The three best ways I get out of writing slumps

Writing Velocity

What’s the worst thing about the writing process?

Odds are you probably said writer’s block, because it sucks. Writer’s block – or as I like to call it, being in a “writing slump” (makes it seem less permanent) – can make even the best writers stare at their keyboard blankly.

Here are the three best ways that I get out of my writing slumps:

  1. Listen to music on the bus

This may be overly specific, but for me it works practically without fail!

Something about being on the bus with my headphones in always makes me contemplative. If I’m not crammed next to too many people, it’s a nice space to think about different plots, and just follow whatever thought process my music takes me on (image-heavy lyrics work well for me, especially Fall Out Boy!). It’s just me, my music and a bus window to watch the city rush…

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The Need to Write

eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for…

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Growing as a Writer: An Interesting Observation on First Drafts

Ron Writes Stuff

I believe with all my heart the most important thing about writing a novel is completing the first draft.

It’s just math. It doesn’t matter how great or original your idea is. A great, original idea != a book. It doesn’t matter how long your outline is. An outline != a book. You have to complete that first draft. A first draft is a book, albeit (for many of us) a bad book-but a book nonetheless. Or manuscript, if you prefer. Then you do a ton of editing to make it a good book, or even a great book. If you’d like to see it spelled out, here are some formulas (to keep the whole math theme going):

no first draft = no book

first draft = book

(first draft + editing) = second draft = better book

(second draft + A LOT of editing) = next draft = good…

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Moving Plots Around: Writing Excuses Exercise 10.13

Andrew Knighton writes

It’s that time of the week again, time to delve into the latest Writing Excuses writing exercise. If you’re not already familiar with these, Writing Excuses is an excellent podcast in which four pro genre authors discuss how to write, and I’ve learned more about writing from this show than from any other source.

This week’s exercise:

Take the reverse engineered outline from a month ago, and move a side plot to the main plot.

This is an interesting way to see how focusing on different plots affects the structure of a story. I have to confess, I made a slightly half-arsed job of that previous exercise, looking at the first five pages of a Transmetropolitan comic. Still, I can do this exercise, and maybe take it a little further than last time.

Back to the City

The plot I looked at was issue six of Warren Ellis and Darrick Robertson’s…

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some notes on process: the reading notebook

the stanza

An in-progress page of my reading notebook. An in-progress page of my reading notebook.

A reader recently asked if I’d consider writing a post about how I use my notebook. Since then, I’ve been paying closer attention to how I use my notebook — or notebooks actually — and the answer is: pathologically.

Because I have too many of them. So I’m going to break this up a bit. Today: my reading notebook (there is also my writing notebook, and notebooks for lists, orphan lines, craft, lexicon, and… some other stuff).

The reading and writing notebooks are the ones I would take if the house were burning down, though I would hate to lose the rest of them. Really hate. Oh… I can’t even think about that.

Longtime readers know that reading is crucial to my generative process. As I read, I circle and underline, check and star, make notes on the poem’s architecture. I jot down words…

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Divorcing the Writer From the Editor

William Drayman

I realize that the secret to a good blog is posting often, but circumstances at the moment dictate my writing time take a back seat to my children’s schooling requirements. I am writing from 9pm to 1am or so, and there is so much work to do with The Road Out that I simply cannot spare much time for blogging.

However, the holidays have started, so I have more time available for sitting in front of the keyboard right now.

So, I wanted to talk about what I have learned as regards editing. Not the mechanics per se, but the mental attitude that has to be donned to edit a book successfully. As you can discern by the title, the writer mindset does not get on well with the editing mentality.

The writer spends many an hour crafting a chapter to encapsulate beautiful prose. The creative juices flow and the…

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Promoting Book 1, Writing Book 2 and A One Star Review

Writer Babble

Blank notepad over laptop and coffee cup on office wooden table

Okay to start with I’m still having an awesome time floating around the sea of self publishing. It’s a wonderful place to be but has it’s ups and down like everything else we do in life.

