Today I have a very special guest blogger. You might remember her…the one and only Carlie M.A. Cullen author of Heart Search- Lost & her newest book in the trilogy Heart Search – Found!!(insert cheers here!)
I asked Carlie to give some advise on how to keep writing even when writers block tries to put a halt to a story. Or when life continues to throw things at you in an attempt to make you step away from writing. And most of all how to keep a positive outlook on your writing when these things are knocking at the door.
I’m often asked in interviews what advice I’d give to new writers and have waxed lyrical about the importance of reading voraciously, writing every day (even if it’s only a few lines), and how crucial it is to obtain the services of a good editor before you even get close to pushing the button on publishing. But sometimes that’s not what a new writer wants to read.
New Writers Guide to Combating Isolation and Dealing with Writers Block
Writing is a solitary and often lonely road. It’s not uncommon for people to feel isolated and begin to doubt the validity of their talent. What these people need is encouragement, people around them who know exactly how they feel – in short, a support network.
The simple answer is to join a writing group!
I actually run a writing group near my home in Essex, UK. The group varies in age and abilities, with some Indie/self-published authors and those who have no interest in publishing at all. However, everyone in the group is passionate about writing. Our meetings begin with a writing challenge to get the inspiration muscle working and then those who want to, can read out their work for the group to comment on. I always set a Flash Fiction challenge for people to do at home and we set monthly personal goals of what we’d like to achieve with our writing over the coming month. We are only accountable to ourselves in attaining our goals, and no one is ridiculed or chastised for not completing them. However, it does give us all something to focus on for the month.
Each writing group operates in their own way, but you will generally find them to be filled with like-minded people, writing in various genres, who are happy to support each other and gently critique each other’s work. It’s a great way for newbie writers to improve and hone their craft, obtain encouragement and banish the loneliness and doubts.
If you can’t get out to a writing group or there isn’t one near to where you live, do a Google search and see what you can find online. I know there are some very active groups around, and with Facebook and Google video messaging you can actually talk to people in the group.
Another way to exorcise the writing gremlins is by conversing with your social media connections, especially other authors. We’ve all been there and know just how hard it can be, especially when first starting out.
Something else to consider is taking part in one of the NaNoWriMo challenges. Invariably there’s a whole bunch of writers somewhere near you who have also signed up, and who you can befriend online.
Finally, participating in blog challenges are a great way to make new friends. I’ve made some fabulous friends from various challenges I did with Terri Giuliano Long’s blog!
The other blight upon us pen monkeys is the dreaded Writer’s Block. Yes, it’s real and a total pain in the butt! The worst of it is, the more frustrated you get, the more blocked you become. So what do we do when it strikes?
1) DON’T PANIC!
2) Walk away from it and do something different for a while. It can be something dreary like housework, you could walk the dog (or just go for a walk if you haven’t got a pooch) or take in a little retail therapy. When you return to your writing, you will do it with fresh eyes and a clearer head.
3) Listen to music and really concentrate on it. Listen to how the notes move up and down the scale and how the harmonies link together. Really focus on the lyrics; try and picture what the singer is feeling when they perform it (or if it’s an instrumental piece, try and imagine how the musician is feeling while playing). Concentrating on the music will help to free your mind and remove blocks.
4) Do some free writing. Pick a word at random and write whatever comes into your head about that word for 10-15 minutes. Ignore spelling, sentence structure and grammar. It doesn’t have to flow – it can be just a collection of words/thoughts/phrases/short sentences – the important thing is to focus on the word you chose and just keep writing. By doing this you have opened your mind and allowed the creative side to flow again.
5) Relaxation/deep breathing exercises. This is another great way of concentrating your mind and opening the portal to your imagination and inspiration.
6) Do some sort of exercise or sport. Yoga, Pilates, go for a jog, punish your body at the gym, shoot a few hoops, plug in the Wii/X-box and complete some of their fitness programmes, dance – it doesn’t matter what it is as long as there’s a level of concentration involved.
These are just a few ideas – you will soon find the method you feel most comfortable with. The important thing is for you to return to your writing as soon as you can afterwards and allow your mind free rein to tap into the inspiration/imagination your activity has encouraged. It may take you a few minutes to get back into your stride and the first few sentences may be gibberish or a bit strange compared to normal, but that doesn’t matter – it can be edited afterwards. You’re writing again and that’s what really matters!
So, the next time you need some encouragement, or you’re feeling isolated, or suffering from writer’s block, or (God forbid) you’re on the verge of throwing in your notebooks and giving up, just reach out. There’s always someone around who’s willing to extend a helping hand – especially in the writing community. Universally, it’s the most supportive community I’ve ever come across, and I’m proud to be a part of it!
Thank you Carlie! I think I’ll print this out and pin it up by my desk for future reference. I have and I still do struggle with these issues even though I’ve been writing for a few years now.
Check out Carlie’s books: Both available on Amazon:
Amazon US http://amzn.to/OLwU59
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/PhC0Gu
Publisher: Myrddin Publishing
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/11mZvnq
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/15XSYf2
Publisher: Myrddin Publishing