C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Ever feel like a second-class citizen? Of course you do. Read this.

I last published on Christmas day, 2019. I’m very proud of Citizen Second Class and entered the year eager to dive into producing more novels and audiobooks. Then COVID-19 hit and, expecting to die horribly at any moment, the fire in my belly was extinguished. My OCD tendencies turned all their energies to wiping down doorknobs, hiding in my blanket fort, battling insomnia, and nagging my son about safety protocols. (To be fair, though he’s lost a year of school, the kid’s a real sport and I’m glad to have him on our team.)

As 2020 ground slowly on (what was May, 83 years ago?) my creativity and productivity faded. I’m still not the killer crusher I was on the word count front. I am improving for sure, but I still feel like I’m crawling out of a deep hole. Publishing five times a year without sacrificing quality or my senses was normal for me. I expect to publish two new books by Christmas: a prequel to This Plague of Days set in Ireland and a novel in the Citizen Second Class universe (which looks remarkably like plague-ridden Florida and Texas at the moment.)

I have a lot of books, so instead of writing, much of this year has been devoted to shorter bursts of fun stuff and to-do list chores: posting to social media, marketing and Amazon ads. The administrative stuff I used to do between writing sprints became the main thing. I’ve turned that model upside down and I’m back to prioritizing writing again. I promise myself to do one adult task a day. The rest of the time is for diet, exercise, and getting my writing career back to firing on all cylinders.

What are my weapons in this battle?

  1. Distance and distancing. Sorry, Americans, but being Canadian is soothing me at the moment. It’s generally safer up here in America’s hat. However, my wife works in the school system and will be returning to work this fall. Our relatively safe situation could turn to shit quite easily. We haven’t figured out how to handle her return to work yet. Dousing her in hand sanitizer and setting her on fire at the end of each day has been discussed, but I’m told that proposition is “shelved.” I’m not sure what that means, but now I’m afraid to ask.
  2. I am Captain Comorbidity. If I get it, I’m in grave danger. To give myself a chance lest I wind up on a ventilator, I went vegan almost two months ago. I’m losing weight and trying to eliminate a couple of the pre-existing conditions that could mess me up permanently. It’s working pretty well so far. I feel better and lighter. I even started growing my own food in our quarantine garden. So far, that’s yielded some lettuce and a cucumber crop of one cucumber. (Follow my daily accountability posts on food, exercise and writing on Instagram at robertchazzchute.)
  3. Insomnia absolutely robs my productivity. I feel run over the next day and can’t work. It’s been bad for years. Since COVID, it got worse. I have a sleep specialist to help with my sleep disorders and I spoke to him this week. The news was a bit disappointing. All he really had for me was sleep hygiene (protocols I know intimately already). However, with no other way out, I doubled down. Last night, I got three hours sleep. Two nights in a row before that, however, I got seven fairly solid hours. After the good nights, I have creative days and crush my word count goals.

    Healing my sleep is a process. I’m sticking with it because the alternative is miserable. Besides, with me sleeping in the cool basement under an open window and She Who Must Be Obeyed still in our bedroom, her sleep has improved.
  4. I stay home, of course. With the sunny days, I’ve taken to working outside. The blanket fort is nice for cold weather. Getting fresh air and sunlight are parts of my sleep hygiene protocol. Writing on the back patio is quite pleasant. I’m getting more words down. Good words. Words to publish, words to last.

    If you can change where and when you work, you might change the negative associations you may have with the attempt to settle down behind the keyboard. Try reframing and you might like the picture better.
  5. Very few people feel like running hard every day (and those few are being chased). I mean, THE COUCH IS RIGHT THERE! Lazy is easy. Distractions are easy. Doing shit is hard.

    Here’s how to make it easier:

    The hardest part is pulling on your sneakers and getting out the door. If you don’t feel like running five or ten miles today, tell yourself you’re going light, an easy two miles, all downhill and slow, with a tall cold glass of Guinness at the end as a reward. Once you’re out the door, resting inertia is overcome. You’ll probably go farther.

