Becoming Unstuck

cat-head-stuckWell, now you’ve done it. You went there. And now you’re stuck. Not just a little stuck. Bad stuck. Like, devastatingly stuck. Like, how the hell did I get here stuck. Like, I’m ready to walk away stuck. Don’t do it. It’s good work. It’s salvageable.  You just have to use your head to get back on track.

The first step to getting unstuck is acknowledging the fact that you are really stuck. You’ve gone off the rails and now you’re at a point where the story your writing is not the story you want to tell. It happens. Sometimes it’s a good thing. “The characters just have a mind of their own and they took me to this awesome new place full of possibilities.” But, remember, you’re not there. You’ve entered into a realm of aimless wandering and meandering plots. You’ve got problems.

Ok, so you’ve admitted the problem. Now, it’s time to assess the damage. How far into being stuck are you? A chapter? Two? Five? You’ve written the entire novel and realized none of it makes any sense after the first page? Not even the gods can help you, my friend. So, it’s time to read through what you’ve done. If you’ve outlined, it may help to see where your story and your outline starts to divert and why. Did you follow a fascinating plot bunny down a bottomless pit? Or did you stick to the outline, only to have it meander? If you can pinpoint where the train started going off the rails, you’re a step closer to resolving your stuck-ed-ness.

Now, you’ve identified the sticking point. Depending on where you discovered the problem, it may mean rewriting a few chapters or, gods forbid, tossing a few completely. Deep breath. It’s ok. This is part of the process. Trim a finger or two to save the hand. In this case, it’ll grow back. I promise. And, it’ll be so much better. Your story will thank you. If you’ve really taken the time to assess the situation, you’ll save yourself some work, but don’t be afraid to cut and start over. Remember, we’ve admitted to the problem back at step 1. It’s no use going forward, so taking a few steps back and taking a different approach is probably what your story needs.

Lastly, in order to avoid another sticking point, try and give yourself a solid path ahead. Create a detailed outline of at least the next couple of chapters. Stick to it… at least until you get over the hump of what stopped you before. That’s your new goal. Get past that sticking point. Then you could be off to the races. The floodgates will open and reams of smart, taught storytelling will flow from your fingers. Well, ok… maybe not exactly like that, but you’ll feel a lot better having been able to move on.

I hope this little method helps. I get stuck all the time and it can be frustrating. It can make a writer stop writing. But, we know that’s not the answer.

Have a way of getting unstuck? Be sure to share in the comments below! Thanks for stopping by. In the meantime, write on!

 

It was a good week

I had a good week. It wasn’t phenomenal, but good in general. I hope you can say the same.

Writing-wise, it felt really good to get back into some of my old work. It’s been too long for some, but reading through it again, it reminded me of why I love to write. It’s discovering those little moments of truth that strike deep at an emotion. It’s not superficial. It doesn’t feel forced. It’s a genuine human emotion being felt by people, not characters. And that’s a powerful thing to be able to relate. We know what it is when we come across it, but to be able to put it into words is something else.

Another thing that happened this week was that I realized why I’d lost the fire to write. The irony is that it was something I’d warned others of and it’s, “Don’t get caught up in the minutiae of self-publishing.” It’s so easily done because you are responsible for everything. The problem is, you can spend a lot of time on all the little things, and forget to do the most important thing of all; write. I was so obsessed with what I thought I had to do, I didn’t bother doing what I needed to do. And, the whole process just stopped being fun. And that’s no bueno.

So, I’m going back at it with the intention of simply writing good stories and publishing them in their own time. Sure, I’ll post here (once weekly if I can) and on Twitter, but I’m not going to bother with a lot of the other things I used to do. The story and the writing are the most important parts. It’s what I fell in love with so long ago.

Thanks for swinging by. I hope you have a fantastic week.

Nope, that fire’s not a mirage

If anyone ever says writing is easy, laugh in their face and walk away. They’re insane and should be shunned like the delusional miscreant they are. While writing can be a joyful, fulfilling experience, it can also be filled with enough despair and self-doubt to make anyone go running for the hills.

