Tag Archives: novel

Beat writer’s Blues in 3 steps

Beat writer’s blues in 3 simple steps.

Writer’s blues is inevitable. We’ve all been there, dissatisfied over the snail-like progress of a project, the persistence of writer’s block or doubts about our competence. However with just three steps designed to change the way in which you look at yourself as a writer and your work, you can begin to say farewell to writer’s blues.

Create a mission statement

Just as a company or a school has a mission statement, write one for who you are as a writer. A mission statement is a set of values and objects which tie into one another in order to achieve a particular goal. Your mission statement might look something like this:

I am a Science Fiction writer working on a standalone novel. My aim is to create an in-depth novel with compelling characters and I will achieve this by attending a writer’s workshop and enlisting beta readers during the process. In order to maintain my artistic licence, I will not pressurise myself with deadlines and will work towards an overall attitude to enjoy the organic writing process, however long it may take.

A blogger’s statement may sound a little different:

I am a food blogger who contributes to a lifestyle blog. My aim is to create twice monthly articles on my experiences with food and I will achieve this by frequenting at least two food festivals or markets monthly and taking snapshots alongside notes, adding them to a log. In order to achieve this goal, I will select my content from these logs and upload my articles on the first and third weeks of each month respectively.

See? Each person’s mission statement will look different and writers need to know this. If every writer was privy to this and created their own mission statement, we might be able to write off Writer’s Blues altogether. Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to perform to invisible standards that nobody has of us, we could actually create our own reasonable standards.

Now what might those standards look like I hear you say? My answer is that they need to be both realistic and conducive to your wellbeing. Don’t burn the candle at both ends trying to create a mini-series or thrice weekly blog articles because not only will they burn you out, but consequently your content might also suffer. Instead, evaluate what works best for you, put it in writing and then act on it.

Trust the process (Fiction Writers)

Cast your mind back to a time when CD’s were the most popular format and think about how often some of the most successful music artists used to put out albums. It was about every 2-3 years. Some highly acclaimed artists would have gaps between albums far longer than that but nobody would complain. Want to know why? Because the value placed on their work superseded the need for a quick cheap thrill of a mediocre album from them.

Depending on your genre, the same goes for fiction writers. Lavish over your project, give it that extra time it needs and don’t yield to the pressure of getting it out there for the sake of it.

There’s something romantic and quaint about stepping into that role of writer. Of needing an endless supply of tea or coffee to keep you going, of staring into space in the middle of the day, concocting a scene or that next storyline, pyjama days the list goes on… bask in it all! It’s a beautiful process.

Allow yourself to get lost in other content, guilt free

I am definitely guilty of this. I am a writer and a bookworm but there’s always a battle because whenever I get tucked into a book, at the back of my mind every now and then, a little voice will say, shouldn’t you be writing? Ignore it! Your interests fuel your passion so perusing other content might give you that inspiration or boost that you need once you’re back in the writing seat but don’t feel like you have to choose one or the other. There’s a time for both and both are definitely beneficial.  

Say no to writer’s block

Seriously, I mean it. In my article 5 Actions for Writer’s Block I urge readers to reject it completely. By this I mean, if the ideas aren’t coming, put that pen or laptop away and take it out another day. Give your mind the opportunity to generate ideas organically by stepping away for a day, a week, a month. Moreover, don’t be pressurised into performing. It’s this feeling that is at the crux of writer’s blues. Reject it and come back when writing actually feels good again.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful in helping you beat writer’s blues when it rears it’s ugly head. Let me know in the comments whether which of the above steps you would consider using and whether you think a mission statement would help you out!

Is there ever an ideal place to read?

I had a pang of bookworm withdrawal and wanted to find a place to read when I made a visit to the Sussex coast of Brighton last week. The British weather was abundantly generous at 22 degrees, so you can say it was at its absolute best. And the fish and chips were on point- I personally cannot go to the seaside without having fish and chips! I had the quintessentially British seaside experience minus purchasing seaside rock. I don’t really do sweets anymore, especially the type that stick to my teeth. As a child the downside to going to Brighton used to be that the beach largely contained pebbles instead of sand. Last week I remembered why that detail irked me so much- they’re agony to walk on! Especially when your feet are half numbed by the freezing sea. Funnily enough, hot coals came to mind as I struggled back up the incline away from the tide.

The desire to read could spring up anywhere

As I returned to our spot, on the uncomfortable pebbles, I had a pang of book lust. Despite the thousands of other visitors, all packed around me like sardines on the beach and the pebbles indenting my behind, I suddenly craved a nice read. Of course, it was hardly the time or place for it and the idea flounced out of my head as quick as it came. This leads me to ask the question, where is the best place to read a book?

A beach would seem an ideal place for a bookworm to devour a juicy read but the chances of that go down when the circumstances are like those I just described. Replace pebbles with sand, make the beach slightly more remote- but with a resort behind it for those all-inclusive cocktails and then we’re talking bookworm real-estate!

