How to Conquer Writer’s Block

Hey guys. I haven’t posted in a while. Things have been crazy. I’m moving, my grandpa died, I went on a vacation, and more. But I’m back and ready to get at it.
Another reason I haven’t been posting much is because I had writer’s block. Yes. If you are a writer I’m sure those words send chills down your spine. Writer’s block is so well know that even most non writers have at least a vague idea of what that horror is. And us writers? Well most of us could tell you first hand about writer’s block.
Almost every writer has, or will, at one point or another experience writer’s block. And we panic. What if this is the end? What if we never write another comprehensive sentence for the rest of our lives?
The first step to obliterating writer’s block is to just calm down. It’s not the end of the world, even though it may seem like it. Remember, this happens to everyone.
“But it doesn’t happen this extreme to most people!” you wail.
Yes, it most likely does. You may feel like you are the only one with a writer’s block this bad, but that’s not true. Just remember, this happens to everyone.
The next step is to identify the root of your writer’s block. Writer’s block is caused by many things, including, but not limited to, the following:
Laziness

When you just can’t force yourself to sit down and write. You always come up with something else to do.
Cluelessness
You have no problem sitting down to write, the problem arrives when you do sit down to write. You don’t know what to do with your story next.
Lack of Motivation

You know what to do with your story, and you’re sitting down at your computer, ready and willing to write. But you just can’t find the words. You’re bored as you flounder around on your keyboard.
Personal Stuff
You want to write, you know what to write, but you’re not motivated in another way, because you’re distracted by things going on in your personal life. This is the type of writer’s block I have been experiencing.
There are many more types of writer’s block, but these are the only ones I have personally gone through and feel experienced enough to talk about.
Also remember that your writer’s block could be a combination of any or all.
Now that you have identified your writer’s block, you need to cure it. To completely cure it may take a while, but at least you can get started now.
Laziness
To cure laziness you just need to force yourself to write. And that may sound easy, but sometimes it’s not. And that’s why you may need to find a way to force yourself to write.
One way is to set a word goal for the day/week/month, and if you don’t reach that goal you have to pay a friend or family member money, favors, or things.
Another way is to keep a few writer’s magazines or books on hand, and read a page or two from one before starting to write. It will get you thinking about writing, and maybe even excited.
Cluelessness
This one is easy. You don’t know what you’re going to write next. Then plan. But maybe you don’t want to plan. Another way to cure cluelessness is free writing. Let yourself go crazy and don’t censor yourself.

You’ll be surprised about what can happen when you just sit down and write whatever comes into your mind for fifteen or twenty minutes.
If none of this helps, maybe you might have to start over, or take a brake and write something else. Listen to your gut, it’s usually right about these types of things.
Lack of Motivation
Maybe you need to throw your outline or plan to the curb, and just write what you think should happen, instead of what you planned. And remember, if you aren’t enjoying it, odds are your readers aren’t either.
If that doesn’t work, maybe you should consider moving on to a different project and coming back to this later.
Personal Stuff
It’s okay that your personal life is affecting your writing. Maybe you should take a break from writing and come back to it when you can concentrate. That’s what I had to do with my writing. I had way too much going on at once, and my mind couldn’t transfer to writing. But at some point I had to just sit down and force myself to write, because after a while I had gotten into the habit of not writing, because of everything going on, and that can turn into laziness
Those are tips taken from my personal experiences. I hope they help as you too try to conquer that evil thing known as writer’s block.
Elizabeth

What We Can Learn: Classics

Hey everyone! Today we’re talking about classics (be prepared for a small rant).

So I go to a classical school, which means, obviously, that we read a lot of classic books. I know that classics are not always everyone’s favorite books. They can be quite wordy, full of telling instead of showing, confusing, etc. Full of today’s “writing faux pas,” so to speak. So why are they considered classics? Why do we still read them today? Why are we subjected to them in school?

There are likely more reasons than just this. But in my opinion, it is because they display human nature in an intense form. They contain emotion, and even today, we can connect with them. Or in Italo Calvino’s opinion, “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” I think that is so true. So let’s look at a couple classics.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Suffering. Injustice. Revolt. Resurrection. Guilt. Sacrificial Love. I hope that these simple words have made you think of specific people or feelings. These are big, broad topics, so even though A Tale of Two Cities was set around the time of the French revolution, they are still relevant today. We still see suffering and injustice. We still sacrifice for those that we love. Combined with sympathetic, memorable characters, they make for an amazing, classic story.

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Corruption. Brainwashing Media. Destruction. Again, broad subjects. This story is about a society entirely brainwashed by media and obsessed with pleasure, where books are illegal. And though today books are, of course, legal, this story still conveys relevant elements of human nature. The love of anything pleasurable and the allure of technology. The tendency to crave the things that are taken away. Out of context, they don’t mean nearly as much. But applied to characters, you get a realistic, emotional sample of human nature.

