Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of writer’s block is brought to you by non-fiction author Marlene Caroselli.
Debunking the writer’s block myth
If you are alive, you are thinking. And, if you are thinking, you can record your thoughts. What if you have no thoughts about the book you wish to write? Rubbish–it’s all in your head–quite literally. There are several options available to you for getting those thoughts out of your head and onto paper or a computer screen. First, though, you need to let time be your guide.
Begin collecting ideas, articles, web sites, et cetera that you’d like to explore in that book of yours. When your folder has at least 50 resources or references, begin to organize them. Use the stratification technique: Simply create six or more columns–Character, Location, Dialog, Plots, Scenes, Timeline, for example. Then start adding details to each of the categories. Each time you come across or think about something you’d like to include in your book, jot down your idea. Don’t worry about spelling or editing problems until the book is done. You can save the title until the end as well. For many authors, the title evolves as the book is being completed. Other authors, though, like to have the title before they start. It doesn’t really matter; the choice is yours.
Once you have a bulky set of details in each category, begin writing. Commit to two pages a day. Your book can be done in six months, sooner if you write quickly. Form a network of friends who will encourage you to keep on your writing schedule. Remind yourself each morning, “If I get nothing else done today, I will complete my two pages.” Some authors, when temporarily groping for words, just write anything that is in their mind until their brain stops meandering and gets back on the writing track. It’s an excellent method of pulling thoughts out of a brain that is headed toward hedonism, if only temporarily.
Be sure there no other books out there that parallel your planned manuscript. Publishers have enough rejection-reasons already–don’t make a duplicated idea one of them. Do your research and if you find you do have a unique idea, begin your book by using the stratification method again. This time, though, divide the main topic into 10-20 subtopics. Then go back and add points to each of the topics (which will become the book’s chapters). To illustrate, if your overall theme is career advancement, you could have these divisions:
SECTION 1: GETTING THE JOB
Updating your resume, Finding a job, Going on an interview
SECTION 2: DOING WELL ON THE JOB
Handling office politics, Getting a raise, Working on a team, Making a contribution
SECTION 3: GETTING A PROMOTION
Gaining visibility, Having a mentor or sponsor, Engaging in benchmarking
SECTION 4: THE MANAGERIAL RESPONSIBILITIEs
Leading, Communicating, Maintaining good morale, Increasing productivity.
Presidential speechwriter Robert Orben once remarked that he gets up every day and searches the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If he doesn’t find his name on it, he goes to work. Whether you have a full-time job and do writing on the side, or whether you have made writing your full-time job, you have the same obligation Orben does. You have to go to work if you want to complete that book. Claiming writers’ block as a way to postpone that obligation means the work, and the book, will never get done. You are better than that–you’re a writer, not an excuse-maker.
Thank you, Marlene!
Dr. Marlene Caroselli (www.saatchionline.com/LainaCelano), is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer.
She has published over 60 books, including Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, and Principled Persuasion, named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with multi-genre author Michael J Bowler – the four hundred and ninety-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.