    So it is with writing. Don’t tell yourself you’re writing a book today. Your just going to put down maybe 500 words and see how it goes. The hardest part is starting. After that, momentum will probably carry you beyond those first, modest goals. And if not, not. A little done consistently is better than nothing done ever. It’s okay to take a day off. Writing is fun, remember? If you try and you’re really not feeling it, it’s okay to take a little time to recharge. You’re the boss.
  6. As detailed last week, I’m using accountability to keep me going: progress meters (see mine and the link to get yours from my author site AllThatChazz.com.) I’m also enjoying word sprints each Sunday, inspired by the Mando Method Podcast.

    Harness the power of a pre-existing writing community post your word count success to Twitter with the hashtag MandoMethod. Let #MandoMethod know and maybe author extraordinaire Armand Rosamilia himself will give you an attaboy!

That covers accountability. What else you got, Rob?

A friend of mine, author Gordon Bonnet, wrote a very down-to-earth post about his travails with writer’s block…or is it really writer’s block? Could changing fonts really help? Gordon’s got the scientific goods on his excellent blog. Have some tea and load up on the sympathy as you read his post on Skeptophilia. The post is titled Font of Creativity

Anything else?


When all else fails, grit your teeth, bear down, and deliver that baby.

~ I write apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Find all my books and more blog posts at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: writing, writing advice, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When you are blocked

We are surrounded with things to write about, enough to fill all the novels you could write in a long lifetime. If you are feeling blocked, go down into your feelings. Mine your emotions and reactions to inform your characters.

We don’t have just one epidemic. Besides COVID-19, we have epidemics of:

  • loneliness
  • existential angst
  • ignorance
  • willful ignorance
  • plain old stupidity
  • fear
  • poverty
  • frustration
  • anger
  • sadness
  • grief
  • loss
  • claustrophobia
  • emptiness
  • loss of identity
  • feeling our best times are behind us
  • helplessness/lack of power

For drama to arise from conflict, before your narrative arrives at love, renewed love, redemption, or resolution, you’ll probably have to go deep on the lack of those ideals.

Name your poison. Write about it.

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Check out all his books at his author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: writing, writing advice, writing tips, ,

Deciding to Jump


Remember that summer feeling of standing on the edge of a swimming pool, convincing yourself to jump? The water is warm, but it’s colder than the air so it’s going to be a short shock. The swim will be great, but you still hesitate to make that leap. That’s my experience staring at a blinking cursor just now.

I just woke up from a nap. I can’t wait for the next nap. Do you find your sense of time is thrown off? March lasted eight weeks. It feels like April 1st was a month ago yet Friday whipped around again quickly, didn’t it? My internal clock is confuzzled and I’m having trouble getting things done.

I’m no Farmer Jones, but concerned about the security of the food supply chain, I started a garden. I’m waiting for seeds to arrive. I made cornbread this morning. I play Scrabble and Boggle on my phone a lot. The days slip away and each evening arrives as a fresh surprise. Where did the day go?

I did manage to write 2,000 words yesterday. I feel good about doing that much (or that little). I’m working on a prequel to This Plague of Days. For all the pages I’ve not written yet, I’m giving myself a break. We’re all in extraordinary circumstances. Whatever you do to cope, it’s more or less okay to accomplish more or less. Circumstances are stressful enough without piling on more stress.

For me, getting started on a writing session is the hardest part. Once I take that leap and start swimming, I feel much better. It’s wonderful to lose yourself to a story. I love to read and write. Books make the world go away. Maybe framing the work that way will help to make that jump into creativity a little easier.

For your entertainment and edification, here are this week’s updates from my author site:

My Movie Moments

Preparing for a Post-pandemic World

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Find your next escape from the world at AllThatChazz.com.



Filed under: COVID19, getting it done, pandemic, This Plague of Days, Writers, writing, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to crack writer’s block. No whining. No excuses.

There are many distractions between your bed and your writing desk. Some suggestions to discipline the monkey mind:

1. Well, write in bed then! (Pee bottle or diapers optional.)

2. Work on a computer without Internet access. Unplug the modem or get your pet rat to chew on the wires if necessary.

3. Get your spouse to activate the parental controls (so they have the code). Congratulations! Your distracting porn addiction just vanished. 

4. Commit to scheduling writing time just as you would a doctor’s appointment, the gym or any other important job. You know your writing is important work, too, right?

