Why Pinterest May Be The Greatest Website For Writers: Part 2

A couple days ago, I posted an article on how the social media site Pinterest is extremely useful for writers and the visualization of characters, settings, clothing, etc. As a follow-up, I want to now get into the ways Pinterest can assist writers in a more general fashion. What do I mean by this? Things like writing prompts, suggestions, guidelines… you know, all that jazz.

Like many other writers out there, I’ve suffered from writer’s block. Well, one of the more recent ways I’ve discovered to help out with this issue is using Pinterest. Just simply search “Writing prompts” and you’ll receive hundreds of ideas to get you unstuck from whatever writing dilemma you’re currently facing. Sometimes it may be something entirely unrelated to what it is you’re working on – and that’s totally okay. Taking a break from your current project is sometimes exactly what you need to rejuvenate and recharge your writing batteries. Other times, you may actually find a writing prompt that works with whatever it is you’re writing. I’ve had both of these circumstances happen for me and they work just the same. They get me writing again, which is all that really matters.

Pinterest also has a ton of writing advice out there that authors and writers should really take advantage of. I’ve got a whole board of pins dedicated to writing tips and suggestions that I really do use when writing. Sometimes they can be as simple as a reminder on how to notice when you’re writing in a passive voice or active voice… or how to tell when a bilingual character has been written by a non-bilingual person. Other times, they can be far more detailed and explain different ways to include prologues into your writing. A lot of these tips are things you may not necessarily think of, or maybe it’s something that you didn’t know. Pinterest is wonderful for that reason – you get to read a wealth of information from experts in their own fields and then can save it to a board for later reference.

Using Pinterest for writing motivation is another way I find the social media site extremely helpful. Sometimes, when the writer’s block has hit and you just need a pick-me-up, motivational quotes are the way to go. Or maybe you’re someone who needs a list of other books that have been published in your genre as a means to spur you on. Pinterest can help with this. Having a board completely dedicated to motivation is sometimes exactly what a writer needs to get going and pick up that pen, or put their hands on those keys again.

Again, these are just a few different ways Pinterest can help an author out in a more general writing fashion. I know there are many authors out there that also use Pinterest for marketing purposes – but since I don’t have any experience in that particular area, I think I’ll leave that for someone else to explain.

If you have any more suggestions or ways you use Pinterest to help out with writing, please feel free to add it into the comments section below. Differing opinions and ideas are always welcome – in no way to I pretend to know all.

And as always, keep writing everyone! I hope you’re all gearing up for the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo!

Until next time.

 

The Post-Project Funk

A little while ago I finished up the first draft of a manuscript. Since then, I’ve tried (and failed) multiple times to pick up another unfinished first draft of a project that’s been sitting around for the past few months. Needless to say, it hasn’t gone well.

I’ve maybe managed to hash out a few hundred words – and that’s probably being generous. The words just aren’t flowing like they were while I was working on the other manuscript. At first, I thought it was just because I wasn’t quite sure where to go with the new story from where I’ve left off. But it isn’t that, and it’s taken me until now to realize that lack of plot isn’t the problem I have. I have the post-project funk.

In a way, the post-project funk is sort of like a version of writer’s block. The only difference? Instead of having all of these ideas inside your head ready to write only to just not be able to get them written down, you just feel tired and burnt out. There’s a small part of you that knows you need to start working on another project, but you just don’t know how. And in a way, it makes sense. You’ve just completed a piece of writing. You’ve poured your heart and soul into the thing and given it your all. How are you supposed to just clear everything about that story out of your head and move onto something new?

For some writer’s, the main problem is coming up with another great story idea to write about. For other’s, they have their next project already in their minds, but just don’t know how to start. In my particular case, I have a project to work on (the continuation of a re-write I’ve had on the go for a couple of years), but I just can’t find the will to get the words down onto the page.

