Writer’s Block?

I saw someone pose the question to a writing community on Twitter, asking for suggestions on what to do when she was having writer’s block. To which, someone replied that there is  “no such thing” as writer’s block. “Just write,” the person instructed.

Don’t do this.

Don’t be THAT asshole.

Even when I didn’t think that I personally ever had writer’s block–I would never have presumed to know everyone else’s experience and claimed it didn’t exist. There are a shit-ton of things in the universe I do not know. In many MANY cases, something might exist even if I’ve never seen it or felt it myself–and that’s true for you too.

Another thing to consider, is what exactly you imagine writer’s block is. I know, you’re thinking this is simple–it’s being blocked from writing. Sure. But, as I said, until very recently I didn’t think I EVER got writer’s block. I considered myself exempt from the whole horrible experience because I could just write, whenever I wanted to write.

But those were the key words, “whenever I wanted to write.” I write a first draft in about a month or two of solid writing and then go through bouts of not writing. I usually spend the time editing or rereading or doing something else that looks productive enough and masks my complete flat-line of drive to write. And I definitely don’t have a writing month when I don’t feel like it. I ramp up to it, get excited, get everything in order and pretty much feel like I’m going to explode with new stories if I don’t get started.

I don’t often have to deal with writer’s block because I am not in a writing phase all the time–but some writers are. Some writers get new words on the page daily. Some have multiple stories going at the same time.

Good advice for writer’s block?

If it’s really bad, just step away for a while. Binge watch a show. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do something else and just take a breather.

If it’s light, maybe try writing something else entirely. Something completely indulgent with zero pressure.

You know yourself best. You know how you’re feeling and where you find your inspiration. And you know when you can push through and get your writing done and when you just need to step back for a breather.

 

Do you get writer’s block?

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given?

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How To Avoid Being In A Horror

I’ve watched/read a lot of horror and here’s my advice if you want to stay out of one. No guarantees though… just helping to increase your odds.

  • Don’t move. And if you HAVE TO move, don’t move out into the forest, or into your dark mysterious childhood home, or into an estate with a stranger’s furniture left behind. And most importantly, don’t move into one of those three houses they use in all the horror flicks! Safest bet–no stairs. Don’t know why, but ghosts and murderers love stairs.
  • Don’t buy boxes or wardrobes you can’t open and then bring them home to investigate later.
  • Don’t have kids. Sorry. I know most adults do, but it really amps up your chances of being in a horror flick…
  • Stop playing with Ouija boards!
  • Don’t break into closed stores, graveyards, warehouses, abandoned hospitals, or theme parks. It’s a crime, but more importantly, it could lead you into a starring role in a horror flick.
  • Don’t be a douchebag. Whether it’s a curse or Hannibal Lecter, a lot of people would have survived if they hadn’t been assholes to start with.
  • DO NOT PICK UP THE BALL. Sometimes a ball, usually red, will come bouncing out of seemingly nowhere–down the stairs, down the hall, across the yard, whatever. Don’t pick it up! Don’t touch it! Don’t kick it! Just turn around and pretend you never saw it.
  • Make no deals with devils. This should be obvious, but I guess it’s not. If someone wants to make a deal that sounds too good, it is. If they’re vague and sketchy–just assume they’re a soul eater, politely decline and run.
  • Don’t swim in the ocean. Preferably ever but definitely not at sunset/sunrise. And that’s really just life advice. Try not to flop around in the ocean when sharks are looking for breakfast.
  • Don’t hitchhike, hire sketchy tour guides, or throw sass at questionable people in the middle of nowhere.
  • DO NOT DRAG YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER INTO THE WOODS TO PROPOSE TO THEM WHEN YOU YOURSELF ARE NOT AN EXPERIENCED OUTDOORS PERSON.  You see how I don’t even know what an experienced outdoors person is called? And I would not take someone into the woods with me, away from all civilization and safety, because I think it’ll be quaint. It won’t be quaint. You’re gonna get eaten.
  • I’d add don’t desecrate graves, steal from alters, or take pictures of things you’re not supposed to take pictures of…but I did already say not to be a douchebag.
  • Don’t go off the trail.
  • Don’t invoke spirits/witches/demons.
  • Don’t vacation in a cabin in the middle of the woods.
  • Oh, and don’t be a brunette. Sorry.

