativity.  Your mind becomes jumbled with both doubt and frustration.  The words you might end up creating while forcing it will more than likely turn out to be garbage.  I’ve been there…and seen it happen to fellow authors.  The block can consume you, and turn you into a self-doubting zombie.  Take a few hours, a couple days…hell, even months.  Remember, I took a SIX MONTH hiatus from a fanfiction piece.  Whatever you do, don’t go back to your work-in-progress until you’ve taken some time away from it.  You’ll be glad you did…and regret it if you don’t.

 

  •  WRITE SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.    I find that when I’m blocked, I naturally fall back into fanfiction.  (When I was writing fic, I would blog when I was stuck.)  A change of literary scenery can sometimes be all you need to get the creative juices flowing again.  If you have a blog, write some new posts.  Make your subject matter about something completely different than what’s blocking you at the moment.  Write a poem.  Write fanfic.  (If you’ve never written fic before, give it a try!  Find a movie/TV show/video game that you love and give the characters a new story to play around in!)  My last bout of the block came when Final Fantasy XV had taken over pretty much everything in our house.  The stories came easy–and so very, VERY angsty–and it was just the distraction I needed to let my mind recover a bit to be able to get back into my novel mindset.  (Poor Ignis…)

 

  •  LET A TRUSTED PERSON SEE WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN SO FAR.    Sometimes, all you need is a second set of eyes to give you a new perspective.  Now, I know that letting someone else see your work isn’t always an option.  Some people are protective of their pieces, whether it be for plot reasons or nerve reasons.  But if you have someone you trust and value their opinion, let them look.  Which brings me to my last point…

 

  •  BRAINSTORM  WITH SAID TRUSTED PERSON.  Like I said above, sometimes a new pair of eyes looking will give you just the motivation you need to light a fire under your ass.  When you’ve been staring at the same content for so long, writing about the same subjects for what seems like forever, everything starts to meld together.  You may have an issue with a plot point that just won’t come together, a character that refuses to cooperate.  Continuity errors and flow issues might not be easy to spot.  If there is someone you trust to give valued critique/suggestions, go to them.  Yes, you might not always like or agree with their ideas, but it gets your mojo working again.  Your gears start to turn once more, and you may find yourself cranking out chapters like wildfire again before you know it.

 

Writer’s block sneaks up on us all.  It’s a bitch.  It’s relentless.  It’s mean-spirited and rude.  But it doesn’t have to be the end of you or your work.  Hopefully, some of what I’ve offered can help someone, somewhere.  At the end of the day, no matter how long it takes and no matter what means you employ to make it happen–I promise the block WILL go away.

And when it does, you’ll be back to your old awesome self once more.

 

Advertisements

Motivation, schmotivation…

Published April 23, 2017 by authorbebedora

For the last month-or-so, I’ve been struggling with finding the mojo and motivation to start writing my second book in earnest. I had completed about a quarter of the first chapter and then hit a wall.

I tried everything to get my spark back. Took a break from the novel. Wrote a few fanfic pieces. Watched A LOT of Twin Peaks. A few days ago, I opened the chapter again, and NOTHING.

Today, with both husband and boy playing video games on different levels of the house, I decided to tempt fate and try again.

Twenty minutes later, the outline has been fleshed out even more and I think I’m ready to jump again. Granted, it’s only twenty minutes of work, but when I haven’t made that much progress on this series in over a month–I’ll take it.

I’m going to reiterate advice that I give a lot to my beta clients (and friends!): If you’re blocked, if you’re finding your motivation gone and your drive to write waning: STEP AWAY. Maybe it’s just for a few days, maybe it’s a month or two. (I even took a six-month hiatus from a fanfiction piece years back.) It really, truly does work.

[[Oh, and a note about this poor, ignored blog:  These last four-ish months have been a rough go and I haven’t felt much like blogging.  You can thank the political situation of our country for most of that strife.  But, I’m back now…with a book at the editor and another started, so here we go!]]

A New Year…

Published January 1, 2017 by authorbebedora

2016 sucked ass, plain and simple.

Yes, a few good things happened like me finishing my first draft, my brother getting  married and friends having babies, but other than that, it sucked gargantuan, nasty donkey balls.

Some things happened in the public eye, like he-who-isn’t-worth-my-breath being elected to run our nation and way more beloved celebrities being taken than should have been allowed by the Universe.  There was hatred, terror attacks, and election year that belonged in the circus or on the cover of a satire magazine rather than on the front pages and news channels.

Some things also happened in my private life, and those who know about it know about it, and those who don’t, don’t.  Life happens, and you deal with it as it comes at you. Some times you do really well and feel like an adult afterwards, and sometimes no matter how hard you try, shit just doesn’t go your way and you say, “Fuck it, I don’t have time for drama.”

So now what?  2017 should be better, right?  RIGHT?

We can only hope.  The political situation in our nation is terrifying at best, but there’s nothing we can do about it now.  My wish for 2017 is that those in power stop being whiny toddlers and cease their stupid twitter tirades about nonsense, and begin acting like the elected officials they are.  Look at the big picture in front of you and run our own country (and not into the ground, mind you), not help other people better their own nations for your personal gain. (I’m looking at you, Cheeto.)  Let’s hope that 2017 is kind to the people we love, and not just the celebrities that hold special places in our hearts.  Let’s hope that the world becomes a safer place for everyone, and that people learn to be more tolerant of others.  Just because someone doesn’t belong to your religion or you don’t happen to agree with their lifestyles doesn’t give you the right to wage war, both physical and psychological, on them.  In plain terms, don’t be a dick this year.