I know what I need to do. I need to take a break from writing and let my batteries recharge. November was insanity – I ended up writing over 55,000 words over the course of the month, and then continued that writing high right on into December until I finished the first draft of a manuscript. In the past six weeks or so, I’ve probably written close to 75,000 words. I believe that’s a new high for me, so it’s no wonder why I feel burnt out.

The thing is, I don’t want to take a break. I’ve set some writing goals for 2017 – I want to have two separate manuscript first drafts completed by the time the snow melts. More specifically, I’ve set targets of the end of February for one and the end of April for the other. With these dates set in stone, I don’t want to hesitate a moment and waste any time I could be writing. I know I’m going to need all the time I can get to make these deadlines.

This is a problem I know many writers out there face. Deadlines are a thing – and a very important thing they are. They put the fear in writers everywhere because they force us to have produced something good, even when the words just aren’t flowing right or we just can’t get in the writing mood. Personally, even though my deadlines have only been put in place for me by me, I still want to stick to them. I want to have a rigid structure and timeline I need to stick to or else I know my writing time will disappear into almost nothing. It’s happened before to me and then I went into a dry spell for a couple of months.

For this problem, there really isn’t a solution that involves continuing to write – at least that I’ve managed to find yet. If you have any, please, feel free to share them. For me, the truth is when a writer is burnt out they really do need to take a break. It doesn’t have to be long, but they need a bit of time separate from their work so they can recharge their batteries and get ready for the next battle with their words.

This is the point that I am at and I know that many other writers are at too. So take a day or two – busy yourself with something else. Go watch a couple of movies. Go hang out with some friends. Go out for walks, or go jogging. Do something that isn’t writing. Soon, the words will come back to you. Soon, you’ll be entranced in your new world and new characters. Soon, you will create another masterpiece. And then you’ll just do this all again.

Until next time.

Finishing off that first draft

Like many writers before me, and sure to be many writers after, I find the final push towards that completed first draft is extremely difficult. For some reason, the brain decides to press hard on the brakes while simultaneously throwing up a wall, breaking all real flow of writing and making it very hard to finish anything, let alone the climactic portion of your novel.

Over the past decade or so I’ve encountered this problem more times than I’d like to admit or say, but during this time I’ve also managed to come up with a few different strategies to try and break through the what seems to be impenetrable wall. So, without further ado, here are some tips and strategies to help you conquer what some say is the hardest portion of writing.

1) Take a break from your current project.

For me, this is always my go-to option whenever I’m trying to finish writing the last part of my first draft. If I find myself standing there, looking at that unbearable wall, working on something else somehow manages to open my mind back up and gets the words flowing again. Some people find they need to stay within their book universe, so they either work with an existing character already found in their novel (which can lead to an interesting spin-off novel!), or they take their main character and place them in an entirely different scenario and see where it takes them. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up using some of that writing in a later project (sequel maybe?) or fit it in when you’re working on an edit. Other times, people find it helpful to completely step back from their universe and begin working on something else. It might just be a one-shot, or maybe it turns into your next full-scale project, but the complete removal from all things familiar sometimes helps harness that raw creativity only found when creating something new.

2) Try working on the next scene in your manuscript.

Though this option hasn’t been always as successful for me in the past, skipping your current scene and moving onto something else does have it’s benefits. Towards the end of a novel this tactic gets a little more difficult – since there are less and less scenes to move on to, but it can be quite effective if used with enough writing material left. Moving onto the next pre-planned scene allows for the familiarity of the characters to continue which keeps the creative flow moving and sometimes even helps spring up new ideas. Perhaps your character says something funny that strikes a chord with you; the next thing you know, that funny little statement gets something going in your head and BAM! Problem solved. The whole point of this option is to work around the blip in your story and trick your brain into thinking you’re not close to being completely finished writing yet. From what I’ve found, that’s why the wall is thrown up – not because they ideas aren’t there, but because your brain just can’t get unstuck on one particular thing. By skipping over it and continuing work on the project, you can fool your brain into thinking it’s already been written. Once the remainder of the story has been finished, you can return to that one spot you skipped over and fill in the gap.

3) Talk it out with a writing friend.

This tactic always seems to work well for me – and I would use it much more frequently if I lived in the same city as my writing partner. Writing friends (or writing groups if you’re lucky to join one of those) are a good way to hash out issues of any sort in whatever piece you’re working on, but especially issues relating to breaking down that final wall. Through their experiences and yours combined, normally some sort of an answer is discovered after a couple of sessions and you can continue on working. The key for this being successful is they type of person or group you hook up with. Hands down, the person needs to be a writer. Though non-writers can provide feedback and help with small things, it takes a writer to help their kin through a crisis such as breaking down the wall. Most writers have been through a similar situation at least one other point in their lives, which helps immensely. The other major thing I think people need to look out for is the genre in which their writing friend spends most of their time in. Myself, I write in the Y.A./N.A genres, so naturally my writing partner does so as well. Now, that doesn’t mean someone who writes in crime or mystery or fantasy wouldn’t be able to help me – I’m just saying that different genres have different checkboxes that need to be looked at and a writer from a different genre may not know all of them.

That’s all the suggestions for now! I’ll have some more in the next little while, so stay tuned! And as always, keep writing.

Until next time.

 

Writer’s Block: Rearing Its Ugly Head

I believe (though someone correct me if I’m wrong) that this is the first time since I’ve started this blog that I’ve actually posted more than one entry in the same month. I know, pathetic, right?

Getting to the matters of writing, I have to say that writer’s block is currently my biggest problem right now. My friend and I managed to finish up two short stories in our collaboration that were WAY overdue to be completed – like we started these things back in July of last year, that’s how long it’s taken. Other than those two pieces (which maybe needed 500 words each, tops) I’ve unfortunately been stuck.

The story I mentioned in my last post which I was going to work on as come to a complete standstill and it’s all thanks to lack of interesting plot. See, I’m at the point in this novel(la?) where I need time to pass, though nothing really interesting happens. I know I could do a time-jump and just put a “6 Months Later” heading in the text and just continue writing, but I’m not really sure if I want to do that yet. It also probably doesn’t help that I’m no longer certain the span of time this story is actually supposed to extend over. I thought I knew before, but all that’s changed recently since I’m editing another book that takes place in the same universe, same time frame. So now I’m not sure. Enter writer’s block on this particular manuscript.

And then I’ve got the collaboration which I’m doing with my friend. Again, same universe, but this time a different time frame which is set at least a couple years later. So why the writer’s block, you may ask? Well this one has to do with lack of inspiration instead… although I guess it’s also related to plot as well… But anyway, the semantics of the situation isn’t the point I’m trying to make here. What I’m doing a terrible job of saying is that when my friend and I started working on this collaboration we wrote down a list of all the short stories we wanted to tell with our characters. We agreed that it was the chance for us to see them in a different, more mature and grown up light. Weddings, funerals, career decisions… those were just some of the big things we wanted to touch on. The project started in July of last year and in those first few months we probably wrote 30,000 words – maybe even more.

Now fast forward to today. All of the initial “big” ideas and stories we wanted to tell have pretty much been written now, leaving the straggling, fragmented ones left. Yes, we still have more we want to write, but the amount of time and energy it’s going to take into making those partial ideas whole is a lot to tackle together, let alone when living an hour or so away from each other. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that little wrench in the works? We don’t get to see each other much and have had to resort to Skype dates along with the absolutely amazing editing function of Google Docs. To be perfectly honest, I’m not surprised that writer’s block as reared its ugly head in this scenario.

So here I am, stuck on two projects because I either can’t translate the ideas from my head to the page (or I guess technically it would be the keyboard or word document…), and I’m frustrated as anything. Don’t you find that whenever there’s finally time to write, that’s always when it becomes the hardest to do so? I guess in a way that’s Murphy’s Law for you right there.