I reached that point over a year ago. And, while it wasn’t the first time I’d reached that point, it was certainly the most extensive. Writing requires dedication and drive. But, somewhere along the way, I lost the fire. I felt like a hack. A pretender. Someone who just wanted to be a writer, but who lacked wherewithal to actually do what was necessary to be one. This, after having already published 3 novels. I just didn’t feel like it was in me.

I stopped reading. I essentially walked away from my writing. Even when I attended my writers group meetings, I felt like a sham. Just going through the motions in order to not expose the reality of where I was. Absolutely lost.

A few months ago, I started a new job. It’s been great and creatively challenging. And, despite working hours that would make writing a challenge, I started to feel the fire building again. I decided not to push it too hard. I started reading again. I jotted notes down. I reassessed some of my old writing. I started looking at the unfinished business of my trilogies. I checked my social media accounts. I looked at my Amazon reviews for the first time in forever. 5 new 5-stars for my first book. I nearly cried. People like what I write. I started a story and I owe them, at the very least, a conclusion to that story. And I know I have more in me. Most importantly, I started writing again. Nothing consequential. Still taking small steps. But, the fire is there. I just have to keep stoking it.

Having Plot Problems? Try Out This Cool Site

PeriodicTable

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

 

http://www.designthroughstorytelling.net/periodic/

Special Thanks…

NBTMR Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon Tour Banner

…to the Books in the Hall blog for running a last-minute spotlight on my review tour. Head over and show them some love. Be sure to leave a comment and sign up for the giveaway I’m sponsoring. Due to technical difficulties, today’s review has been rescheduled to the 31st, when I’ll have two reviews on one day! 😀

Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon – Review Tour

NBTMR Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon Tour Banner

I’ve signed up with the lovely ladies from Goddess Fish Promotions (Note: because they run erotica promotions, the link causes blogger to pop up an adult content warning; however, I’ve never seen anything on the site to make me regret opening the link at work) to run a review blog tour for Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon (which also happens to be on sale this week). This 4-stop tour begins today over at Word Menagerie and continues weekly until the 7th of January. Check out the full schedule below. I hope you’ll help out by stopping by these sites and checking out their reviews (whether it’s my book or someone else’s).

December 10: Word Menagerie
December 17: Queen of All She Reads
December 31: Unabridged Andra’s
January 7: Writer Wonderland

When all is said and done, I’ll be posting my thoughts on this review tour. As this is my first time doing something like this, I have no expectations at this point.

Do you have experience with blog tours? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by! 😀

Ping Backs

So, who would think that linking your article to another website might actually drive traffic back to your own? Well, it does! Two weeks ago, I wrote an article titled Self-publishing Isn’t. In that article, I linked to a few resources. Well, a few days later, I noticed that one of my traffic sources was coming from one of those resources, a fairly popular website. I backtracked these links and found that, on their website (sfwa.org), they list “comments” from other blogs in the sidebar. In 2 weeks, it’s driven ~50 visitors to my site, which is pretty nice.

So, does this mean I should be sure to link to a popular website in every blog post? No. It means that a well thought out article with relevant links can drive traffic back to you in the long run. Do it too often and I think it starts to look spammy. I guess this isn’t really news to most, but I’ve linked to plenty of sites in the past and seen little in the way of return traffic.

Do back links work for you? Let us know in comments and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Promoting on eReader News Today

ereadernewstoday

I have an ad running today to promote my Kindle Countdown for Danny Dirks over at eReader News Today (ENT). I paid $15 for inclusion in their email list, a post to their blog, and a Facebook post. Their Facebook page has ~475k followers, but knowing Facebook, only 400 people will see that post. ENT recently changed their advertising format to mirror that of BookBub, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near the same scale (yet). At $15, I only have to sell ~22 books to recoup the fee. ENT’s book of the day feature is much more reliable, but nearly impossible to land. They have a one-time submission at the beginning of the year and then fill all of their slots in one shot. But, with a rate of $15, it’s hard to not give their new email venture a try. There are certainly more expensive and less effective venues out there. Stay tuned as I’ll post a follow up later this week for those interested in the returns.

Have experience with ENT? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!