Welcome to the new blog series, Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.
10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!
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The Elements of Fun
by Angela Ruth Strong
Procrastination is one of my less enviable qualities. I blame the fact that I’m visionary and can “see” into the future where things are finished, so I don’t worry about getting them done in the moment. Unfortunately, this often leads to a frantic scramble to finish manuscripts before deadlines.
Such stress can quickly drain the fun out of writing. The good news is that to counter my undesirable quality of poor time management, I possess the desirable quality of Mary Poppinsness. Yes, in every job that must be done, I find an element of fun.
Writing should be fun. It’s a great excuse to do wacky things like stage a water balloon war, a pillow fight, or get a pie smashed in your face. (In my defense, the pie was actually my publisher’s idea.) And then my kids always have fun when I’m in my writing world and having trouble making sense when I talk. Like the time I told my daughter I was adopted. I didn’t even realize what I’d said until Caitlin asked, “Do your parents know?”
No, I’m not adopted. But back to my point…
I know that if I’m not having fun, I’m doing something wrong. So whenever I get the urge to toss my laptop out the window due to writer’s block, I find the fun, and snap, the job’s a game. Here are five foolproof ways for you to find the fun:
1.) Go on a fieldtrip. A lot of times, we lack inspiration because the story world isn’t real enough for us to know what we are talking about, so if we immerse ourselves in a similar setting, the imaginary comes to life. Now you don’t have to go as far as Jessica Osborn Patch and actually practice stalking someone because you are writing a suspense novel. It can be as simple as visiting your friend’s farm as research because you are writing about horses and don’t know a thing about the animals. This put me back on track for Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana. Deb Raney mentioned visiting a Mennonite church because she had Mennonite characters. Or do like Karen Barnett and try all the food on the menu of an old time soda fountain.
2.) Skip to the parts you are inspired to write. My novel ideas never come to me in order. Once I wrote the final scene first. Over the course of writing the novel, the whole ending changed, but it’s what got me writing in the first place. Maybe you dreamed of the getaway scene last night. Or maybe your husband said something so sweet and romantic that you HAVE to use it in the kissing scene. Don’t trudge through a lot of boring scenes to get to that one amazing moment—write the amazing moment while it still feels amazing. The boring scenes might then become more exciting to you as you fill in the gaps of your story, plus you will have built up some momentum heading in.
3.) Brainstorm with friends/family. And they don’t have to be writer friends. My writer friends are awesome, and we’ve done brainstorming retreats before which are some of my best memories, but they are also writers. They think inside the book. Family and friends don’t have to worry about how the plot will work or if another author used the same idea in her last novel. Nothing holds their ideas back. And you also get to see how their brains work in a new way.
4.) Cheat writer’s block by writing on social media. A lot of times, social media is a time thief or considered a tool for promotion, but it’s also an avenue for instant feedback. Can’t think of a last name for your antagonist? There are thousands of people who would love to help you out with that. They also have access to locations you can’t go on your fieldtrips. The Florida Keys? The Kansas prairie? The red rock arches in Utah? They’ve been there. And they can tell you things you wouldn’t get by googling the travel bureau. Like how the Florida humidity can cause rashes. Hearing it from them would also be more fun than having such an experience for yourself.
5.) Journal. Once when I was going through a difficult time, a counselor asked me if I was writing. “No,” I moaned. “I only have the energy to write in my prayer journal.” The counselor responded, “That’s the writing I’m talking about.” Oh. My own life story. Yes, you’re an author, but your own life has to come before your character’s. And your own flaws (we’ve all got them) could be keeping you from taking your characters where they need to go. Start each day with God. Hold nothing back. Get it all out there. And ask for direction and inspiration. The Lord’s joy can be your strength.
Your writer’s block is a story just waiting to happen. Make it a fun one!
Angela Ruth Strong
Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and published her first novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2010. With movie producers interested in her book, she’s rereleased it as part of a new series titled Resort to Love, and she’s excited to be writing for Love Inspired Suspense, as well. This Idaho Top Author and Cascade Award winner also started IDAhope Writers to encourage other aspiring authors. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and three teenagers where she teaches yoga and works as a ticket agent for an airline when not writing.
Falling in love can feel a lot like tumbling down a mountain.
C.J. Lancaster’s job as a tabloid journalist takes her to the Sundance Film Festival to interview an actress. She tries to charm her way past the movie star’s youngest brother-in-law, Sam, and somehow ends up on an “undate” with him. If C.J. were ready to date, the fun-loving veteran would be her first choice, but since she’s still healing from her ex-husband’s affair, she knows it will be safer if she scares her new “friendboy” away.
Sam Lake is intrigued—he’s never had to pursue a woman, and he can’t get C.J. out of his mind. Whether it’s how she likes to eat ice cream in winter or the way she gets his nieces and nephews to gang up on him in a snowball fight, he feels more at home with her than his oversized family. But when his own issues arise, he realizes C.J. might be right about avoiding a relationship with him.
Can the two of them overcome the emotional mountains in their lives, or will they remain a “noncouple” forever?
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Check out last week’s post, 5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Writing Schedule. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday! Take a look at this awesome line up!