5. Make your commitments public. Failure yields public humiliation. Success gets you a reward. Make a bet with a writing buddy or do writing sprints in social media. Report your progress, or lack of it, so you’ll do better tomorrow.

6. Defend your writing time. Wield dual ice axes, if necessary. A sign on that door you close marking your designated writing time makes a clear stand. Your writing retreat does not have to be an expensive, remote cabin in the Rockies. It’s as nearby as the word, “No.”

7. Get out of the house and write elsewhere: Starbucks, the library or at your day job. (Write on your lunch hour if the boss keeps close tabs on you.)

8. Wear headphones and use the Brainwave apps that help you focus. Or pump nothing into your headphones. Or be like Stephen King and rock out to Grand Funk Railroad as you compose. Use WriteRoom. Whatever works for you.

9. Unplug and go write the first draft by hand. Some writers feel the words come easier when they’re connecting brain to arm to hand to pen to paper.

10. Work with your biorhythms, but find your sweet spot when your focus is best: late at night or early morning often allows you to work without interruption.

11. Got a writing group? Shape it so you can make it do double duty: make it a day care club. When my kids were little, playdates (and their nap time) were opportunities to get work done. Communal babysitting gets the kids entertaining each other and allows the writing to continue when you organize and rotate the playdates from house to house.

12. Protect your brain. This goes beyond time management. For instance, when you notice you need a nap after eating bread, take the hint. Maybe it’s the gluten making you sleepy. Thanks to a helpful reader, I’m trying a couple of products from Onnit.com and I do feel and think better lately. Exercise doesn’t just get blood to your body’s muscles. Better blood supply revs up brain muscle, too. Since dumping processed foods, losing weight and upping exercise, I’m sharper. The walls are alive, I see into souls and I write harder and longer.

13. Just start. You’re full of resistance and distractions and excuses at first, but once you begin, the words and worlds will begin to flow. Set a timer and tell yourself you’ll write for ten minutes. What? You can’t take ten minutes? Sure you can. Don’t be a weak whiner! Take ten minutes. By the time the timer goes off, you won’t want to stop.

14. Write in short, energetic bursts. Like going to the gym, many people feel they can’t do anything worthwhile unless they have big blocks of time to commit to their projects. For many of us who don’t have that luxury (and hardly anyone has that luxury) we’re actually sabotaging ourselves with that attitude. Consistency works better than bingeing in the long-term.

15. Take a course, go to a conference or read a book to energize yourself and get excited about writing again. We moan too much about writing and forget how fun it is until we’re back to doing it. If you aren’t having fun writing, you must be doing it wrong.

BONUS

Most important, remember why you’re doing this. Hold on to the Why so you’ll overcome obstacles to the How. You are not merely a consumer. You’re a productive writer, pursuing your dreams and telling stories for fun and profit. Don’t put your dreams aside only so others can achieve their goals. You’re important, too.

Filed under: getting it done, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

The writer, depression and getting the word music to play again

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, with jokes.

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, with jokes.

A fellow writer meant well when she told me that if you can allow anyone to discourage you from writing, you shouldn’t be a writer. That sounds tough-minded and strong, doesn’t it? It would be good advice to take, but unfortunately, I’m still human. Darn the luck, my skin is no thicker or thinner than it ever was. It will surprise no one, given the sort of dark stuff I often write, that I obsess over the negative. I do not remember sunny days. That’s who I am. Maybe I could fix it with some talk therapy, gene manipulation and a personality transplant.

So, yes, rude email hurt can me and my productivity. A bad review can ruin the morning and robs me of a night’s rest. I’m prone to depression and yes, I’m feeling it now. Due to several factors, I haven’t faced the blank screen bravely in days. I’ve been ill and trying to keep up with the demands of my new day job and, not to whine, but the depletion started with one condescending, presumptuous email. 

I’m letting a terrorist win. The worry treadmill is running. I’ve written ten books, but the negative cyclotron has kicked in. “How can I be a writer? I can’t even type properly.”

When I observe the disparity between Goodreads ratings and Amazon ratings (work is often valued one star less on GR even if the review sounds equally positive), I have an urge to reevaluate my life choices. If I’d gone to that Second City audition or to film school instead…but that way madness lies. At least until I fix the time machine. But enough about me.

