Writer’s Block: One Author’s Experience & How to Overcome it #amwriting #writerslife

Craft

This writing prompt is inspired by some questions posed for Goodreads authors to answer. I thought about my response, and thought it be great to share with you all aspiring authors out there! And anyone interested in how I went about writing A Stranger in France, Not Just for Christmas and Code Redhead- A Serial Novel.

So when I think of writer’s block in the traditional sense, I think of a writer sitting behind their lap top with a blank page, with a blank mind- they don’t know what to write or how to start. I don’t personally experience this type of writer’s block. I don’t mean this in a cocky way either, it’s because I’ve personally found a way to avoid it. But I’ll be honest I do experience lack of discipline/ sticking to my own writing schedule I set, this is mainly due to life and being  a busy mama. But when I do sit down to write, in between being a mama and work I’m never blank. Generally speaking, the former experience is what I’ve read and heard most writers experience. How do I avoid this common type of writer’s block, that is so damaging to a writer’s productivity  and even decreases their chances of finishing  their novel or short story? Simple…

 I have some form of detailed plan, I know what you’re thinking we all plan our storytelling ideas, hmm yes but the key is detailed.  Before I even write “Chapter One” at the top of my blank page  when I have a novel or short story idea I do the following:

  1. A detailed mini synopsis of EVERY chapter.
  2. A detailed character profile for EVERY character, especially those who take centre stage.
  3. Drum up two possible endings for the story.
  4. Drum up a few shockers/surprises/ OMG I never saw that coming twists. (this step depends on the genre I’m writing. I do this for romantic suspense and thriller a lot).

Every writer finds their own way and their own voice, but for me in order to avoid that “shit what do I write now?” Feeling, or find myself at a dead end with my story, I have a full idea of how the story will play out in the start, middle and end,  and an idea of what will happen in EVERY chapter for EVERY character. It’s quite a detailed plan. This is step #1 this way when I sit down to write I know what direction I’m going in, just from glancing at my synopsis of where I am with writing. Now don’t get me wrong my detailed chapter synopsis is not set in stone, when I wrote A Stranger in France  for one of my characters a scene I wrote  just came to me that very night I was writing. It was a creative  thought on the spot and it tied in with the story (lucky), so I went off the track I set out on. Another thing I find about this approach is it helps me to  think about possible word count, as I know what will take place in each chapter before I even write it and how long  certain scenes may play out for.

#2 is just a personal thing, many writers have an idea in their head of who their characters are, but I’m a little OCD. Mainly as I enjoy writing from first person, and try to make my characters pop on the page. (Which can be  a challenge as you need to become that character and react to situations as they would, not yourself). Due to my personal writing style, I like to sometimes use I NEED  to know my character’s view points, attitudes, likes and dislikes to a T,so I can be consistent when I am writing their POV. But generally I’d say this is good practice.

#3 this is my plan B, in case I decide to move off my detailed chapter plan, just back up! But it also helps me to move in the right direction when writing, to know what to write and when so I don’t experience writer’s block.

#4 I love this part! And it fits with genre I write in and my personal enjoyment of writing. You can’t have a romantic suspense, without the suspense or even a little surprise. You can’t have a thriller without some kind of thrill 🙂 in my humble personal opinion. If I am honest, this is the most enjoyable part as a writer for me, I love building up a little roller coaster to keep the pages turning. 

With  two out of the three of my published works and my current novel I’m writing now I followed my natural “blue print”, of how I  personally avoid writer’s block. I managed to finish a 90,000 odd word novel and 20,000 odd  word novella. And hopefully I’ll finish what I’m working on now as a guess this maybe about 60,000-70,000 words. The only time I went off track was when I wrote the short story for Code Redhead – A Serial Novel with twelve other authors … what do you think happened? Yep I got writer’s block LOL. I had my idea based on the writing prompt we were given but no real direction or plan, I was less organised and it took me a lot longer to get into my flow. Why did I not stick to what works? I think, looking back it was because the authors featured in Code Redhead- A Serial Novel only had 14,000 words as a limit for their story- teeny tiny ! So I thought to myself, this will be a breeze. But I was wrong,  it was a learning curve for me as a writer. Shorter word count (when it comes to writing for a novel not a blog) means  nothing. I learned in some ways it can be more of a challenge, to write an engaging story with a tiny word count  you need to  focus on the story developing plus balance character development etc.  Also when I saw the cover for the book, I went back to the drawing board, originally my story was a nice sweet feel good romance I called it “From London with Love” originally, but the cover of the book did not scream sensible shoes and a nice cardigan when I saw it LOL. No, to me the writing prompt my publisher gave us all, and the cover said to me “Kim, pull out something a little more stilettos and  a little black dress for your main character.” So that’s what I did, but not as quick as I would have liked, I did get writer’s block in the traditional sense for the first time! But I over came it and the story changed direction and the characters took on a new direction … eventually.

What did I learn from this? Stick to my natural blue print that helps to avoid writer’s block. Even if you change the story line last moment, at least you have a detailed idea of where you were originally going before hand and can adapt it,  rather than  just doing what you love …  writing, a little blindly and ending up blocked, pressed for time and like argh! Second no matter the word limit 14,000 or 140,000 you need a plan.

So the moral is, ( for me on my journey to published author) that I want to share with you is plan your direction, plan your character’s direction, and then plan some more! Then write… like no one is looking and enjoy feeling stress free and writer’s block free.

 

 

Writing Prompt: Write About A Book That Affected You – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn #amwriting #author #inspiration

Another writing prompt from the random situation generator I found on line, to spark writing creativity. There were a few  random situation prompts,  this afternoon that caught my eye- being a writer this one stuck out. I’d love to share why I love this particular book , (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn), and how it helped me make some hard decisions as a writer and now author.

Where do I start with this book? Have you read it? If not you really should. If you’ve seen the movie the book is miles better, even though the movie is also good. A few of the things I admire about this book is firstly the genre, (psychological) thriller, the characters, the actual story line’s nuts a bolts (human relationships) and the way Gillian wrote the book. She did something that a lot of writers/authors (not me) shy from- she wrote in the first person. Some say, that this is a sign of amateur writing, I completely disagree and fight this point tooth and nail … I think if you can do it and do it well – get on with it. From experience it is a challenge to do this, if you write in the suspenseful type genres. Do y’all know what it takes to write in first person well enough for it to have the right impact on readers ? A hell of a lot! Gillian did a fantastic job, I can’t praise her highly enough. You have to react to situations like the character, not how you personally would and be consistent- challenging not easy.

When I read Gone Girl, I was there, totally engrossed, mouth open. I felt like I was right there with the main (crazy ass) female character, Amy dressed in black with my hat low, ready to commit the crimes she did in the book, along side her. I saw, felt, heard, tasted, smelt and experienced everything she did in all the (unthinkable) acts of madness Gillian made this character do, in this brilliant suspenseful thriller. In my (humble) opinion the story would not have had the same impact on me as a reader, if it she  wrote in third person.

Apart from the choice of  how Gillian decided to tell the story, through her characters as opposed to third person as the author.  And the brilliant ( unpredictable) twists and turns, the character development was spot on! From chapter one, I sensed Amy was a nut job I never liked her as a person, she was out of this world crazy, but guess what I was not about to put that book down. In my view Gillian created a villain and unusually a female villain- a total bitch I hated, but she ( Amy)  made me want to read right to the last page. To do that as a writer I think is something to be  very proud of.  Nice job Gillian.

How this author’s book helped with my own tough decision making as a writer is also quite important.  Firstly, I honestly believe that when one has a story-line knocking between their ears, the story will tell YOU how you write it eg suspenseful,  scary, horror, thrill, third person, first person whatever. That’s been my experience, while writing two books and now on my third. A Stranger in France (my first book) the story-line and characters I had in mind told me three things 1. suspense is the theme and overall feeling of the story 2. Kim you have to write first person if you want readers to feel and experience, what each of these characters go through, in the twists and turns you have in mind, third person won’t work.  What reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl did  for me personally as a writer is  to allow me to  say f*ck it! I don’t care what anyone says about writing first person. I am in the driver’s seat I am the writer damn it I’m going against the “norm” or what is considered as the usual approach for my genre ( romance),  I’m writing in first person, and I’ll do it  as well as I can !  To be honest if an editor or publisher said to me “Kim write this  ( book) in third person” I would have said no and self published, that’s how strongly I felt about it and how much I enjoy first person writing- becoming the characters as I write. So Thank you Gillian! You gave me some balls  that I will carry with me for life as a writer, after seeing an example of perfect first person writing, with excellent character development. I’d do it all again …  in fact I did 🙂   and I plan on writing more stories maybe in first person, using excellent character development. Thanks Gillian!

 

 

100 +Short Story Writing Prompts- Release The Writer in You. #amwriting

As the autumn days draw in I’ll spend less time outside, and more time inside writing. It’s a chilly day today in London, I will not be at the pool for our usual Sunday swimming fun. We’ll spend the day in pyjamas instead.

Are you looking for inspiration to write? I  just stumbled across these great little websites, with  writing prompts! I have books with writing prompts, but I feel like trying something new. A little research and hey presto. Here are a few sites I found, what you’ll find are a mixture of situations or the start of a story (prompt) to continue writing :

100 short story ideas

More short story ideas

Twenty-Five creative writing ideas

This one generates random one line prompts click here.

 Release the writer in you-I look forward to reading some of your short stories in my news feed.

 

NEW YEAR, NEW CHAPTER_ 20 Quotes About Life, Creativity and Travel ___

Character Development- Guest Blog

Are you a writer? Or an aspiring writer? How do you find character development as a task while writing? Sometimes it can be quite a task to bring your characters alive on paper. For me as a reader I always love it when writers really develop their  characters  so well,  I can get a good sense of what a character is like  as a person. Or I have enough detail in the story to work with, to decide whether I like a character or not. 

I personally find that writing from a first person point of view ( which I love to do) also helps with character development, as you get right up and close to a character as the writer and reader. 

I done a guest blog on the topic of character development over at Serious Reading.  Here I share my top tips on developing  your characters  in your writing, you can have a read of the blog post by clicking here.