How to Take on Writer’s Block like a Pro

Posted by: Emily Wenstrom  :  Category: Writer's Block

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I’ve worked in marketing for five years, and one thing you learn very quickly is that business doesn’t stop just because your muse doesn’t show up.

When an idea is required, one way or another, you create one. It’s got nothing to do with innate talent. Marketing professionals are no more creative than anyone else, they’ve just learned tricks of the trade to help them work through creative blocks.

How do creative professionals keep their creativity flowing in the face of tight deadlines, burnout and Monday mornings? Here are five tactics I’ve adopted from my marketing experience to keep my WIP moving forward even when I feel drained:

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Can Things Get Any Worse? Hopefully!

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Story Structure, Write a Novel

Okay, I’m facing my fear of the blank page, and writing. Sort of. Rather, I’m outlining. It’s a prelim to writing. You know, planning to write. Planning is great. No actual writing need happen, which is perfect if you’re me and scared that your actual writing will read like so much steamy crap on a summer day.

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What Kind of Writer Are You?

Posted by: Janice Hardy  :  Category: Write a Novel

After reading that title, you likely had some kind of answer. Most would probably reply with the genre they write. A fantasy writer, a fiction writer, an outliner, a pantser. When folks ask me that question, I say “I write fantasy for teens.”

But deep down, it’s more than that.
Earlier this year at the 2010 RWA Conference, I had an eye-opening experience. I sat in on a session about theme with English professor and literary critic Sarah Frantz, and romance author Suzanne Brockmann.

They utterly blew me away with their thoughts on theme (that’s a whole different post), but one thing that really resonated with me was when the author said she had a career theme.

A career theme? Whoa. What was that?

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Your Next Scene: Right Before Your Eyes?

Posted by: Melissa Crytzer Fry  :  Category: Story Structure

When friends invited me (and hubby) boating on Apache Lake in Roosevelt, Arizona, my No. 1 goal was to kick back and relax. I certainly didn’t set out to write a scene for my novel.

But that’s not what Mother Nature had in mind.

And, let’s face it … a writer is always on the clock, right? Observing … watching … thinking … It’s not like you can turn the writerly instincts off.

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How To Write a Novel the Hard Way

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Write a Novel

I’ve read almost a 100 books on how to write a novel the easy way. Or at least, they claim to give me all the steps I need to just “do it.”

Well, I’ve been “doing” for 5 years now and have gotten my fits all tangled up with my starts.

But I just had my 48th birthday, and after drinking a second glass of REALLY expensive wine ($16.99 at Safeway) I remembered that at one time I’d made a promise to myself that for my 50th birthday I was going to rent a motor home and drive across the U.S. signing copies of my first novel at all the Border’s and Barnes and Nobles I could find.

That novel would be the one I’m still working on.  Okay, confession time, this is the 3rd novel I’ve started. The other two are in pieces, stuffed in the back of the kid’s backpack cabinet under stacks of crumbled construction paper and (I think) an old lunch box that I’m too scared to open.

So what is this post about?

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Creating Believable Characters – With the Enneagram

Posted by: Melissa Crytzer Fry  :  Category: Characters

I’ll be the first to admit that I had never even heard the term “Enneagram” when I started writing my novel. And I admit that when I queried a bookstore clerk about it, I stupidly asked if they had any books on anagrams (You know, words or phrases that can be created by rearranging the same group of letters. I knew that! Really, I didn’t mean to say anagram!).

The Enneagram Personality System is essentially a model for understanding the human personality. I learned about it when writing coach, Gloria Kempton, mentioned in one of her writing workshops that I attended. 

Gloria indicated that it could be a good tool for creating believable characters.

And she was right!

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Critique vs. Criticism: Where is the Line?

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Critique Groups

This post is about critiquing other people’s work without causing too much emotional damage. I am a firm believer in critique groups, not just to get feedback on your own work, but to give feedback. There’s an old saying that the teacher learns more than the student and this couldn’t be truer for writers.

When we look at another person’s writing, we are also looking at our work. So how to keep from damaging either one?

My mentor, Gloria Kempton, is a very successful teacher, and one of the best critiquers of a writer’s work that I’ve ever met. She has the magic touch. It’s the main reason I’ve been in her “Finish Your Novel” workshop for 5 years. I credit my growth as a writer to persistence, but I doubt I would be quite as tenacious if it wasn’t for Gloria’s forthright and tangible writing advice.

Here are Gloria’s tips on how to give good crit, and make your own story better in the process.

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A Strong Synopsis: Reduce the Time it Takes to Write a First Draft

Posted by: Lia Keyes  :  Category: Synopsis Writing

After spending the last five years writing my first novel, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’d figured out how to write a synopsis sooner rather than later I could have cut that time in half.

If you figure out whether the story holds water before you begin to write, you can save so much heartache. I agonized over every story decision I had to make.

I couldn’t keep the story in my head because it was so jumbled.

Once I had a synopsis, I could see at a glance what needed to happen next. But as a new writer, figuring out how to write a synopsis was hard!  Just throwing myself into the writing of the pages and seeing where they took me was a lot more appealing, but I always ground to a halt after a few chapters because I didn’t know how to proceed.

If I hadn’t learned how to write a synopsis with Mary Buckham, author of  BREAK INTO FICTION (Adams Media, 2009), I would still be floundering. Mary and her co-author Dianna Love have designed a method of finding the essence of your story via a series of templates. By answering the templates’ questions I learned to harness the wild horse of story, and in my answers, as if by magic, appeared all its salient parts.

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The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide…and Me

Posted by: Claudine Rogers  :  Category: Critique Groups

I realized I needed a critique group soon after my first attempt at writing a novel. I process things best by bouncing ideas off of others and I needed the help of wiser, less emotionally attached writers to perfect my far-from-perfect WIP. But I was also getting pretty lonesome all by myself at the keyboard.  I needed that social interaction. Thus, my first foray into critique groups.

Thanks to my first group, I knew immediately when something wasn’t working, but they were unable to help me figure out why.  So I quit that group and joined another. The second group of perfectly nice people still didn’t fill the bill. I was afraid I’d never find a group that fit, or worse, that I wasn’t cut out for group critiques. Until…

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Get Tense in Your Writing without Getting Tense

Posted by: Birgitte  :  Category: Story Structure

Many writers struggle with the appropriate and consistent use of verb tense.

Not tension, that’s a whole different struggle. “Tense” refers to the linguistic time associated with the verb action in your story. Okay, you’re right, that sentence confused even me. So, let’s break it down by looking at the three most common tenses and how they are used. Click here. It won’t hurt. I’m not your English 101 prof.

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