First to promoting book 1. I’ve found some really good places to promote The Vanishing. Bknights, who came to me as a recommendation from other writers was great. The result was nice and again were a very easy place to do business with. Pixelscroll were just okay. I sold some but not a lot for the price I paid for them.
Overall though the book has been within the top 20 and top 50 in it’s categories which I’ve been incredibly happy about. The enigmatic Amazon algorithms Gods have picked it up and advertising it here and there.
I also did an Author interview with R J Madigan over on her blog. If you…

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MEET MY MUSE: Kylie Kaden


Kylie Kaden

MEET MY MUSE with Kylie Kaden

You know what? I’ve never been too sure what Muse is, exactly.

I’m not certain I’ve met her. It? Them? Or, for that matter, know how it might be channelled.

Now I get the verb version – to muse, or ponder over something. But they tell me it also comes as a noun. But from what I gather, it sounds like some sort of spiritual cloud that frolics around arty types as a source of inspiration, power and creativity.  A magical halo that wafts about feeding authors magnificent plots.

Well that just sounds like cheating to me.  But if there is an official Muse Facebook page I need to like to get regular feeds, my finger’s ready.  I can certainly do with some inspiration for book three right about now.

But yes, I am familiar with the concept – you suddenly get hit with…

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Writing That Scene: Scaramouche

A forum to engage in some free, online, constructive criticism of your own writing or the other people’s writings.

Andrea Lundgren

In the format of a non-traditional critique, Writing That Scene examines the fundamentals of what it takes to make a scene powerful and memorable for readers. The opinion expressed is my own, and other readers’ opinions may differ.

The goal is to provide a free opportunity for authors to learn from each other and to see their own “problem scenes” with fresh eyes. In my own experience, hearing what other writers and readers think of some of my own writing scenes has helped give me a fresh perspective, getting me thinking “What if…” and pointing out possibilities I hadn’t even considered.

If you are interested in sharing a scene of your own for a future post, click on the Writing that Scene Submission link. Or, you can suggest a scene from another writer’s work for us to analyze. To see last week’s scene, click here.

Author: Rafael Sabatini

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Art & Fear – An Exploration, Part II

valerie r lawson

It’s been one month since I last posted and that’s been due to me being sick for almost the entire month of December. Yes, I was inoculated against the flu. No, it didn’t prevent me from contracting it and then compounding said disease with a nasty sinus infection for good measure. I really should just buy stock in Sudafed and Kleenex.

Now that I’m able to be upright for most of the day without hacking my brains out or moaning incoherently, it’s time to get back to work and to the fascinating study of Art & Fear.

Let’s just consider the break my mid-season finale. I did leave you all on a bit of a cliff-hanger with Part I. So without further ado, here’s the conclusion.

To brush up on what we covered in Part I (or previously on Barbies on Fire), look no further than here.

Taming the…

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You Gotta Chip Away At It

The Hemlock Notations

Hello, Everyone! I hope you had a good National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as the hip kids are calling it). For those of you not aware: November is National Novel Writing Month, where people sit down and write a novel in a month. Breaking that down for you in pages 5 pages a day equals 150 pages, which is roughly 2,000-2,500 words a day. Anyway, if you participated then I hope it was a good experience for you.

So NaNoWriMo is the reason I didn’t post in November. Not that I was working on a novel (I had other things piling up on my plate), but because I figured everyone would be posting about writing and didn’t want to overload the Internet on literature. Also I didn’t want to contribute to the distractions of not writing. And again, the afore mentioned pile of stuff I had to get done.

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Words from the otherworld: Nick Cave and the creative well.


IMG_3118 I first fell in love with Nick Cave when I snuck into the Big Day Out as a teenager. I had never seen or heard of him before. I just happened to be in the front row when he stalked on the stage and blew me away with Red Right Hand. It was love as first sight. I have been obsessed with Nick Cave ever since. Not only his songs but also his films and writing. I loved his recent film 20,000 Days on Earth for so many reasons some of which include how personal it was, the bling, the shoes, the suits, how much Warren Ellis made me giggle, the bling, and how beautiful the cinematography was. (I do love Bath.) However, for me, there is a deeper connection. I would go so far as to consider Nick Cave one of my primary Muses. For me, this is a…

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