Murders+Among+Dead+Trees+1121-1

What to do when you’re feeling down and not writing*:

1. Call a friend. Do not talk about your problem. Talk about what your friend wants to talk about.

To shore up your ego defences, you’ve already read and reread your happy reviews. Your friend isn’t going to tell you anything new and you’ve already got your “Atta-boy!”

The point of this phone call is to break the obsessive cycle of repetitive arguments, cutting retorts and vengeful homicide plots running through your head. This is a time for jokes. Ask about your friend’s life. 

2. Okay, so, being human, naturally you want another “Atta-boy!” Engage a fan who can’t wait for the next book. A little positive pressure may be all you need to get back to writing the next book in the series.

3. Write a blog post to vent, but only if you must and your friends aren’t answering their phones. (Ooh! Meta!)

4. Remind yourself that this is the firstiest of First World Problems and set the oven timer. How much more wallowing do you plan to allow yourself? More than one more pathetic hour and you’ll burn your life.

The three most powerful words are “I love you.”

The two most powerful? “Begin again.”

~ from Crack the Indie Author Code

5. Read the negative reviews of your favorite books. Choose the classics that you think everyone simply must adore. Realize some people will not be pleased.

Now in paperback!

Now in paperback!

Ev-er.

Or they’re trolls feeding an emotional need that has nothing to do with literary criticism. Or they’re too stupid to get you. I used to think that all readers, because they can read, must be smarter than average. Read some one-star reviews, especially the ones that bring down an author’s rating because Amazon didn’t deliver the book fast enough or they don’t like reading on a kindle and would have preferred paper. Clearly, my supposition about all readers being intelligent was not true.

6. Help somebody else with something. Shovel the walk and bring in the wood and be productive. Productiveness is a habit. This tip works better is you don’t do it for yourself. Do it for the old neighbor with the bum ticker and the broken leg.

7. Read something good that inspires you. Remember this feeling of transcending the great, dirty world? This delicious escape is why you are a writer. 

8. Realize that nothing will be perfect and the critics might have a point about something. Correct errors and move on.

9. But if they’re too harsh and stop you from writing at all, you’ve allowed a rude outlier to rob you, and most readers, of joy. It’s too easy for trolls to throw bombs. You write books, not a few, nasty paragraphs. We’re not allowed to critique reviewers so they’re safe from what you’re feeling now. Don’t let bullies win. Not letting bullies win is another reason you’re a writer.

10. Bing! The oven timer went off.

Start writing again. Anything. Just start. Within five minutes, you’ll be sucked into the other world again. Just get through that first five minutes and write. You aren’t facing a whole book. You don’t have to worry about word count or bad reviews or bruised egos or where to find a Luger, thick rope and kerosene at three in the morning. All you have to do is start writing and get through the first five minutes. Maybe less.

You can gut out five minutes. You don’t even have to act tough to start. Just start. An appreciative audience is out in the future, waiting and hoping you’ll get through the next five minutes. Maybe less.You will fall back into the groove and the word music will begin to play. And a one, and a two and a three…

If none of these suggestions work, call a doctor. Maybe it’s exercise, kale shakes and an anti-depressant you need to elude the mean reds.

 

Filed under: book reviews, publishing, web reviews, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#Nanowrimo: You do not have Writer’s Block

This week I found inspiration for a new character. I got it from the Latin word “occubus”, meaning to rest (especially in the grave.) I love my Latin dictionaries and will miss them when I move on to projects beyond This Plague of Days. A blind stab, a finger pointing on a random page and wham! Something new to play with! A new chapter! That’s the joy of discovery in writing. The ideas don’t always flow so easily, but if you’re in a good place, the words always come.

Readers ask us where we get our ideas.

If you’ve made it out of the horrors of high school (or perhaps even more so if you didn’t), you’ve got enough material to start writing. That supply of disappointment, embarrassment and angst will last for your career.

Conflicts, fisticuffs and the world news are all fodder for the mind mill. Family, relationships, lack of relationships? Cannibalize! Books you read will feed books you’ll write. Whether you’re a monk on a mountain or a suburban wage slave, you are surrounded with input for your output.

