Thursday, April 28, 2016

Author Observations

One thing I've observed about many authors is that there are those who write about what they're doing and those who simply get it done with little or no fanfare. 

And it's generally the successful authors who concentrate on the work at hand and get it finished. No excuses. No rationalizations. No self-pity. You hardly know they're around until you see that they've had another book published. They make time work for them instead of never having enough time to write.

And they do it over and over. I'm sure they privately discuss how their writing is coming along with their publisher, agent, close friends, and a few other confidantes. Maybe even spouses or significant others. 

You realize that they are focused and designate a block of time each day for their work in progress. No doubt there are some under contract to deliver the goods by a certain date -- and that's sometimes negotiable. But they still get it done.

I think more writers would be more productive -- especially those who are self-published -- if they would have self-imposed deadlines. And that would also apply to traditionally published writers who aren't under contract and want to complete a manuscript by a certain date.

That's something I try to do when working on a novel. I suppose it's also a carryover from my newspaper and wire-service days when I was always under deadline covering events. 

I tend to find myself more tuned in on what I want to accomplish when I set a date to put a wrap on it.

Do deadlines work for you?

Until the next time.... 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Writers Block? (Part II)

I've made several posts here and on my Facebook author's page about writer's block. 

I think it's difficult to define writer's block. You ask 10 writers about the condition and you're likely to get 10 explanations (and probably more). Some say they've lost their muse. Others lament losing focus. Some blame the use of stimulants and depressants for their woes. Still others think it might be physical fatigue. And perhaps some use it as an excuse for not writing.

Mental Health Daily offers quite a few causes for the condition. 

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the simple definition of writer's block is "the problem of not being able to think of something to write about or not being able to finish writing a story, poem, etc." 

And the medical definition, according to Merriam-Webster, is "a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece."

I like what Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison has to say about writer's block:

Toni Morrison
"I tell my students there is such a thing as 'writer's block,' and they should respect it. You shouldn't write through it. It's blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven't got it right now."

From my own personal experience, that's something I understand from writing everything from novels to news stories to press releases. In other words, the reason something is being blocked is because it doesn't work. Writers needs to go back and rethink, rework, and rewrite what they're trying to write until they get it right.

I'm encountering this kind of "writer's block" in my current work in progress. It's not easy but whoever said writing was easy.

How do you deal with writer's block?

Until the next time....

Monday, April 11, 2016

Writer's Block?

I bet most writers experience periods in which it's difficult, if not impossible, to write. You know, the dreaded writer's block.

I know I go through it at various times. While I  believe the best way to overcome this peculiar impairment is to write through the problem, there are times that are more difficult than others. 

Life simply gets in the way.

For me, it has to do a lot with focus. When I'm distracted by other forces in life, it makes it much more difficult to sit in front of the keyboard and write. Writing, as with anything I care about, demands my full attention. 

And we all know that writing takes time, whether it's allotting 30 minutes or eight hours a day to a specific project. When I'm pulled from our writing routine to take care of other things -- big or small -- it makes it all that more difficult to get back into a groove.

When I'm working on a novel or other project, I need to write every day until finished. When something interrupts that process for several days, I find it all that more difficult to get back to my writing ways. If only for a day or so, not so much of a problem, but when it's prolonged for a week or longer, I lose my train of thought -- or storyline -- and it's not easy finding my way back. 

Of course, re-reading is the best way to get back on course, and that's what I do. But it takes time. 

I've also discovered that I'm not quite as prolific as I was in my younger days. I think a lot of that has to do with my energy level and other commitments in life. As basic as it sounds, I think writers should try to be physically fit in order to to be mentally focused. Get enough sleep. Physical activity such as walking, jogging, or whatever gets you off your butt. 

I also think it's important to make an assessment of what is truly important in your life and where you want to dedicate the time and energy. 

If you're a writer, it would behoove you to remove or minimize those things. And you might also discover that writing may not rank very high on your list of priorities. Then you have to make some hard decisions about your writing life.

The one thing I do when I've hit that stalemate at the keyboard is to read --  everyday. Another stimulus for me is to socialize with other writers at various events such as book fairs, readings, or simply meeting for coffee.

How do you deal with writer's block?

Until the next time....