As for little old me, I’m confident 2017 will see my first novel published.  I’m halfway done with my complete edit, and when that’s finished I’ll implement my changes and send it both my trusted editor and my husband.  When those come back, I’ll make the necessary additions once more and craft a final manuscript.  Then comes the query letters, the waiting and more than likely, the rejection letters.  But, there’s gotta be an agent out there somewhere that’ll like what I’ve created and want to publish it.

I’m not going to let last year’s awfulness stand in the way of what could be a great new year.  Yes, there are a lot of things impending in 2017 that are scary, uncertain and downright terrifying to a lot of people, me included.  But at the end of the day, all we can do is carry on.

Here’s to 2017.

 

It Is Done.

Published December 7, 2016 by authorbebedora

Last night, December 6th at 8:50 pm, I wrote the last line of my first novel.

I typed my final word, saved my document and just stared at the screen.  A few seconds later, I poked my husband to get his attention and pointed at my laptop without saying a word.  He knew what had just happened.  He smiled and pulled me in for a big hug.  Then, I cried.

After a year and a month of work on this thing, the first draft is in the bag.  Twenty-five days ahead of schedule and everything!  It feels kind of surreal.  I’ve been living with this thing in one capacity or another for over a year.  Yes, I know that I’m nowhere near complete with what will become the finished product, but it’s strange to think that this chapter (pun intended) of this journey has come to a close.

I’ve seen this story morph, take left turns and send me reeling.  The core idea of what it was intended to be is still there, along with three of the characters–but so much has changed since that first kernel of an idea that looking  back, it’s hard to imagine the first drafted outline ever becoming a novel.

I’m SO GLAD I changed my mind about the plot and my main character’s chosen occupation.

So, now what?  I printed out the last few chapters of the hard copy this morning.  I hole-punched them and relegated them to their binders with the other chapters.  I told myself I needed to wait one week until I even dared to look at them.  Time to breathe a sigh of relief, time to take a little break.  I needed to get away from the story completely, so I could begin the editing process with fresh eyes.

When my son was off from school over the summer, I edited the first twenty-ish chapters in my hard copy.  (There was no way I was going to get any productive writing done with Mr. Jabber-pants at my side for three months!)  During that time, I added some key plot points and scenes.  Even with those chapters already “looked at” once, they’ll still need attention.  My plan is, after my week hiatus, to take my hard copy and red pen and edit.  After that is complete, I’ll let it sit for another week.  That’ll get me to XMAS-time, so it’s perfect.  After the holidays are done and my kid is back in school, I’ll do one more edit.  Then, I’ll implement all the changes and add the new scenes to a new manuscript file.  Up until this point, I’ve always written each chapter in a separate document.  In talking to author friends, it seems to be a fifty-fifty mix of preference when it comes to what do in that regard.  Some do one whole document with the entire kit and caboodle, some do separate chapters.  I’m still not sure which route I’ll take.

When all the changes are in the second draft, I’ll let my husband and beta editor read it.  After I get the changes from my beta, I’ll do the third draft.  Then…

Well?  The next step approaches.

Looking into publishing options is something I’ve thought of, but never really put too much effort into up until this point.  My main goal was to finish the damn thing first, then think about what to do next.  I have a friend who has published a book, so I plan to pick her brain (over pub food and a beer) on what to do next.

As I close this chapter of the journey with my first novel, I turn another page and move on to the next scene.  Massive editing.  Cover art.  Publishing.  Success!  (cross your fingers!)

And then, I have to write two more…

Deadlines, schmedlines…

Published December 4, 2016 by authorbebedora

December 31st.

That’s in twenty-eight days, people.  Less than a month to complete the first draft of my novel.  I have (maybe) four chapters and an epilogue left to tackle.  I’m hopeful I can get them all written, but with the holidays and some other stuff going on, it’ll be a photo-finish for sure.  But, I’m up for a challenge any day.

I’ve never given myself a deadline before.  I was hesitant to do it this time around.  But, I realized that if I didn’t, I’d be piddling around on this thing forever with no end in sight.  I  needed something to work for, and once I set that date, it was game on.  There were times where I thought for sure I’d fail and miss the deadline.  (One of those times was just last week when the shit hit the fan in our family.)  But, we persevere, recover and take life by the horns and hang on for dear life.

I’m confident I’ll finish on time.  I’m excited (and terrified) to finish on time.  When it’s done, that means that there’s still a bazillion things left to do.  Edit.  Edit some more.  Edit again.  Send it to my beta.  Edit again.  Then–publish?  OMG I can’t even.  But I’m nothing if not determined.  Bring it on.

Twenty-eight days.

 

 

Big news!

Published November 21, 2016 by authorbebedora

title-plaque-2

 

Guess what has a title?

Also, guess who originally thought she had ten-ish chapters to go to complete the first draft of her book, but now probably only has five?

That’s right.  I’m one happy gal right about now.  And excited.  And nervous.  Time to take this year-end deadline by the horns and show it who’s boss.

The Journey To A Title

Published November 3, 2016 by authorbebedora

Anyone who has been following this journey  knows that titles are the absolute bane of my existence. I hate them. I hate them even more than clowns and the St. Louis Cardinals. (and I *HATE* the Cardinals.)

A month or so ago, I had tentatively proclaimed that I had potential titles. Then I second-guessed myself. I mean, the title is what readers see first, it’s what draws them in. (Well, that and awesome cover art, let’s face it.)

Well, today, I think I may have actually done it. You know, DECIDED. I’m giving myself a while to ruminate on it, as well as get some very trusted opinions, but…barring any unforeseen circumstances, I may just be slapping a name on this damn thing soon.

Cross your fingers.