An afternoon walk can spark an idea, especially if that walk takes you to the local courthouse. Arraignment hearings are best. One long court trial might yield a book. Bearing witness to the parade of arrests from last night will give you all the books you can write and make you wish you had the ability to type faster.

We are all dreamers, putting information together in new ways for new takes on ancient stories. If there is such a thing as writer’s block, it is not because of a lack of ideas to play with.

Writer’s block comes from a loss of enjoyment of play.

That sounds more like depression, doesn’t it? Or laziness that springs from too much sugar and wheat and not enough kale. If you think you’re suffering writer’s block, don’t complain about a muse deficiency. You can’t fight that, but you could fight an amusement deficiency.

A long time ago, I stopped writing for several years.

My “block” was really about rage. A co-worker annoyed me mightily. I went home and began to write a short story that was basically a tantrum on the page. I got about four lines into the revenge fantasy and realized, I don’t want to feel this way and I don’t want to write this. I didn’t write again until I fixed my life (or at least repaired my lifeboat.) I was unhappy with what I was doing and, instead of rage on the page, I resolved to change the underlying problem (i.e. working with twits.)

We often romanticize the miserable writer working in poverty as the creativity bubbles out of all that sadness. Mostly nonsense. You don’t get a book written when you’re so depressed you can’t face picking up a pencil. I mean that literally. I remember lying atop my unmade bed (a grubby futon on the floor, actually) and thinking, I can’t. I just can’t. The pencil stayed on the floor.

Depression sucks energy away and writing demands we put energy out. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Writer’s block is a vague, disempowering notion that, ironically, is a dangerous fiction. Instead, focus on concrete variables you can change: income, time management, who’s sleeping beside you, what goes down your throat, the exercise you do and what you allow into your mind.

Sure, inspiration is everywhere.

But maybe you need a doctor.

 

Filed under: NanNoWriMo, What about you?, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

#NaNoWriMo: Story stuck and stalled? Try this.

You’ll probably get stuck from time to time. Most everyone does, so don’t panic.

If you get stuck often, outline more to save writing time and stay on track. Keep in mind that outlines are merely guidelines. You’re just dating your outline casually. It’s not serious and you don’t have to marry it. With the shadow of commitment gone, you still have your free and fun, bright and shiny creative mojo working for you.

I’m a pantser, but I do have an idea where my stories are headed. We may take a winding trip to get to our destination, but we will get there, hoping we won’t get stuck and be forced to back up thirty pages or so before we can move forward again. I’ve had to do that. It sucks, sucks away forward momentum and saps confidence. So let’s crash through that mental block and get unstuck.

Solutions to get out of the ditch

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z's next and it's coming for you and the Queen's corgis, among others.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z’s next and it’s coming for you and the Queen’s corgis, among others.

A random, alluring word, place, fact or event can give spinning wheels traction. For instance, the word “chiroptera” gave me a new direction when I wrote Season 2 of This Plague of Days. Sometimes I choose words, events or facts at random and noodle with them to see how they might fit into the narrative. Or I’ll draw from mythology, philosophy, politics or religion to discover new dimensions in the narrative.

Here’s the surprise: I always find a way to make those intriguing things fit naturally into my story.

I bet you can, too. Don’t load up on $10 words when a nickel word will do, of course…or at least don’t do it for its own sake or to show off. However, if something seemingly random can serve your story, use it (or dump it if it fails.) Readers like learning things as much as you do. They like characters with depth and to discover hidden significance behind meaning.

Get random

Autism, Latin, the Existential Abyss and references to Superman. That's pretty random, but it all fits.

Autism, Latin, the Existential Abyss and references to Superman. That’s pretty random, but it all fits.

This exercise in the writing process is about bouncing new electrical flashes through the writer’s brain, making new connections and getting synapses firing to see nonlinear possibilities. Frequently, you can find something new that influences the story simply by opening a dictionary and pointing. An atlas and a Wikipedia search might give you a random fact that sparks something. I found Gas City, for instance. The name alone captured my imagination and got me thinking about a new track to follow in Season 2. New characters and furious battles evolved from the way that slapped my brain.

