Hello, friends! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to post a blog. I’ve started many new posts and topics, but haven’t been able to finish very many. My absence is a good thing, though! It means I’m being productive outside of the internet world. More specifically, it means I’m dedicating more time to what, I’m sure, many of you readers are most excited for: my sophomore release Every Bright and Broken Thing. Anyway, here’s some updates from the book-o-sphere and some thoughts and tips on conquering writer’s block.
Book & Writing Updates:
1) Love and the Sea and Everything in Between is a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards! I don’t think the winners will be announced until September, but this is still amazing!
2) I am currently in the middle of what I hope will be the last couple rounds of edits on Every Bright and Broken Thing. As far as plot, character, and theme the story is polished. Right now, I’m doing a read-through on my own and making notes of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that just need tweaked, refined, or altogether deleted. So, the story itself is done! It’s just being refined more and more with every passing second. J
3) Some of you may have seen me on my author Instagram (@brianmcbrideauthor) talking a lot about my newest WIP (Work-In-Progress), Sons of Slaughter. SOS is unlike anything I’ve written to date. It’s gritty, edgy, raw, and even thrilling. What’s surprised many based on the way I’ve described it and the snippets I’ve shared is that it’s actually a YA Contemporary! It’s not a paranormal werewolf fic, despite having some serious wolf-man vibes. It’s not even a violent thriller, despite being set in a small, backwoods town in the PNW. It’s a story about coming to terms with where you’re from and taking control over where you’re going. About the battlefields that exist both within you and around you. I couldn’t be more excited about this story. It’s going to be intense. I’m going to delve into mental health issues like PTSD and Psychosis and social issues like domestic violence and teen pregnancy. It’s going to be gritty and bloody and raw and… AH. I’m excited. I also just reached 10,000 in the first draft and am aiming for about 90,000 overall! We’ll see, though. 🙂 Right now, I just want to get the story out on the page. Besides, my editing process tends to add to my word count rather than take away from it. Haha.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I want to talk about writer’s block. If you’re a writer, you probably know this term. You’ve probably experienced its effects firsthand.
Conquering Writer’s Block
I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day, Olivia Bennett (@oliviajthewordshaker on Insta!) about this. She made a statement that she doesn’t believe in writer’s block anymore. I confessed that neither do I. Our reasoning behind this was actually very similar. Our freshman novels (Love and the Sea and Everything in Between and A Cactus in the Valley respectively) were both deeply personal and keenly emotional labors of love for us. We poured a lot of our hearts and personal feelings and experiences into them. For me, Love and the Sea took about 4 years to write, edit, and publish. It was a long journey. Seasons of writer’s block would last months at a time. During which time, I didn’t write anything. Nada. Zilch. I wanted to eventually be a NYT Bestselling Author and yet I wasn’t even working on any books.
Finally, as I shared in a previous post, I came to a point where I was done with it and I just sat down, finished it up, and put it out there. And it was like the gates of heaven opened over me. Perhaps Love and the Sea being such a deeply personal story, I had to finish it in order to feel like I could move on. Perhaps letting writer’s block get the better of me was just the rookie mistake of a debut author.
What’s interesting is that the same month I finally published Love and the Sea I also started writing my sophomore novel, Every Bright and Broken Thing for NaNoWriMo. Just like I did with Love and the Sea during 2014’s NaNoWriMo, I finished Every Bright in 30 days. Then, I immediately did my second draft edits, sought beta-readers for drafts 3 and for primarily for content edits, and am now finishing up line edits in anticipation of its Summer release. Then, as I began the publishing process for Every Bright, I began my third novel, Sons of Slaughter and am anticipating its release in the first half of 2020. I’m a machine right now. Three novels in a row, each potentially releasing within months of each other. And many more novel ideas that have the potential to become something great. For many writers, this seems like an unattainable fantasy. Many probably think I never deal with “writer’s block.” And the truth is that I don’t. Not anymore.
Something I told Olivia the other day during our conversation is that if you want to make writing your career, you have to treat it like a career even before it actually becomes one. That means dedicating time, money, and energy toward it. That means discipline. Sometimes, that means long hours. Sometimes, that means sacrificing certain freedoms and pleasures (within reason; rest is also a major key to success and I recommend every author take a short sabbatical between writing projects.) But, you may ask, what about when I do all those things, but I just don’t have the inspiration or motivation?
Let me tell you what I’ve learned: the number one way to fuel your own inspiration and motivation is to feed yourself the things that inspire/motivate you both creatively and personally. A tool that I’ve started using for each of my novels is what I call a “Novel Profile.” This profile contains things like the novel’s rough synopsis, tag-line, main character lists and profiles, theme songs, aesthetic, vibe, themes, etc… I also recently started creating lists for each novel where I outline the different books, movies, TV shows, and music that influence or inspire that specific story. (Below is an example of my list of influences for Sons of Slaughter.)
What I’ve learned having been recently a rookie author and now a semi-seasoned author is that writer’s block exists where it is allowed to exist. You always have the means and the ability within yourself to push through whatever it is that’s blocking your productivity or inspiration. That doesn’t mean that if you’re a rookie author facing writer’s block, then your work or even you are invalidated! I think conquering writer’s block in the pursuit of a professional writing career is something every writer will have to face on their own terms and in their own ways. But I firmly believe that it’s well within our control to prevent a lifestyle of constantly being blocked in one way or another.
So, if you have lots of inspiration, but are having trouble setting your nose to the grindstone, here are some tips:
- Get a weekly/monthly planner and start to block out segments of time dedicated to writing that scene!
- Write whenever you can! Take your laptop with you to the doctor’s office because Lord knows you’re going to be there awhile! Send novel notes or short scenes back and forth via email! Utilize your smart phone’s notes app!
- Set realistic goals. Instead of looking at your novel that only has 3,000 words so far and your ultimate goal is to get to 90,000, set daily goals. 1,000 words a day. 2,000 words.
- Cut out things that waste your time and keep you from being productive! (TV, video games, etc…)
- Commit! If this is what you want, keep going after it! If this is just a hobby, don’t pressure yourself!
If you have the determination and the discipline to actually sit down and write, but can’t seem to find the inspiration, here are some tips:
- Create Novel Profiles!
- Get a bulletin board and/or a white board for your desk and put goals and literally anything that inspires you on them.
- Start a Pinterest! I’m a very visual person and literally nothing gets me inspired to write like browsing Pinterest!
- Create a playlist!
- Read books, watch movies, and watch TV shows that are in a similar genre or style as your WIP!
- And my favorite: surround yourself with creative people! If you don’t follow fellow writers and authors on Instagram, do it. The best decision I ever made was creating a separate IG account for my books and writing. I’m inspired daily by the people in my community who are succeeding in leaps and bounds with their beautiful stories!
And that’s what I’ve learned about writer’s block! If you have any other insights or tips, feel free to share them in the comments below!!
*Sons of Slaughter List of Influences
Books that inspire Sons of Slaughter
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Challenger Deep by Neal Shusternman
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- Looking For Alaska by John Green
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Movies that inspire Sons of Slaughter
- King Jack
- Kings of Summer
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Before I Disappear
- About Alex
- Dead Poets Society
- Good Will Hunting
TV Shows that inspire Sons of Slaughter
- Stranger Things
- 13 Reasons Why
- Teen Wolf
Music that inspires Sons of Slaughter
- “Here I Am” by Bryan Adams
- “The Call” by Regina Spektor
- “Native Tongue” by Switchfoot
- “Kids” by OneRepublic
- “Demons” by Imagine Dragons
- “Runaway” by Needtobreathe