Okay, I think that’s it… If you have more to add, let’s hear it!

Also, how many of these have you already done?

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Writing The Whicker Witch

I have a couple projects in the works this year and among them are a few horror novellas/novels I’m writing and editing. I usually set aside a few weeks to write my first drafts. They’re sloppy but I get them done and then work on edits later on.

Last month I wrote my first draft of a work I’m currently calling The Whicker Witch. The first week went super smooth, the second got a little bumpy.

I dedicated a couple weeks to it and wrote five thousand words a day. My goal for the project was 50k but that was really just a guess. I wasn’t sure if it would come out longer or shorter.

I swear, I sent my dad a text first. He replied and that led to me calling him up at his 1:15am to talk about bridges for my book.

So the second week didn’t go quite as smooth as the first but I managed to stay on target for my word count. It went over the estimated 50k and into a third week. But it’s done!

And this is pretty much what it looks like! I write all my first drafts on Scrivener because you can have the outline in the same screen as well as a sidebar with character cards and this pretty little project target thingy!

Now, I should be on to editing this or one of the other finished first drafts on my desk BUT I jumped on another novella outline I had ready while I was still on a writing kick.

So, wish me luck! Because now I’m writing a novella about a demon and a mobster on a joyride!

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Crowns & Ash Character – Fay Dray Fen

No one takes from Fay Dray Fen.

“When did your dabbling in disobedience become full blown treason?”

“I do not dabble. I am an expert in all things.”

Second child and only daughter of the Queen. Fay was unwanted by her mother, sent out of the Tower at birth and never invited back. The people of the Realm rejoiced at a royal in their midst, happy to have a princess at their tables and, in time, Fay became a force to be reckoned with. She has no authority she didn’t take for herself, no love from the Queen, and almost no law in the Realm above her. Fay bends the city with the force of her will. She creates spoken laws like, “No one takes from Fay Dray Fen” by saying it and enforcing it until the rest of the Realm knows it well.

“Kill them.” He remembered Fay’s voice. Not angry or bitter, not even frightened of her own vengeful heart. Her voice had been so calm and so clear, as though death was the only path before her, the only choice she could have ever made. -Detox in Letters

A thousand paintings, sketches and sculptures of Fay Dray Fen adorned the homes of the High but her eyes were always wrong. In the end, they often painted her looking away, because none could capture even a fraction of the true weight of her gaze. -Vanity in Dust

Fay begins the series as Vaun’s bitter and somewhat smothering sister. She pushes and spies and plays at games he is only beginning to take notice of. Fay prides herself on knowing all the happenings of her world, but only after the events of Vanity in Dust, does she begin to see the people of the Realm as hers–not pawns to be moved but lives to be protected.

Fay is as loved as she is feared. The people of the Realm see her as something godly, the only one more powerful or terrifying is the Queen herself.

One of my favorite scenes in Detox in Letters is a duel between Fay Dray Fen and Addom Vym. Despite duels being a well-loved hobby of the High, where the wealthy battle with a flourish for the entertainment of their audience–Fay has never really participated. She’s dueled, but she’s never played along–known to win quickly and without any showmanship. But not only does she arrive to the duel with pageantry, she drags out the fight.

Her vision blurred in a second of fury. She had commanded him to play her enemy today and, true to his bloodline, he was an excellent liar. He lunged at her and they clashed in a rush of blood and the violent scraping of metal. She almost forgot to hold back, boots sliding in the rubble. He pushed her sword up with his, other arm slashing between them to cut at the bend of her elbow with his dagger.

Fay sucked in a breath so deep that it hit the bottom of her lungs. Her arm spasmed and fingers released her sword. It clattered to the ground and the crowd gasped in a way they never had before.

Before the first drops of her blood hit the ground, the handle of her dagger, still securely in her left hand, slammed against his face. His body bowed to the side, staggering a step away from her. She kicked out, heel to his wounded side and shoved him hard away from her and to the ground.

She glared when he rushed to his feet again, as though she would strike while he was down. His cheek turned red, rising with a welt and a bruise in the faint shape of her hilt, but Addom didn’t seem to notice. He just stared at her, mouth opening but no words coming out.

