(More Questions from Fiona)
2. How do you combat writers block.
Writer’s block is a bitch!
I’ve collected and invented a lot of strategies on how to combat it.
Not all work every time, so when I get stuck for a longer period of time I try one after the other until I can write again.
Some of my strategies are (in no particular order):
– Just relax and don’t write for a while … do other things that you enjoy … or even do things you don’t particularly enjoy but which for some unfathomable reason suddenly sound inviting if it means getting away from staring at the blank screen … for me such things include for example: weeding my aquariums or doing a water change, doing the dishes, vacuuming, re-potting plants, watering plants, backup stuff onto my USB flash drives, organising things (either on the PC or in my flat)
– Try writing something completely different (as opposed to trying to force yourself to continue with a specific story)
– Read your story from the beginning (or another story you have partly written) and add just a few notes here and there
– Jot down ideas for new stories or for scenes in one of your projects
– Create character sheets for your characters
– Do research you need for your story
– Find names for your characters
– Read something that’s related to what you intend to write
– Read sites that deal with the subject of writer’s block and find reassurance that you’re not the only one who experiences it
– Watch a film that’s related to what you intend to write
– Set goals for yourself … even if it’s just to sit down for 10 minutes every day and work on your story (even if you sit there staring at the blank screen/at your story the entire time)
(For me weekly and yearly goals work better than daily goals, but that’s different for everyone, I suppose)
– Write down your feelings and thoughts about not being able to write
– If none of this helps, sit down and work on your project
Sometimes, after having tried all kinds of strategies, I’m getting so annoyed with myself that I just sit down and work on the current project, even if it means I write rubbish (and funnily enough, the results are rarely that bad) … or I get so frustrated with myself that I write a story about a frustrated/desperate/despaired/angry/etc. person … or I finish a project that I’ve been putting on the backburner for ages.
Apart from all these, I’m constantly working with a ‘tracking table’ in which I note how much time I’ve spent with certain things. This way I can keep track of what I’ve done over the week, and what I still need to do. To me this is very important, as especially with writing there are so many other things you NEED to do, but if for example you don’t jot down the time once you sit down to work on your story, you might after three hours think that you’ve done nothing, because you’ve only written half a sentence … but in actual fact you’ve spent time researching certain facts that you needed in order to write that half sentence. If I can jot down three hours in my ‘Product Time’ row, I feel a lot better than if I measure my progress in words written.
(right click and -open image in a new tab- to see it bigger 😉
I got the idea for this ‘Tracking Table’ from this site: http://baneofyourresistance.com/tag/six-stages-of-the-creative-process/ (The tables are under the tab ‘Around the Writer’s Block Forms’)
There’s tons of interesting information about writer’s block on this site.
I adapted the tables (forms) to suit me, and they work very nicely for me.
I have only set weekly goals for Digital Art (2 hours), Hungarian (4 hours) and Product Time (6 hours). But I often do a LOT more than that.
I also set myself yearly goals for all but the first three rows. And I’ve already reached some of them. 🙂
3. Do you prefer self-publishing over conventional publishing.
Definitely! While at first I wanted to find a conventional publisher, now that I have self-published, I wouldn’t want to publish with a conventional publisher anymore.
There are several reasons for this (in no particular order):
1. I don’t have to bother about re-formatting the manuscript for every new publisher I try, I only have to do it according to Smashwords’ style guide and that’s it.
2. I don’t have to write any letters, trying to sell myself, I just publish at Smashwords.
3. I don’t have to bother about any kind of rules with regards to preferences of each publisher … like one wants a one-page synopsis and the first three chapters, the next wants a five-page excerpt and no chapters … and yet another wants completely different things.
4. I get higher royalties with Smashwords, and eBooks are forever, meaning they don’t ever go out of print.
5. I don’t have to bother about contracts and Legalese. (It was already a nightmare to get my freaking IRS number for Smashwords; I don’t need any more of that!)
6. I can write what I want and don’t have to worry about genre crossing or length or any other
thing that may be problematic with mainstream publishers.
7. It doesn’t take ages till my book becomes available – I just fill out the publishing form and hit publish and it’s available within minutes on Smashwords (and at other retailers within a week or two).
8. I can do my own covers. (My covers may not all be fantastic, but I love doing them myself.)
9. I don’t have to work with a publisher’s editor and do as they say. I have a wonderful editor, and I love working with her! And I value her advice tremendously. However, I like that if I really want to write something in a certain way, I can do it even if she doesn’t particularly like it. Most of the times, I do listen to her advice though. 🙂
10. I do believe that eBooks are the future. Even though I do believe that printed books will never completely go out of fashion, more and more people are using e-reading devices and tablet PCs, and thus I think eBooks will eventually take over the majority of book sales.
Only drawback with self-publishing is: having to do all the promotion myself – I hate promoting myself!
But then again, I’ve heard that most publishers don’t do much for new authors in that regard either, so I’d have to do it myself anyway.
4. Any advice for aspiring writers.
2. Read a lot!
3. Read a lot in the genre you’re writing.
5. Write a lot!
6. Write what you would like to read. (Don’t worry too much about what publishers want – you can always self-publish if what you write doesn’t fit in the mainstream publishers’ categories. It’s far more important that your heart is in it; that you like what you write.)
7. Find yourself a good editor you trust. If you can’t afford a professional one ask in the WWAAM group or another group you’re in, or ask among your friends. Get as much help as you can.
8. Listen to your editor!
9. If you disagree with your editor, think again, think hard, and in 98.57% of the cases decide to listen to your editor even if you’re not entirely fond of it!
10. Do as many edits/rewrites as it takes to satisfy your editor (and yourself, of course).
11. Don’t despair. The first draft will never be the one you publish (rare exceptions don’t count.)
12. Don’t despair. The more you write, (and read, and listen to your editor), the better you will become.
13. Finish your stories.
14. If you get stuck with your novel project and finishing it sounds too daunting, write, finish, edit/rewrite/polish and publish a short story. (Finishing a story and getting it out there is a great motivator!)
15. Don’t despair over bad reviews. Look at them and see if they might have a point. If they do, attempt to learn from it and make it better the next time (or rewrite your story if you think that’s necessary). If they don’t have a point and just hated your story – Remember that
everyone is entitled to their opinion, and not everybody will love your story. That’s just the way it is. I prefer not to write reviews/rate if I can’t give at least 4 stars (but I would give feedback in any case if I were asked for it), however, there are a lot of people who think and do differently. Don’t worry about it.
16. Most importantly – have fun! 🙂
From the Admin: LOTS of advice and helpful tips from Sophia here! Writers- you may want to make sure you go back and take notes! 😉