Tag Archives: writer’s block

What You Don’t Know Can Save Your Writing: Guest Post by Sonia G. Medeiros

Hello readers!  It’s another blog hop of the Life List Club!  I have the fabulously funny and intelligent Sonia G. Medeiros with me today and I can be found blogging at Gary Gauthier‘s talking about crossroads.  Then, you can enjoy your cup of morning coffee and read the other Life List Club posts by clicking on the names in our sidebars!  We love to chat, so strike up a conversation in the comments, you’re sure to hear back!  Take it away, Sonia!

What You Don’t Know (Can Save Your Writing) by Sonia G. Medeiros

Writer’s Block (noun): a (possibly imaginary) condition afflicting writers, characterized by severe word-constipation; symptoms may include extreme procrastination, uncontrollable weeping, hair loss, blank stares, and binge drinking/eating.

I’d like to be one of those folk who states, without the slightest hesitation, that I do not believe in writer’s block. And I do know that it’s more psychosomatic (emphasis on the psycho) than anything else. But, when I’m staring helplessly at a blank screen/page, it seems pretty real.

The thing is, if it exists at all, writer’s block is only a symptom.

Alrighty then, mis smarty pants, what’s the disease?

Fear? Could be all sorts of fear that gets in the way of our creative flow. Fear of failure or success. Fear of change. Fear of fear.

Maybe it’s the inner-critic who won’t shut up. You know that guy, the one that’s always telling you that you’re gonna suck anyway, so why bother? Always wanting to correct the work before it’s done…which always makes the muse stomp out in a huff.

Or maybe it’s a result of not taking care of our bodies or the creative self.

But sometimes writer’s block is not about fear, the inner-critic’s filibuster, or a lack of self-nurturing. Sometimes it’s about what you don’t have for your story. About what you don’t even know you don’t have. The catalyst that will start your story’s chain reaction.

A story is like a living thing. It needs a skeleton (structure), flesh and blood (plot and characters) and a soul (that certain something that makes the story gel). Take away any of those things and the story falls apart.

Those of us that tend toward the pantsing end of the spectrum may struggle more with structure. Sometimes we just get it and sometimes we don’t. And, when we don’t get it, we often don’t even know what we aren’t getting because we’ve relied on the creative flow to carry us through.

A thorough and ongoing study of structure is the sure cure. Larry Brooks Story Engineering, Jack Bickham’s Scene & Structure, and James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure are all invaluable resources for any writer, whether pantser, plotter or pantsing-plotter (like yours truly).

If character and/or plot are ailing, the cure is likewise more studying (and you thought you left studying behind in school). Making great characters or gripping plots isn’t a cookie-cutter process but the elements that make both great can be learned. Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s 45 Master Characters and Story Structure Architecht and Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey are great resources.

And if it’s the soul that’s missing? What then? That’s a little trickier. There are no writing craft books (that I know of anyway) that can tell us just what that something is. All we can do is give it some brewing time while continually asking ourselves “what do I need to make this story work?” The answer can come from anywhere, especially from where that’s least expected, so a whole lot of keeping-our-eyes-peeled is in order.

So when it feels like writer’s block is not such a myth, take a deep breath, screw your courage to the sticking place and hunt up the reason. Kick the fear in the butt, tie and gag the inner critic, love yourself and then pull out your latex gloves and give your story thorough exam. And, when your creation lives, cackle like Dr. Frankenstein…just because.

Have you ever been completely stuck in a story? What was holding you back? How did you overcome it?

Sonia G Medeiros is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She’s the author of more than a dozen short stories and flash fiction pieces, blogs at WordPress, and is working on her first novel, a dark fantasy. When she’s not wandering along the tangled paths of her wild imagination, she wrangles home life with one fabulous husband, two amazing, homeschooled children, a part-alien half-chihuahua and two cats who battle each other for world domination.

Dear God, Writing is Hard. Love, Writer

Don’t you wish writing was as easy as talking to God?  No matter where you are, it will find you.  Blessed is she who writes, for she shall inherit a publisher.  Do not covet thy neighbor’s writing.  Do unto other’s writing as you would have them do unto yours.

Example Letter to God

When I was little, I believed I had a direct line to God, or at least to my priest.  When I was around 7 or 8, I used to write letters to the parish priest, Father Duane, and “mail them” by dropping them off in the collection basket.  They never failed to get to him, and I always received a most prized piece of mail in return answering all my weird questions like “Don’t you get sick of singing These 40 Days of Lent, Oh Lord?  I do.  Did you happen to watch the Barbara Walters special last night?  It was captivating.  I hate squash and my family loves it, do you think God put me in the wrong family?”

It would be great if good writing was as simple as talking to God, or writing your priest a letter, but it takes a lot more hard work, and often it won’t receive as kind and accommodating a letter in reply.  But good writing, like religion, can speak to your soul.

Thank God for the weekend!  My awful cold has put my resolutions to shame and I’ve felt guilty for not getting to them all, but most nights I passed out at eight with my clothes still on and kleenex in my nose.  It wasn’t until last night when I dreamed I was at the grocery store and I filled my cart full of tubs of cheese spread and cake that I new my appetite was back, and I was getting better.  Of course, then I dreamed I got lost in St. Louis, and I have no idea what that means!