There are many more examples, of course. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings just to name a few. So what can we writers learn from such stories?

1. Try using big ideas/themes/feelings. Think of some of the ones I mentioned above. Try to find something that fires you up, that evokes emotion in you. These are things that resonate within people. Things that we can identify with. I’m not saying to turn your story into a huge allegory or anything. But your characters are human, and they experience big human emotions (guilt, righteous anger, strong love, etc.).

2. Use these subjects and emotions alongside strong characters. Innocence, for example, is just an abstract term. But pair the quality of innocence with a character who embodies it, and you have something tangible, sympathetic, and emotional, like the character Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Or take righteous anger and give a character that trait. Show us a real person who has that emotion.

3. Apply conflict. In the example of Scout, her innocence doesn’t mean a lot if there is no conflict or tension. Threaten her innocence, and you have emotion. Or show us the character with righteous anger. Let us see her in tears over the oppressed people she longs to help but, for whatever reason, can’t. Use the story events and characters to display the big ideas.

So those are some of my ideas when it comes to classics. Emotion is a common factor here, I feel like. Emotion is so big to me in stories (I have cried over To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings, and Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities). To be honest, I love stories that make me feel to that degree.

How do you all feel about classics? Anyone care to flail/cry with me over Sydney Carton and/or other characters and books L?
Katie

Yay! Another random writing post! I’ll be writing these every other Monday, alternating with the Path to Publication. Today I’m talking about writing playlists.
My current writing playlist for The Last Villain is:
Let Her Go by Passenger
Pompeii by Bastille
Lights by Ellie Goulding
Write Your Story by Francesca Battistelli
I See Fire by Ed Sheeran
Unconditionally by Katie Perry
Fix My Eyes by For King and Country
Live With Abandon by Newsboys
Roar by Katie Perry
Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift
So there it is! I have a diverse taste in music, as you can tell. In my last novel’s playlist, which was a middle grade contemporary I had a lot of Frozen songs and scores.
So what music should you write to? Do you like complete silence or could you listen to heavy metal for hours? I prefer to listen to upbeat songs that have a faster tempo. When I really want to get into a scene I’m writing, I turn to my trusty soundtracks. (I still have it on my to-do list to get the soundtrack to Maleficent.) Bottom line: you can listen to whatever you like and works for you.
That’s all for today! Comment below on your writing playlist and come back Wednesday for Katie’s fabulous post.
Elizabeth

What We Can Learn: Movies

Hi guys! Sorry I missed last week. Today, I’ll be starting a series called What We Can Learn. This will focus on what we as writers can get out of other people’s work. Today we’ll be looking at the value of movies.

1. Description and Language. Okay, I hope I’m not the only one who sort of “narrates” movies in my head as they play on the screen. You know, think things like “so-and-so collapsed on the stone floor and so-and-so threw herself down beside him,” etc. If you start thinking like this during movies, you’ll realize that there is SO much you can say, so many rich images, so many “cool” ways you can put what you’re seeing into words. It’s interesting how sometimes, the camera focuses on the smallest details, things that we maybe wouldn’t think to add to our descriptions. Use movies to help you describe images and action, to help hone your language skills. Watch a clip, and then pause it and try to describe what you just saw in words, being as precise and detailed as possible. Movies can also be helpful for describing certain things we likely wouldn’t see in real life, like explosions, wounds, certain types of terrain, etc.

2. Scenes. The next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the different scenes. Where they start, where they end, how they’re laid out in relation to each other. A technique I’ve heard of is to bring the reader into the scene late and take them out early (thank you goteenwriters.com). Pay attention to this in movies.
​Another thing movies can show us is which scenes are necessary to the story and which are not. Watch a movie that has deleted scenes included on the disk. Try to decide why the scene was deleted. Do you think it should have been left in? Did the plot or characters suffer because it was deleted, or were they better off for it? A good example is the deleted scene on the disk of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (I’m sort of a Marvel geek if you couldn’t tell). I won’t give spoilers, but to me, the deleted scene was deleted for a good reason. It was just another, very fleeting burst of action that didn’t need to be there. Nothing overly vital came out of it, and the action moved on without it just fine. See what you can learn from various movies’ deleted scenes.

Well, that’s all for today! What other aspects of movies could help us as writers?

~Katie

The Path To Publication Step Seven: When and Where to Write

Hey guys! It’s Elizabeth. NaNoWriMo is officially over! I still can’t believe it. It still feels like the beginning of November. But that’s how these things go, I guess. I’m sorry I didn’t write as much as I hoped, but I got a solid ten thousand words in, and that’s a good start. I hope to get my novel done by the end of the year. But to do that, I need to restart my scheduled writing time, which is actually the subject of this post.
So if you all are new, I’ll quickly review what the Path to Publication is. The Path to Publication, is a series of articles taking you through the steps of writing and publishing a novel. So far I have gone through six steps: deciding if your story idea is right for you, making a writing plan, pre-outlining, using plot points, outlining, and some of the things you need to do before starting your first draft.
Today, the topic is: Figuring out when to write.
Where To Write
I have already written a short article on this:
It’s time to find your writer’s space. This space can be in any spot that you want. Where do you like to write? The answer will not be the same for everyone.
I, for instance, like to write at desks, preferably in my bedroom. I started at a small, pale, wooden desk meant for a much smaller child. My legs were pressed up against the top, and it sometimes left marks, but it was worth the words pouring out from my fingertips. Later I got what I work at now, a huge L shaped desk made out of dark wood. It has many bookshelves, where I store all of my books on writing, notebooks, and library books I need to return. I also hang posters on it, and store little mementos around me for inspiration. I also have a vanilla air-freshener. Whenever I open it up, the scent of vanilla floods out, and inspires me to write. This scent gets me in a writing mood, since I only use it when I write.
I say all this to give you ideas, none of which you have to use. Maybe you don’t like to write at a desk, but at a coffee shop, or on your bed, or in a tree, or on your living room couch. That is awesome! Do what works best for you.
If you don’t know what works best for you, experiment. Try your couch one day, and your kitchen table the next. You never know what place will inspire creativity, and aid your writing.
And remember, you might need a change of scenery now and again. For instance, I wrote most of my novel at my desk, but finished it on my bed. I desperately needed a change of scenery, and it worked! Soon, while I plot my next novel, I’m going to try writing at my library in the newly remodeled teen section. Who knows, maybe it will be just the thing to get this new novel jump started!
What Time Of Day To Write
This, again, is different for everyone. It depends on a lot of things, including your circumstances, and what time of day you are most productive.
I like to write early morning, just before noon, or at night. In the summer I wrote just before noon and at night, but when school rolled around, I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to discipline myself to wake up earlier.
That’s all for today! If you have any more questions, please comment below. And come back on Wednesday for the first post in Katie’s new series.
Elizabeth

A NaNoWriMo Revelation and Blogging Stuff

Yes, that is a long title. And this is probably going to be a relatively long post.
So how is NaNoWriMo going? You’re probably wondering. After all, you haven’t been posting much this month, your goal must be almost met.
As I’m writing this, I’m stifling laughter on the couch in my grandparent’s house while my mom and grandma prepare for Thanksgiving. Yes, you might think that. You might think that I have written a bunch of words this month. But that isn’t the truth.
The truth is that I have about ten thousand words. Yeah.
The whole story of how I’m failing NaNoWriMo is very long, but I’ll spare you all the boring details and give you the short version: The month started out great, I lost my steam pretty quickly with all that I had to do, and now I’m majorly behind. What have I been doing all this time? School, reading, writer’s group, and procrastination.
And now I have a revelation. One that has made me a better writer. I learned that there is one way to write. And that is to write.
Surprising, right? I bet you never saw that coming. But it is so true, and I didn’t realize that until a few days ago.
I was so frustrated with myself, wondering why I couldn’t just sit down and write, why I always found excuses. Then I realized that I was avoiding the one thing that would help. And that was writing.
I wish I could tell you that there is a secret formula to get you to write more, but there isn’t. That there is a magic writing genie that will help in the creation of your novel. But there isn’t. There’s only blood, sweat, and tears. Okay, maybe not literally, but it sometimes feels like it.
So the next time you find yourself procrastinating, pinch yourself, stop whatever you’re doing, find something to write with and WRITE. That’s all there is to it. It can be so hard and so easy.
Trick yourself into only writing for ten minutes. Then twenty. Then thirty. Then an hour. Now you’re writing.

Okay, that was my little rant about writing. Now onto my blogging part of the post.
So this blog is feeling kind of unorganized to me, so I’m going to start getting it organized.
So should we post at morning or at night? I’m leaning towards night US Pacific time, but if you would rather have us post in the morning, please comment below. Also, how many times a week should we post? Right now we might only do three times a week, but if you want more, please, comment below. If we’re only going to post three times a week, then I’ll post on Monday, Katie will post on Wednesday, and Hazel will post on Friday.
Oh, and in other announcements, I’m starting a newsletter for Middle Grade and Young Adult writers. It’ll probably be started in December or January.
That’s all for today, and be sure to come back tomorrow for the first post in Katie’s new series.
Elizabeth