Banging Your Head Against the Wall

Writer’s block.  Two of the nastiest words in the English language when they get together to throw a party in your mind.  If you’re like me, your writer’s block manifests itself as empty stares, wandering thoughts involving grocery lists, and that dog meme you saw on twitter yesterday.  So, what do you do when you have writer’s block?

I have asked that question a thousand times, and I’ve gotten a thousand answers.  I’ve been asked quite a bit as well, and I finally have the best answer.  You do everything and nothing.  Whaaaaat?

Yep, do nothing.  It’s OKAY to take a break from your work and do something else, even for a few days.  Note, I did NOT say don’t write – that would be foolish.  Write something, just don’t force yourself to write the next chapter of that manuscript, because I promise you won’t like the outcome.  You’ll rip your hair out when the editing process begins, and you will ask yourself what on earth you were thinking.  Alien unicorns in historical non-fiction?!

Write a short story, a poem, a random list of things you want to do before you die.  You’ll find writing anything at all helps clear the blockage, and before you know it you’ll be digging out from the rubble of the hundreds of ideas that fall on you when the wall comes tumbling down!

Or, do everything.  Can’t figure out what your MC should do in the impossible predicament you’ve put her in?  Write an alternate point-of-view!  Write from the villain’s perspective, write from the love interest’s perspective, write from the fly on the wall’s perspective!  Not only does it free up space in your mind to be creative without the pressure of knowing this chapter will be in your final manuscript, but it also helps you understand your minor character’s better.

That makes no sense, you say.  I already know my characters, I wrote them after all, you say.  Trust me, you don’t.  You think you do, but until you shake off the persona of your MC, you can’t really see your supporting characters clearly.

But that’s a waste of time!  Is it any more a waste of time than staring at your computer waiting for inspiration?  Probably not.  And look at it this way, if you plan on redeeming your villain in some way, it helps to know what he/she is thinking and feeling.  It will come through in your work and when the time comes for the redemption arc, your readers will swallow the pill a little easier.  You’ll always have that one person who wouldn’t forgive a bear for pooping in the woods, but you’re not really writing for that person anyway.

Have a strong MC but a wimpy lover?  Give him or her a stronger presence (thereby making a stronger love) by climbing in the character’s brain.  Your readers will feel that love more strongly if you feel it!  I don’t feel quite right if I haven’t made myself cry writing the sappy scenes.

Don’t like alternate POVs?  Write the ending to your book.  You surely have some idea how you want your work to wrap up, so write it!  Don’t worry, no one will know if you changed it entirely by the time you get to the actual ending, but it gives you a goal.  How do you fill the space between where you are and your final destination?  You’ll be surprised what having the final written chapter can do to help you fill in the blank space.

What do you do if these tips don’t help you?  Watch TV, listen to music, read a book by an author outside of your genre, read a book by an author in your genre, read a dictionary (seriously, that little trick has helped me twice – no kidding), take a walk, call a friend on the actual phone (yes, they will probably think you’re insane), play with your pet, leave your writing space for a while and look at the world, run ideas by a trusted beta reader or friend, do one of the things on your to -do list.

Do whatever works for you, because honestly that’s the way the world works.  Everyone is different, and not every tip will work for you.  And sometimes what works now won’t work later.  It’s frustrating, I know .  We ALL know, because we’ve all been there at least once – twice on Tuesdays!

Don’t let it stop you from putting the words down.  Someone wants to hear what you have to say; wouldn’t it be a pity if you never say it?  Just keep trying techniques, and one day you’ll be doing this…


When Do You Become a Writer?

We’ve all done it.  You’re scrolling through Facebook and you come across a “quiz” that tells you who you are (because algorithms know everything), and you click on it only to find you have apparently been living your life all wrong!

Sigh…I did just that today, and now I’m downright irate.  I should have known better, but I couldn’t stop myself from clicking on that “Should You be a Writer?” quiz that kept popping up in my feed.  I took the quiz.  Guess what?  I shouldn’t be a writer.

Why?  Evidently it’s a lot of work.  Evidently you need 427 years of schooling to put words on paper that inspire others.  Evidently I am not creative enough, because I also happen to like watching more than one television show.

It was discouraging for about thirteen seconds.  Then I remembered that silly quiz didn’t know me.  It didn’t know that I thrive from writing, or that I would do just about anything to put my thoughts on paper.  Of course, those 427 years of schooling may have helped me get started, at the very least it may have helped me remember where the commas are supposed to go, but not having it certainly won’t STOP me from doing what I love.

Folks, I have an MBA that I paid good money for – really good money, and I haven’t used that sucker once since I graduated.  Quite frankly, if I entered the business world right now, that $90K degree would probably be worthless.  The truth is, education is important, but it isn’t everything.

Experience, now THAT you cannot put a price tag on.  Empathy, sympathy, love, hope, generosity, sadness, anger – the entire human spectrum of emotion – and the things you do and see and say in your life – THAT is what makes you a writer.  Anyone can make a sentence and write it on paper, but it’s those of us who put our soul on paper that inspire others and create masterpieces.

Some may say the true gauge of success as a writer is publication, some say making the NYT Bestseller list, some say fame and fortune (sorry, not many people become JK Rowling), but I say the second you leave a little piece of yourself on the page you have become a writer.

Writing is an art form, and like any other form of art it takes practice and perseverance.  Mozart worked for ten years before he produced his first popular work.  Kobe Bryant put in thousands of hours of training before he became a star, arguably one of the best basketball players in the world.  Picasso painted a bunch of crap before he sold is first painting.  Einstein thought most of his work was junk, then he completed his Theory of Relativity – dude, he figured out gravity!  But, he didn’t do it overnight.

My point?  If you want to be a writer, then be a writer.  Put in the work and never let anyone, not even the all-powerful Facebook quiz, tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.  That said, if you will excuse me I have some writing to do.

All the love!  MJ

First blog post

I have no idea what I’m doing – I wan to be clear about that from the very beginning.  I came into this world an introvert, and an introvert I will stay until the day I die.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t like people, I simply go about my appreciation a little differently.  At home.  In my pajamas.  With coffee and a book.

On this site you will find my ramblings about anything that comes to mind, primarily having to do with writing and publishing, but there will probably be some random, unimportant junk thrown in on occasion – or often, I haven’t decided yet!

My first book, The Yellow Note, racked up three million reads on Wattpad, so I thought I’d give the publishing world a try.  I thought having a cesarean section was brutal…I was wrong.  I’m used to rejection, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re judged by the first sentence that comes out of your mouth (or your page), then ignored for months on end you start to feel a little invisible.

But, Wattpad is a wonderful community and I have found several solid, loyal supporters who encourage me to write every single day.  I hope those supporters will follow me here, because I would love for this blog to become a community of individuals whose goal is writing, whether professionally or as a hobby, and supporting each other through the process.

If you want a peek into my brain, follow me on Wattpad or any of my social media pages.  You can find links to those on the Social Media tab on the main page of this blog, or you can flounder around aimlessly searching for me – whatever floats your boat.

This is my firs blog post, so I won’t bore you with my rambling just yet, but I will provide some shameless self-promotion…

The Yellow Note (hardcover and paperback) is available through Barnes and Noble here:

E-reader version will be available through Amazon in a few days, and I will post the link then.  Check out my Books tab for a brief summary of the book.

Thank you for following my rambling for today, stay tuned for more!  As a thank-you, I will leave you with a gif that does not belong to me in any way, shape, or form (please don’t sue me), but Nathaniel Buzolic is so very nice to look at…(incidentally, it’s how I feel when agents ignore me.)

Image result for Nathaniel Buzolic Gifs Drinking