So it’s time for Resolution Weekend Madness!  (man, I wish I had some WordArt to make that sound cool.  ha!) I’ll have to blog ahead, clean my room, and journal for my own enjoyment.  Not part of my resolutions, but important nonetheless, I’m also shopping for a superbowl party, Go Packers!, and catching up on some of the Oscar nominations before I host that party in a few weeks.

What are all you up to this weekend, writing or otherwise?  I need motivators to basically start over the story I was working on.  Yikes!


Room for Rent: Give your writing some space, for the love of God!

I’m stuffing lettuce in my face right now.  Guilt tripped after a weekend with the family, I devoured bite size bits of chocolate, ate french toast for supper, and cheesy potatoes for breakfast.  But I was leaving soon, and if I didn’t eat them for breakfast, I wouldn’t get any more!

Penitence: a light green salad, smidge of a smidge of a drizzle of caesar dressing, and Morning Star chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce and pomegranate juice.  It’s sort of like a kids meal at a fast food restaurant isn’t it, which tells you how well I prepared for this week’s resolution to eat healthier.

I swear to you, come morning, it’s back to Luna Bars and orange juice for breakfast.

Ok, Jess, distract the readers from your failings, what did you accomplish this week?

Let’s see, I relaxed. Sure that may not sound like an accomplishment, but for me, it’s not an easy thing to do.  And I bet many of you find it difficult too.  We writers can procrastinate to no end, but that’s not the same thing.  Say it with me, it’s not the same thing!  Procrastinating requires you to be doing other things when you should be doing something else more important.  But I had no immediate task to undertake.  I was free for three days to lay on the couch, watch movies with my parents, color with my niece, and read 100 pages of Jane Austen’s Emma while either in bed or in the tub.  That’s right, I took baths! To some, the notion of a bath is disgusting, as you’re sitting in the same water for so long, but I freaking love them!!!  And we have no tub at our house.  Well, we do, but it’s in my roommate’s bathroom, and I wouldn’t step a toe in that tub; it’s full of man hair and year old mold.  ylech!

I just got to hang out for a few days with my best friend, the red fleece blanket my parents call “Bette.”  Don’t ask.  I saw my dad attempt to latin dance, and my mother repeatedly fall asleep during every movie we watched.  I had my two year old niece pretending to be a monster crawl all over me growling and tell me what I thought was her monster name, “GaGaGooGi.”  Turns out, she wanted to recite “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.”  *shrug*

I also attended a church service for the first time in maybe four years, Christmas excluded.  My dad recently transferred, if you can use that verb while talking about religion, to a new church and my mom still goes to Catholic mass.  I decided to appease him and go to his service on Sunday morning.  I was a little out of my realm.  Half an hour before the service started was pure parish singing, and there were a decent number of raised arms about me.  I’m not comfortable with that.  I ventured down that path once before, and the more I got into it, the more I found out my beliefs differed from everyone elses.  Still, I admit, it was moving.  The pastor had a very moving lesson to teach us, and I applied it as fittingly as I could with my current endeavors.  The lesson essentially taught us, “God is a filler, not a forcer.”  God will never force us to do anything, but if we give him SPACE he will fill it with all his goodness.

Ok, stay with me.  I’m not about to change platforms and write about religion.  But I can appreciate situations where I feel uncomfortable.  And I can learn from them, and from those around me.  Even though my religious views don’t match my fathers, it seemed more meaningful that I go with him, and when he held my hand in prayer, I felt it shake.  So, I listened to the sermon, and I said, “Self, how can you make SPACE for your writing?  What will you allow your SPACE to be filled with?  Who will you show off your new SPACE to?  And before you can do that, what must you clear away first?”

When I opened my thoughts to my writing, and how a silly thing like SPACE could impact it, I was sort of stunned.  I think it does apply that for us to be creative and embracing of criticism and feedback, we have to open and give ourselves SPACE to hear those things.  For us to try a new idea, a new genre, a new publishing venture, we have to give ourselves SPACE to show those things.

How are you giving yourself SPACE this week?

Negotiating with the Dead

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

A Letter to My Protagonist:

Dear Lydia,

Honestly, where are you taking me?  I’m afraid our initial journey into the cemetery has gone beyond what we’ve discussed.  I know, I know, your friends are missing.  I want them back too, but maybe they’re not the ones meant to help you through this.  Maybe in this underworld you seem to have traveled to, you’ll make a new friend.

Oh, I forgot, you’re only in an underworld because one of your friends got you to break into an old man’s house, steal some of his paperwork, and then confront him in the graveyard, where he ate you.  Hmmm…

Clearly, it is time to make a new friend if you wish to survive.  Together, we’ve made it past the ghosts with the rolling heads.  We’ll make it through the snowy road of angels, too.  Just don’t touch them, everything they touch turns into frost.

That’s it, Lydia!  If you don’t start to listen to me you’ll never make it out of the labyrinth.  I mean it.  Quit running.  We can figure this out together.  I’ve kept you safe so far, and it’s a miracle I haven’t told your parents where you’ve been creeping to at night.  Yes, I know threats are childish!  Fine, don’t stoop to my level.  Oh, go ahead, stick your tongue out, see where that stubbornness gets you.  Maybe you can hang out in the mausoleum for another page!

……

I’d really like you to tell me where we’re going.  When you’re ready to stop acting so childish (and no, I don’t care that you’re only 8 years old), I’ll be in my room.

Sincerely,

the Cryptkeeper, I mean Author

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