Tag Archives: writing tips

In the press of NaNoWriMo

It’s November 6th and I’m working on my fourth NaNoWriMo novel. This year my project is the 4th book of my Funeral Singer series. Two previous novels in it were written during NaNo. Last year’s novel is in the O’Ceagan’s Legacy series, and sadly, it is still in the edit pile along with Dew Dropping Hour. I tend to impose deadlines on myself and right now, completing the Funeral Singer series is right at the top of my list. There will be one more book in the series to bring it to five total.  But more about that later.

In this post, I want to toss out my top 7 methods to surge past the infamous writer’s block. I actually compiled these for the most recent High Sierra Writers’ newsletter, so if you’re already seen them, then move along.

There’s really no such thing as writer’s block, you know. You just have to do it. And there are some techniques that work for me. If you’re stuck trying to write something, give them a try and see if they won’t help you past the road block. However, the writer’s block at the top of the page can be a serious hindrance.

7 Tips to Break Writer’s Block

From the experiences of Rene Averett

As I’m starting my 4th year of NaNoWriMo, I’m planning to complete the first draft of my next novel. I have “won” every year so far and have every expectation of completing 50,000 words plus quite a few more in November. Even while doing NaNo, writer’s block can set in. I have a few techniques I use to get past them so I will share my top 7 tips for anyone else to try.

1. Change writing mediums: If you’ve been typing on a keyboard, try writing with paper and pen. I find that it triggers my mind into using my creative side and words tend to flow more easily as my mind shifts modes. After a page or so of writing longhand, I can usually get back into the flow of the story and to the computer.

2. Move around: Get up, take a walk, or do something physical for about 15 minutes. Your brain may just need a break. Put on some music and dance or exercise. Sometimes this includes getting up and feeding the cat.

3. Refresh and ask questions: Get a cup of coffee or a glass of water and allow your mind to think about the scene. Ask yourself questions about it. Maybe you haven’t planned it well enough. Ask the basic reporter’s questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? If you can answer them, then you might trigger the next part of your story or you can write a character back-story scene that gets you going again.

4. Take time for play: Play a game or do something creative, such as sketching, drawing, or cooking. Once again, this provides a break and allows your brain to work on the next part of your book.

5. Skip over the scene and go to one that is clearer in your mind: This works well if you’re a plotter. Often when plotting, you add scenes that you’re looking forward to writing while others are part of the necessary lead-up to that great scene. If the lead-up isn’t coming together, jump to the scene you’re really wanting to write. This often sorts out the troublesome scene in the process.

6. Turn off your inner editor: Easier said than done, but seriously, editing uses a different part of the brain and stifles creativity. Let your creative side go and just write.

7. Dream on it: If you’re having trouble with a scene, think about it before you go to sleep. Your brain will work on it while you’re sleeping and you’ll probably have the solution in the morning.

Hope these tips help you if you find yourself staring at the same line of your computer screen for a long time.


Thoughts while revising…

For the past two weeks, I’ve been working on a rewrite of my NaNo novel, “Funeral Singer”.  While I received good feedback from a few of my beta readers, the total lack of response from the rest leads me to believe that the book is not compelling enough for them to continue reading it.  I could be wrong, but that is the interpretation.  After reading it through again, I do see some pacing issues and places where it needs more zing.  With that in mind, I started a rewrite of it.  While I haven’t thrown everything out, I am looking for places to tighten it up and make it more of a page turner.

I have read so many books on how to write, articles on things to do, ways to hook the reader and other tips for writing that my head is drowning in all the do and don’t tips of other writers.  I almost find it crippling to approach my novel this way.  The mechanics of trying to write a book that applies these rules at every line practically stifles the writing.  Then I open a best-seller and most of these so-called rules are tossed aside.  Good writing and telling a good story are what are most important, I feel.

Does every book have to read like an action movie?  It seems like that’s what these writing advice tips are advocating.  Even action movies are getting over-inundated in the action and lacking in the actual content of the story.  For my movie dollar, I want a story that involves me in the story, the characters, and the emotions.  Star Wars was a successful film because we cared about the characters. skywalkerWe fell in love with Luke and saw his hopes and dreams and felt his longing to make a difference.  We fell in love with Han for his spirit, his sense of adventure, and his good heart.  We loved Leia for her courage, her humor, and her dedication.  We even loved Threepio and R2D2 for their human-like behavior and devotion to their owners.  These are what made Star Wars work.   While the action and the special effects kept the story rolling full-throttle, we still needed those telling moments, like Luke gazing out longingly at dusk to feel the yearning in him, Leia standing defiantly before Vader and showing her courage as she defies him, and Han getting drawn into the rebellion despite all his words of independence.

It’s also what makes a successful book work.  It’s the part of writing that pulls the reader into identifying with the main characters and caring about what happens to them.  It’s not throwing them into one crisis after another, but allowing for the ordinary and everyday part of their lives that the reader can grasp and identify with that builds the bond. Once you have that, then the reader will be pulling for your main character through the crisis and turning the pages to find out what happens next.

I call myself a writer and I want the words to be lyrical when I write.  I love words and how they link together to form exquisite sentences.  I like to read something I’ve written a few days after it’s done and think. “Did I actually write that?  Where did it come from?”

Once, in a piece of fan fiction, I wrote this line: “Quiescent words fell on him, patient little architects constructing a long-forgotten world— a place both so distantly removed and foreign to his experience that it could have been an alien civilization.”  Upon reading it, my friend, another writer, turned to me and said, “I wish I had written that.”  And I thought, I can’t believe I wrote that.

When the creative brain is in charge, the words come from the soul and not from the logical side that is saying. “How does this advance the story?”

At the end of the day, the book I write is mine.  It’s the story I want to tell and while it may not be a big hit with anyone, it is nonetheless, my story and I want to tell it as purely and elegantly as possible.  I can only hope that someone will want to read it because it’s a good story.

Writers and readers alike, what do you think about this?  Do you agree or disagree??  Let me know.