If you’ve got an area of interest (baseball, plumbing, woodwork, salmon fishing, animal husbandry, whatever) work it in to give your characters depth. I’ve got a sensitive soldier with expertise in military history who shows up in the zombie apocalypse. I’ve also got an Irish cop from a tiny Irish resort. The place informs the character. These are the sort of factors that make the people on the page real. Jack (Jacqueline) Spencer majored in Elizabethan poetry. That makes her feel pretty useless when society collapses, but her development now has an arc. Up from zero, she gains experience on the road east to a hoped for haven from the apocalypse.

For me? It’s pathology that fascinates.

I studied anatomy first and was awed by our biological complexity. Then I studied Merck’s Manual and I’ve been a hypochondriac ever since. It’s startling how fragile we are, so pathology often finds its way into my books, one way or another. I know a lot about how the body breaks, so I’m sure you can guess how that might play into a crime novel.

I know a lot about migraines (and the many variations of headaches.) His inability to act shows up in one of my WIPs and becomes crucial to the protagonist’s predicament when the cops come calling, asking for an alibi. My protagonist in This Plague of Days is autistic which, naturally, gives him a unique point of view on the end of the world. Another character has Desmoid tumours. This is a rare condition, but it turns out to be very relevant to the story. Her disease saves her from a worse fate than Desmoid tumours (in a way I can’t divulge yet, of course. That’s Season 3 stuff.)

Take a fragment and build your next chapter around it. Make the fragment an element.

These general suggestions are random sparks. If an atlas or a dictionary or a quick Google search can make your story catch fire, and if you can make these new variables seamless, you’ll find their inclusion can get you unstuck.

Therefore:

a summer camp in Columbus, Ohio with too many mosquitoes

the ruins of a castle hidden under heavy snow

a rusted can opener, forgotten in the kitchen’s junk drawer

a tippy chair with one short leg

angina

Captain Cooke’s death

her mother’s wedding ring inscription

Try one of some of those for a start. How might they fit in your narrative? Keep going and don’t worry if you get stuck. The next step will come to you and, if not, go find that next step. Finish your story.

Tips and inspiration for the writer's journey to publication.

Tips and inspiration for the writer’s journey to publication.

~ Hi. I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I wrote a couple of books full of inspiration to get writers to get their books done. I also write about a kid on the autistic spectrum facing the end of the world, zombies who aren’t really zombies and vampires who aren’t really vampires. There are also jokes and Latin proverbs. It’s…oddly engaging and does not suck. See all the books here.

I also host the All That Chazz podcast and the Cool People Podcast. To learn more about This Plague of Days, go to ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

Filed under: NanNoWriMo, Writers, Writing exercise, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TOP 10: Get your writing motivation back & finish your book

Pie chart of Wikipedia content by subject as o...

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes you lose the thread. You burn through the first 40 or 50 pages and then…now what?  Augusten Burroughs doesn’t believe in writer’s block. He says that if you think you have writer’s block, write about the block and you’ll find your way out. Frankly, that hasn’t worked for me. This is what I do to churn the letter butter and make it thick:

1. Reread the last ten pages before you got stuck. There’s probably something there to riff from.

2. Reread the first ten pages and get back to where you were headed to begin with so you can find the trail you lost.

3. If you’ve got an outline, go write an easy scene. If the book is a ball small enough that you can hold it in one hand–and you make it small by using an outline–you can skip forward to a scene you are sure of.

4. When you’re stuck, go back to the characters. What’s the special need and want of the character (often not the same thing in a layered, complex text)? Find the truth of that character. What does the character do next?

5. Search for the emotional truth between and among your characters. Write that.

6. Search the conflict between and among your characters. Maybe you’re stuck because your characters are too agreeable.

7. Change the setting. Too many characters stand around in living rooms talking at each other instead of engaging the world. It’s not a stage play. A novel has as large a canvas as you can imagine. Get your characters up and out in the world where things happen.

8. Think visually. What would the movie of your book look like? What are people doing? Do they have special skills? Draw on your own experience or do a little research to get you through a scene. (Do as little research as possible on the front end, though. I wrote a story in which a character got pulled into a saw at a lumber mill. First I wrote the scene. Then I consulted an expert who said it shouldn’t be a saw but a machine called an edger.)