It’s variables that make a good reading space not a specific location

Of course, there are more obvious locations for reading, like duh- the library. This however, would depend on how yours is equipped. Libraries can be beautiful grand places that you can get lost in with twists and turns and winding staircases, I think I may be venturing into the world of bookworm porn here. When you find a library like the one I’ve just described, it’s easy to spend ages roaming the aisles to find a book and then spend hours getting lost in it. On the contrary, there are those libraries which leave a lot to be desired and leave you itching to get your book and leave.

Which leads me to my next consideration for reading – in transit. Whether on the daily commute or en route to a getaway via plane, reading while travelling can be a way to mute the activity around you and immerse yourself in a world of your choice. Of course, this is dependent on the quality of your carriage. For example, the London commute on a packed tube train confronted by the stench of underarm and looking up into somebody’s crotch when trying to decipher which station you’re at isn’t quite as relaxing as downtime on a long-haul flight. If you’re going to be pedantic about it like I am you could say that it’s not about where you read but about the variables and conditions of that place at the time. A beach could be idyllic but not if, as I described earlier, the features of it don’t necessarily permit comfort. Unwittingly, a long wait at an airport could provide relief to an individual experiencing book withdrawal.

If we must be specific and I do think it’s necessary, my ideal place to read would be on a warm summer’s Friday night. It would be in a freshly laundered bed, in equally laundered nightclothes with a juicy Literary Fiction novel. Oh, and I would be wrapped around that book like a lover so it has to be a paperback.

What is your ideal reading space? Leave a comment below!

I Rarely Look for Inspiration in the Middle of a Fiction Project. Here’s Why…

As a writer, inspiration is something that I don’t often look for. I know it sounds strange as us writerly people are known for digging and delving through the crevices of life to find hidden gems that serve as inspiration. I, on the other hand allow inspiration to come to me in spontaneous form. I let my ideas flow at whatever ungodly time that they pop up and then capture them. Remember the BFG? Rahl Dahl’s giant who was also a dream catcher? He used a net to catch good and bad dreams to put into bottles and store in his cupboard. As an author I take a similar approach because forcing myself to conjure up ideas just highlights the fact that writer’s block is around the corner. Instead when my ideas and inspirations pop up, I take note and capture them.

Never Let an Idea Go!

It’s really important to never let an idea go as a writer. Many of us can attest to scribbling on receipts in the supermarket when our phone battery has died. Better yet, miraculously holding that idea in your head before you reach home looking vacant, mumbling to yourself and dodging conversations with others in the process so as not to drop your genius idea. I have been known to spend the wee hours of the morning writing illegible notes on my phone’s notepad when I should be sleeping. Worse still, when the notepad ran out of space, I made notes in the form of text message and sent them so that they would be saved – maybe that’s just my dramatic #writerslife, however you get my drift. Writers do crazy s**t to hold or retain ideas in our heads when pens aren’t near!

That spontaneous eureka moment of inspiration

One of the upsides to not looking for inspiration is the feeling you get when it appears. That magical eureka moment releases some serious endorphins and that feeling never gets old. A few recent instances stand out in my mind. Take for instance a period of writer’s block that came about a few months ago. It was regarding the main character of my upcoming novel and a male love interest. I wanted them to go on a date but the thought of conjuring up a samey restaurant scene- which I knew was needed- left me feeling really uninspired. I deliberated about the scene and even started to dread writing it which made me postpone working on the project altogether. I didn’t want to move forward without having written it because it was pivotal but I was also too uninspired to write it. The break I took enabled me to work on other projects in the meanwhile and though this may sound cliché, I allowed myself to trust the process. I didn’t know when I would feel inspired to press on with the scene without deeming it a chore but I didn’t allow myself to ponder on it.

Inspiration Will Always Come and When it Does, it Feels Great!

When the idea did eventually come, it was instant. I found myself looking out of the windows of a vehicle as it crawled through traffic one day and the road happened to be one lined with restaurants, most prominently South Asian restaurants. A lover of this type of cuisine, rich curry dishes in cartons began to spring to mind. Did I fancy a take-away curry that night? Nope. My main character and her man did though! Out of nothing, a hiccup in the construction of my novel was remedied without me once ever having to suffer the ails of writer’s block.

This recently happened again when my main character was returning home to get on with some errands whilst considering major life choices. I wanted to document her journey home from the address that she had previously been staying at but couldn’t think of anything other than a monotonous description of her walking through the street, holding her bags and possibly catching a train or bus. Then one day the idea of her bumping into someone significant came to me and I decided to zoom in on the details of their interaction opposed to her journey home, the prospect of which, even bored me to oblivion.

I make it a thing to grasp at ideas that pop into my head IN THE MOMENT during a work in progress. Never take it for granted- being a human being, you might actually forget it and that could be disastrous for progress. So, unleash your inner BFG and capture those ideas and treat them like the magic they are.