Well, beyond my ranting about yet another bout of writer’s block, I don’t really have much to share writing-wise. You’ll have to excuse my lack of usual “wisdom” (Okay, I can’t even write that without cracking up) – let’s go with the moral that usually sums up whatever entry it is I’ve written; my favourite tennis player just lost a semi-final match early (like 3:30am start time early) this morning and I’m still bummed out by it. So there you have it – interesting fact about me: I’m a sports nut, tennis being one of the sports I’m super nutty over.

But without further ado, I shall end this blog post now and stop rambling. Keep writing, everyone.

Until next time.

Pre-NaNoWriMo Writer’s Block

Worst. Timing. Ever.

It is officially 3 days until the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2015 and I am sitting with half of a hole-filled plot and absolutely no idea how I want to end my story. The characters are in my mind, but everything else just seems to be falling to pieces around me. Commencing freakout now.

The wonderfully ill-timed writer’s block has struck me again, though this time it’s decided to hit before I’ve even written a word down. Now I know that this is probably a sign I need to completely re-work my story idea and that would be totally cool if it wasn’t that NaNo was in 3 DAYS!

What do I do? Stick with this terrible plot and just try to grin and bear it through the 30 days? Ditch it and plot something entirely new? Re-write and edit an old story that’s been sitting collecting dust for a year or two? Fly by the seat of my pants and attempt to write 50,000 words with nothing to go on?

As much as I hate to admit it, all of these options are serious things I’m considering right now. I just don’t have much more time to figure it out. For the past four years I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo I’ve never had a problem coming up with something to write about and then putting down a detailed story plot and outline. This year is something entirely out of the ordinary for me and it’s freaking me out. I know that I haven’t had a ton of time this year to dedicate myself to writing, but I did manage to write 10,000+ words for Camp NaNo this year, so that has to count for something, right? I still have the creativity in me somewhere, right?

I hope that all you other NaNo writers are having more luck than me in the story-plotting area. Depending on if I can figure out something to write for Novemeber, this may be the last entry I write until it’s done. If I’m back on here again before the end of next month, you’ll know I most likely wasn’t successful.

Happy writing, Wrimos (and other writers who aren’t completely crazy)! See you in December and no sooner (hopefully).

Writer’s block strikes again

So do you remember how a month and a half ago I posted that I had begun to work on the first edit of my novel? Yeah, that’s going well (NOT). Turns out writer’s block has decided to make a come-back in my life and mess up the nice little routine I have had going. I managed to get twenty-something pages into the actual first edit before getting stumped.

It’s quite frustrating. All I want to do is work through this edit and change up a few things. Apparently my brain can’t handle such a simple task.

Instead, I’m sitting in front of my computer looking at the Microsoft Word document which contains my story… and I’m just staring at it. Every time I try and write something, I end up deleting it (sometimes I even end up deleting more than the new stuff which has been added). When that didn’t work, I thought maybe I could plan what was going to happen in the revised scenes I want to write and add into the plot. That didn’t work either. Instead of staring at the word document containing my story, I was staring at a blank page.

I’m at the point where I think I need to take a break from even thinking about this story… or the large edit which is looming in the back of my mind. Perhaps thinking of something else will help me through this process.

I can always go back to my original way of getting rid of writer’s block: starting a new project.

Looking back on this entry I notice that it is more of a rant than a helpful blog post. So if you’re completely lost while reading this and find it totally unhelpful, I am truly sorry. But hopefully you can find something useful from it. Something. Just anything.

Keep writing folks!

(Hopefully you’re having better luck than me!)

How to end this…?

I don’t know what else to say other than this:

“Why?! Why?!”

Why writer’s block? Why are you so frustrating? I can’t seem to manage more than a few sentences, and even then, I find myself erasing more than what I’ve actually managed to write. Been sitting at the computer for the past few hours now and haven’t gotten very far. I think I’m going to call it a night in hopes that inspiration will soon come. I can only hope.