Writer’s block gets far too much credit for words not written and false starts on manuscripts.
Not being able to develop a character or plot to move the story forward is maddening. However, sometimes a lack of words is not the problem but the overabundance of words vomited by your brain!
After finishing a twenty-five-hundred-word chapter, you read it and cringe in horror at the forty-seven adverbs, nineteen pronouns, twelve dialogue tags, and eleven uses of the word ‘had.’
You believe writing is not your calling and consider a career in the food service industry where name tags and hats are required.
Instead, you delete the paragraph and start over.
You’re dealing with another type of writer’s block—one where you’re blocking yourself from moving forward because you’re trying to write the perfect first draft using the rules.
Everyone’s first draft is craptastic—you’re not going to be the exception.
First drafts get rewritten during the editing stage … hence the name FIRST draft.
Your story can (and will) change, making the chapter you’re agonizing over irrelevant.
Your editor could say the chapter doesn’t add to the story. Wave goodbye to the chapter.
Your MS will go through more changes than an Academy Awards show host.
Take a deep breath … and exhale.
Now. Write your story.
Let the words flow. Good, bad, passive, indifferent. Get them on paper.
Write your story. Finish it … and take a break from it.
After your break, make a copy of your MS and put it away.
Now you can use the rules and fix the excessive adverbs, run-on sentences and five-hundred-sixty-five occurrences of the word ‘that’ … or maybe that was just me.
Line up your Beta-readers and alert your editor.
And when you’re holding your published book in print form or on your reader, take out the saved copy of your first draft and compare the two.
You turned something craptastic into literature.
Pat your yourself on the back … and start all over again.
Write your story.
by Kyle Massa
I had a professor in college who often said, “Inspiration will fail you.” She was very right about that.
Many authors wait around to be inspired. They wait for the muse to appear with an amazing idea, one that fills the page with vivid prose and vibrant action. And when inspiration fails to appear, those writers remind themselves that tomorrow is another day, and they don’t write anything.
That’s why inspiration will fail you. It’s lazy, it’s inconsiderate, and it doesn’t ever show up when you want it to.
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Does your first chapter make a promise to readers? Do you live up to it? #WritersIssues
It’s the beginning and more specifically the first sentence, then paragraph, then page, then chapter. You have to grab your reader the minute they pick up your novel.
When you are ready to submit your work to an agent, one thing you will notice is they don’t want your complete work. They only want the first few pages, or some may ask for a couple of chapters. Don’t be bold and overconfident sending them the entire thing.
They probably will toss it to the side for your failure to follow instructions. If they do read, they won’t get very far if the first few pages aren’t compelling enough to draw them in (which was the part they wanted to see in the first place).
Agents as a rule, don’t want to see the entire manuscript until they know you can write a compelling story. You have to make them want to…
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Excellent post! 😉
The single best way to improve your creative writing is to do lots of creative writing.
However, it can be hard to make time to write short stories, poems or even novels. That’s why you should include as much writing-related passive learning into your day as possible.
Passive learning is essential learning to do a task by performing other similar (yet not identical) tasks. For creative writing, passive learning is a bit like sneaking vegetables into a brownie – it won’t feel like you’re writing fiction, yet your fiction writing will improve.
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Hey all, I have some updates before we get into the blog post. First, is that I am finally done teaching summer school which means I will have more time to get out posts on our regular weekly schedule rather than once ever two weeks. Number two, is that we are past June 30th which means it is time for our Writers Toolkit giveaway. I am going to do the drawing tomorrow morning and contact the winner. Once everything is confirmed, I’ll release their identity here in a future post.
The only other bit of news is that I will be gone from July 15th until the 29th for military training. Since this is only two weeks, I already have a blog post ready to go and thus shouldn’t be much of a bump in our schedule. I hope everyone is having an awesome day, and thanks for stopping in!
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by Kelsie Engen
You’re standing on one mountain summit, and there are fifty miles between the next mountaintop to which you’re expected to jump. Any step you take, any direction, and you’re going to go crashing to the ground, lucky to escape with your life. There will be bruises, broken bones, broken pride, despair, and maybe, if you’re lucky, a little bit of determination that you can dig out of the rubble, dust off, and put back in place.
That is being a writer. Oh, and add a small audience watching you fail, because even beginning writers tend to have a small, critical audience watching.
Congratulations, you just failed.
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Throwback Thursday is a series where we take a look back at some of AWP’s most popular posts. Enjoy!
by Michael Cristiano
So, you say you have a dream, Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. of prospective fiction (or nonfiction) writer. Well, so do I, and so do millions of others around the world. That is to write a book, but not just any damn book: a book that will be good enough to publish.
Seems like a pretty simple goal, right? In today’s day and age, there are a billion ways to see your work published: paperback, hardcover, ebook, literary magazine, traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing, serialization, writing your novel on your arm and reciting it in the subway (okay, maybe not that one…)
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Great food for thought! How do you name your books?
I read books. I read lots and lots of books. Which, even though Stephen King says you can’t be a good writer if you don’t have time to read, is actually unusual for a writer. Most writers, especially those who don’t have much time to write, spend their time writing. That makes sense, right? Right. But I read a lot of books, and sometimes I’ll have an epiphany.
Right now I’m reading Making More Money: Habits, Tactics, and Strategies for Making a Living as a Writerby Honoree Corder and Brian D. Meeks, and I had an epiphany.
How does a writer title their books, short stories, blog posts?
I suck at it.
And that was my epiphany.
No, not that I suck at creating titles for my books and stories. I knew that already.
No, I realized that On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton is the worst book title…
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