What To Do When Your Mystery Novel Gets Stuck [Mystery Month]

I talk about outlining all the time, but even I don’t outline for everything.

For the past two years, I’ve written a four- or five-part mystery short story for Short Story Sunday using George and Lilah as the protagonists. I’d get a random title in mind and a plot would spark from there.

That didn’t happen this year.

I’ve been writing this month’s mystery short story as the month went on. I easily wrote the first part and second part, but then I got stuck.

What to do when you get stuck writing a mystery novel

It’s always such a pain when you get stuck on any story, but when you get stuck on a mystery plot, it’s tough to get yourself out of it. Everything has to be pieced together and make sense. When you don’t know what’s going on, it’s hard to tie it all together.

So, what do you do?

1. Reread what you previously wrote

I know there are people out there who say not to reread what you wrote the day before. I don’t understand why, but I think it helps to reread it. It reminds me where I left off and what I already talked about. Especially when writing mystery, you have to remember what clues the characters had already found and such.

2. Ask, “What If?

If you’re unsure of where to go next ask yourself, “What if this happened…?” New ideas will surely arrive, no matter how far fetched they seem. Still, you can take what you already wrote and rewrite something or use what you already have to create something brand new.

3. Take a step back and outline what you can

Yes, I’m bringing outlining back. No, I’m not telling you to outline your whole story. However, there are certain questions you can ask yourself. If you can answer them, great. Then you can figure out what to do next in your story.

4. Take a break

Step away from the story and let your mind rest. That’s all there is to it. When you get back to it, new ideas might arise for you.

5. Work on something else

I guess this goes along with “take a break,” but you can always work on something else. You’ll be writing, but you’ll be taking a break from your original story.

Getting stuck on your writing is never fun, but there are plenty of was to get out of it and keep going.

Want to check out a great post on writer’s block? Check out this post by Jerry Jenkins!

What do you do when you get stuck on your writing? Let me know in the comments below!

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FAQs On Writers Block

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Via Google

What is writer’s block?

Writer’s block is “a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work” (Dictionary.com). But we all know what writer’s block is, right? It’s an annoying wall that builds itself brick by brick and before you know it, you’re stuck. There are no doors, no windows. Your characters and plot are on one side and you’re stuck on the other.

When does writer’s block occur?

Whenever you close your mind.

Why does writer’s block occur?

Writer’s block can come from anything: lack of motivation, lack of inspiration, lack of time, etc. Sometimes you just get into a funk and say to yourself, “I don’t feel like writing today.” You don’t have the motivation to sit at your computer for a couple of hours and type up of a few pages. Maybe your characters are no longer speaking to you (did you kill off anyone lately?), thus no inspiration is coming in. Sometimes we lose track of time. There are dishes to be done, you have to go to your day job, maybe you have to sleep… there are so many reasons.

How do I get rid of writer’s block?

That’s easy! Force your characters to talk to you, find a way around that wall–break it down if you have to. Make time, not excuses. Open a blank page on the computer or in a notebook and just write about anything. What did you have for breakfast that morning? What is your favorite color and why? What’s a funny story that happened to you in the past week? Write about how one of your co-workers may secretly be a superhero. The possibilities are endless.

Does writer’s block really exist or is it all in my head?

Of course it’s all in your head. We’re writers, aren’t we?

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Via Google

Further Reading:

13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block
How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tricks that Work
4 Ways Inspiration Helps You Beat Writer’s Block

So Many Snow Days!

For the second Monday in a row, I had another snow day from work. This is our fifth snow day in… four weeks? We’ve gotten a lot of snow in such a short amount of time. Today we got another two feet or so. I’m losing track of how much is out there, but it has to be at least a good five or six feet total from all the snow in the past couple of weeks. It’s been so bitterly cold that even when it’s not snowing, the snow isn’t melting; it’s just turning to ice.

I don’t mind snow days, though. Everyone is sick of them at this point and they’re all angry with Mother Nature, but I don’t care. Sure, I may have to make up the days at the end of the school year and I don’t get paid for snow days, but I get a lot done during these days.

I have been so stuck on my writing lately, it’s ridiculous. For the past week I haven’t been writing anything. I’ve either been doing homework (which is at least something productive) or I’ve been playing video games or watching TV. I’ve had the motivation to write, but I just don’t know what to write. It’s quite the dilemma.

I’m still working on Detective Florence, but I think I need a bit of a vacation from it. If I don’t take a break, I’ll burn myself out from the characters and plot and then it will never get done. What am I supposed to do while I take a break from that, though? I’ve been thinking of writing some short stories or maybe trying my hand at some poetry. I’ve been looking at different magazines and contests to submit to, but my state of mind remains the same: I want written, not writing.

Needless to say, I did nothing all weekend. I babysat Friday night and didn’t even do anything while the kids were in bed… I brought two books with me and didn’t read either of them. I sat on their couch like a lump. Saturday Kris and I didn’t even go to Barnes and Noble because I was too tired. I don’t know why, but I was completely wiped out. We decided to write from home, but neither one of us did… we played video games instead. We didn’t do anything yesterday, either. It was snowing so we didn’t even go to church. Again, I watched TV and played video games.