The whole yard had gone quiet.

Her arm twitched, warm liquid sliding down her hand to drip from her fingers. She followed his gaze to it—her blood—and then back up. His mouth trembled with a grin, eyes gleaming with too much excitement edged in a terror that had the Vym locking his knees.

“So, you really are just flesh and blood.” Addom heaved a breath, tears gathering in his eyes even when he smiled like a fool.

He wasn’t the only one gawking. Everyone stared at the red dripping from her arm. They’d never seen her bleed before.

Fay squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, and waited for them to return to reality. This was just a show—a display for the entertainment of the public and the distraction of the Queen. “Are you grinning like that because you think you might win?” She took slow steps, pulling him into a circle and watching how he favored one side. His torn shirt exposed the gashes across his ribs, sticking to his waist where it soaked in blood. “I may be flesh and blood, but I am still your god.”

He sobered right before her eyes, swallowing hard and shivering in the face of his own mistake.

 

…though Fay boasted a cold heart, it was still there, beating in her chest and bleeding for her people. -Detox in Letters

Loves: Herself, even when her mother didn’t. Her brother, Vaun. A perfectly set table. Books. Knowledge. Victory.

Hates: The Queen. Bad manners. Ill-fitting jackets.

Fears: She would say that she fears nothing, but we know better. She’s afraid of failing the people she’s taken responsibility for. She’s afraid she won’t be able to do all the things she wants–that one day her will won’t be enough.

Relationships: Had a romance with Philip Belholn in her youth that sometimes pops up in the present. Has a complicated flirtation with Addom Vym and a known affection for the Dourdin sisters. Everyone in the Realm knows she loves her brother, Vaun, and is close friends with her sister-in-law, AviSariel. She also has strong ties with the Vym family, often seen in the company of Evelet and Larc.

Fay loved her secrets almost as much as she loved her knowledge. -Detox in Letters

And if the Realm had ice cream, her favorite would be something seriously chocolaty with chunks of brownie.

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Burn Out

Burn out is something I’ve heard many artists and creators talk about and thought, naively, that I had been excused from it. I thought I’d been blessed and simply never burned out–never hit that unseen wall where all our plans and schedules and inspiration went smashing to bits.

I was wrong. And, in hindsight, I’ve had bouts of burn out plenty of times before and just didn’t recognize it. Mine sneaks up on me. It’s like the gas runs out but for a while, the wheels keep rolling and I think I’m fine. I’ve got no energy, no lust to work on my projects, no oomph to get shit done. What’s worse, I forget why I even want to do any of my projects. When I look back on the weeks of burn out, it seems like sinking but I know that when I was living it, I didn’t realize I was going down. I didn’t realize what it was at all, until I woke up from that haze of procrastination.

But, this time, I steered into it. I tried not to panic or question it. I blew February watching Netflix, listening to podcasts, reading books, and writing fanfiction. (And I went to the day job, so I wasn’t literally pajamas 24/7–but mentally I was.) My lists of to-do’s piled up and I was a ghost on social media.

Every time I’ve burned out, this time included, I’ve reached the point where I think, “Oh shit, I am never going to get anything done again. This is it. This is all I’ll ever want to do.” And it’s never been true. There comes a day, when I wake from the burn out like a storm has passed and suddenly I don’t want to watch TV or write fanfics anymore. Suddenly I have energy again and ideas for my stories and a desire to tackle social media and get out there and interact with people.

It’s taken me years to figure out, but I always come back. So, I try not to panic when I don’t have it in me to do everything–or anything. Instead, I try to listen to my body and what it needs, whether that’s a nap, or to binge watch soap operas, or write fanfics, or eat pancakes. I can’t do everything all the time. Sometimes my to-do’s pile up. And that’s okay, because I can do it later. I think the trick, for me, is recognizing and respecting my own limits and not making myself feel bad for them.

This picture below is one I took the day after I woke up from my hazy February. I think I got more done on the 1st of March than I did the whole two months before and this week I’m tackling the editing of a ghost story I wrote last October and it’s going great!  So, I’m going to leave this here for Future Me, in her next burn out, to look at and remember that she’s great at this! …But she doesn’t have to be great at it every damn day.

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