9. Still stuck? My trick is to get out a book (usually a dictionary) and choose three words at random. Work those words into your next chapter. (Clicking random in Wikipedia works great for this strategy, too.) This will take you places you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

10. Take a break. Change your setting. Trying to tough it out so you produce typing but no worthwhile writing is not working smart. Do something totally different. Go get chased by a bear, move, run, go watch people, have an espresso or nap. Refresh your writing mind by demanding nothing of it. The world will have to wait until you’re back where you need to be.

Filed under: Writers, Writing exercise, writing tips, , , , ,

(Top 10 Things) Writers Fear:

1. the blank page. And yet, ideas for stories are all around us. Look in newspapers, magazines, real life, fantasy, the net, your dreams and in the back of your sock drawer. Everywhere. Augusten Burroughs says if you experience writer’s block, then write about that. That will prime your pump.

2. that someone, somehow, will steal their ideas. You can’t copyright an idea, and that’s a good thing. Ideas are cheap because (see #1) ideas are everywhere. Execution and completion is what counts. Lots of people have book ideas but never type long enough to even get to the starting line. You’re the best one to take your idea through to fruition. Also, come up with an idea and pitch it to 100 people. One hundred different stories will shoot out from pulling that one trigger. (Note: I won’t steal your ideas. I’ve got plenty of ideas! I’ve got more ideas than I have life left to execute them all! …gulp.)

3. failure. Yeah? Who doesn’t? Failure is in not even trying. Nobody likes a whiner. Shut up and type.

4. success. Just kidding. Nobody really fears success. Change, sometimes, but never success. Fear of success is something somebody made up in  80s to sell self-help books. Who still believes that now?

5. criticism. You won’t join a critique group so you won’t learn (or will learn very slowly.) That’s how I learned very slowly. The truth is, not everybody is going to like you or what you write. That won’t change, so accept that and look for people who give you caring yet constructive criticism. Flush all others. As Walt Disney said, “I’m not gay.” No, no. He said, “Always move forward.”

6. rejection. People very rarely get a book deal from the first agent they approach. (See #5) Not everybody is going to like what you write. If it’s any good, eventually someone will. Then you can crow all you want about all the publishers, editors and agents who said no before you found the one genius who agrees with you. Your definition of a genius is anyone who loves your manuscript and is in a position to market it to the world.

CHAZZ DEFINITION OF GENIUS:

Anyone who agrees with Chazz.

7. revision. But your best writing is your rewriting. You know that. So go do it. Yeah, it really is that simple. That’s the same way everybody else who hates revision bulled their way through.

8. that our best friends will achieve astonishing literary success and we won’t. I guess you should start typing faster if you want to even have a horse in that race then, huh?

9. poverty. So make sure you get paid for what you write. Send out more queries. Suffer the day job until you achieve escape velocity. Keep the day job and enjoy both with a little less sleep. Be so adorable someone else will support you while you write (I am!). Launch a successful business you can escape to write. Make writing your successful business. Reality check: if you choose writing over riches, are you really going to end up in the street? Would the people who care for you really let that happen? (If so, you’re a right and proper bastard, aren’t you? You deserve homelessness. Maybe you should work on your social skills and bathe, hm?) Poverty isn’t so bad. Not writing would be worse. (If you don’t understand that equation, you aren’t a writer.)

10. anonymity. This is the worst. You fear anonymity because if no one reads your words, there goes your only shot at immortality. If you don’t achieve some success with your writing, soon it will be as if you never existed. You might as well have never existed if you can’t leave some kind of stamp of your personality, your brain and your thoughts on the careless, fickle future you’ll never see. The abyss is yawning beneath you. We are only a brief crack of light between two black infinities. If you don’t write, you can’t be published and if you aren’t published, you are forgotten. You are a helpless speck disappearing down the raging current of time. There is no return. Death waits for us all.

ANONYMITY = DEATH

Feel that fear? It’s not just real. It’s good.

You need some fear in your life to keep you motivated.

Back to the keyboard, friends!

Filed under: getting it done, Rant, writing tips, , , , ,

Chuck Palahniuk on Writer’s Constipation

Filed under: Writers, writing tips, , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,643 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

%d bloggers like this: