author problems

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File Under: “Author Mom Problems”

Published July 21, 2017 by authorbebedora

Me: Monkey, I’m going to try and work for a while, so quietly play your game, alright?

Kid: Sure, Mom. (45 seconds later) Hey, Mom? How many license points does Vaan need to…

Me: Monkey! I said quietly! Please don’t talk to me, ok? I really want to get something done.

Kid: Ok, Mom. (45 seconds later.) So, who do you have as your party leader? Basch or Fran?

Me: *facepalm* It’s a matter of personal preference, ok? So, PLEASE stop asking me questions.

Kid: You got it, Mom. (a minute later) So, do you think I should spend my LP on HP upgrades or…

Me: (internally screaming)

 

And now, he’s in the basement wailing on his drums.  He got a new splash cymbal yesterday.  Coupled with a double-bass pedal, I can only say that it’s loud.  VERY LOUD.  Looks like my work will have to wait…

 

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.

 

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!]]

The Price of Imagination

Published January 10, 2016 by authorbebedora

Midnight.

A time where most people are asleep, their minds drifting in and out of blissful dreams.

But, to authors, it’s better known as the time when their imaginations go into overdrive and keep them awake.

It’s not always a bad thing, but it sure is irritating when you’ve had a very long day with a hyperactive seven-year-old and want some good old fashioned pillow time.

We’re all plagued by it.  My husband is a budding screenwriter.  At least once a week, he wakes up in the middle of the night (sometimes I notice, sometimes I don’t) to write down an idea. We understand each other completely when the other one flips off the covers at ass o’clock and tiptoes into the kitchen to write in darkness.

We both get ideas in the shower, and frantically scramble (sometimes soaking wet) out of the bathroom to scribble the plot point on a note card.  I keep a small notebook in my purse to write down ideas that come to me while driving.  Don’t worry, I only write at stop lights.

Last night, at 12:47 a.m. (yes, I know the exact time), I scurried out of bed with an idea so fantastic I couldn’t write fast enough.  Thankfully, my handwriting was decipherable this morning.

The only problem with said idea is that it completely changes a giant portion of the plot of my book.

But you know what?  I’m not mad.  I’m not disappointed that I have to scrap the chapters I already have written.  I’m not frazzled by the prospect of starting over.  I’m not pissed that my male protagonist has had his life path turned upside-down and completely.

Because these few late-night ideas are incredible.

I’m confident I can salvage a lot of what I already have in my first couple chapters and prologue and re-use it in other situations.  “Scrap it, like in Fallout 4”, my son says.  (Proud nerd mama moment right there, by the way.)

It’s all good.  Sometimes you have to take a few steps backwards to move forward.

And forward I go…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMG Can I just come up with a damn name…or ten?

Published August 12, 2015 by authorbebedora

The heroine in my novel does not have a name.

Neither does the male protagonist, for that matter.  The cities have no names.  The bad guys have no names.

NOTHING HAS A FUCKING NAME.

My outline goes something like this:  “[heroine] does this”  “[scholar] does that.” “[heroine and scholar] enter [unnamed town]”  Blah, blah, blah.  Add in the multi-colored highlights signifying various details in my crazy brain, and it looks like a rainbow threw up on my computer screen.

The only thing I hate more than trying to come with names for characters, is trying to think of titles.

When I was writing fanfic, it was even more hurried, because I had to think of a title before I could post the first chapter.  Thanks to some great friends with quick minds, I’ve been able to have some pretty great names for stories.  (Looking at you, SaberWing and QuietRaine…)  At least this time around, I don’t even have to worry about a title if I don’t want to–until the very end.

Characters, on the other hand, need names like, yesterday.  I know that I can’t start writing and then go back and replace every instance of [heroine] or [scholar] with the names I decide on.  I mean, I could, but that would be the biggest pain in the ass.  And let’s face it, I’m just way to fucking lazy to have to do it anyway.

My son has suggested a few names for my heroine.  “Pizza.”  “Dumb-face.”  “Stinky Butt.”  While they are, admittedly, awesome names, they’re really not the feel I’m going for.  He was bummed when I politely told him I would not be using his ideas.

I guess my problem is that I don’t want the names to sound too “normal.”  After all, this story is a fantasy novel, set in another world.  The characters can’t have names like “Chuck” and “Bertha.”  I know there’s name generating websites out there, I’ve utilized them for my Star Trek fanfic in the past.  But I would really like to be able to come up with the names myself.

Right now, my novel is still in the planning and outline stage, and will be for some time.  I’ve given myself an ultimatum that before my kid goes back to school, my characters WILL have names.  That’s 20 days…not that I’m counting.  (This Mama loves spending summers with her boy, but it’s time for school to start.  NOW.)

Until then, [heroine] and [scholar] will just have to suffice.