Today, taking advantage that I’m home, I decided to be productive. I actually typed up ten more pages of Detective Florence 2 so that’s something. I’ve also gotten a lot of homework done.

I wanted to go back and forth between writing ten pages, doing some homework, write another ten pages, so more homework, and so on. However, I got caught up in my homework (because my classes have been giving very little homework this semester) that I decided to get it all done today.

Three of my classes start the week on Monday while my other class starts the week on Tuesday. So I only have my assignments for three of my classes so far this week and I’ve finished my homework for all three, except my Spanish quiz because my professor didn’t post that yet for some reason… I’m assuming she forgot because that’s what usually happens.

I’ve also gotten a small head start on the homework for my fourth class because I already know what reading she’s going to assign. So I can make a small dent in that tomorrow, but I can finish the rest of the assignments tomorrow. Then I’ll be homework-free for the rest of the week!

I’m hoping I’ll spend that extra time writing… whether it’s Detective Florence or something else.

How was your weekend?

New Idea

By the title of this post alone you’re probably groaning saying, “she changed her mind again…?” Yes, I did change my mind again!

Kris and I were discussing writing last night as she filled up a notebook and I… haven’t written anything in a while. So, we were discussing the upcoming NaNo session, writing in general, publishing, etc. This is what I explained to Kris:

I decided to write a novel that was a brand new idea about two college students and writing. I’ve realized whenever I get stuck on my writing I end up writing about writing. Yet if it beats the writer’s block, then why not? The thing is, I’m not really all that into the idea anymore. I still like the idea and will keep it in mind in case I ever want to try it again.

However, I had to read the first half of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien for school this week. I read it in two days and now I’m back on a fantasy high. So I thought of writing Saving Time. There are two things wrong with that. One, it’s the kind of story that needs to be outlined. I have many ideas for it and there are a lot of characters and places in the story. It’s not something I can free write or else editing will be a pain and I’ll most likely lose the main idea. Two, I started it in a notebook and I would like to finish it in my notebook. If for whatever reason I can’t get to a computer, I can still work on a novel. I know some people hand write for NaNo and I love that; kudos to all of you, but I don’t have the time to hand write 50,000 words and then type those 50,000 words to validate it. I might as well sit at my computer and bang out 100,000 words if I can. So, Saving Time is out.

The first draft of my story chapter is due next week for my Fiction class. I’m going to submit the first chapter of Detective Florence. Of course, we all know I decided to take a break from that series and now that I have to focus on the one chapter I’m beginning to realize that I miss writing that series. I still have the third novel to write, but like Saving Time, it needs to be outlined. If I don’t outline it, I’ll be stuck and the series will lose its main idea. So that’s out.

You guys are probably thinking that I’m coming up with too many excuses, but trust me; I’m not good at pantsing. I free write every once in a while, but I need that outline for the most part; especially since I recently discovered a great way to outline that works for me.

So, what am I going to write? Kris and I were discussing my Short Story Sunday and then…

Eureka

I realized what I should write for NaNo. I should write short stories. That way I can write about anything I want, any genre I want. Plus, I think the variety of stories will help me get over my writer’s block. I haven’t been able to write in so long that it’s gotten to the point that my brain isn’t used to it anymore and I’m indecisive about it all.

Plus, it will certainly be interesting to see how well I do within a certain amount of pages/words. We all know I tend to babble on, so if an idea sparks it just might end up turning into a novella… but I think it would be cool to have a collection of short stories at the end of the month. It’s something different. It’ll be a nice change of pace for myself.

I’m excited about it whereas I wasn’t too thrilled with my old idea. So I think I have a better chance at winning now that my enthusiasm has come back.

Starbucks!

Coffee

 

 

So Kris and I decided that we were going to go to Barnes and Noble today and write. Yes, we have our office now at home, but we haven’t been to Barnes and Noble in a while. We thought we would go, say hi to the workers behind the Starbucks counter there, but…she ended up getting called into work. So we didn’t go.

We did end up going to Starbucks, though. Since she was closing, we thought we would get coffee and write in our office at home. She continued to edit her novel while I continued to write Inspiration Station.

The more I write that novel the more I realize that I have no idea what I’m doing. When I wrote Detective Florence, I outlined the first part of the novel and continued to outline as I wrote the rest in an attempt to making editing easier for me. I am not outlining Inspiration Station and I never planned on it because this was something I began to write when I had a slight writer’s block. I didn’t expect it to turn into an actual novel. I was still able to write 5,096 words for it, though.

I also changed my schedule, you can see it on the To Do List. Even though I have a lot of free time without work and school, writing 5,000 words a day and editing takes a lot out of someone. So I decided that I’m going to write 5,000 words a day Monday-Thursday and edit Friday-Saturday and relax on Sunday. I can write/edit if I feel like it, but I’m not obligated to do anything. This will be helpful for when school does start back up again (in about a week and a half) and I can do the bulk of my homework on Sunday. Not ideal, but whatever.

So, since tomorrow is Friday that means I’m going to edit. I’m hoping to edit a lot as I would love to self-publish this novella by the end of 2014…wish me luck!

Everything Is Ruined

Because…

This is the writing prompt I used to help me get out of my writer’s block. This is not my best work, I have to say…I’m not all that thrilled with it, but I do find it a little amusing. After all, if it helped me get back into a groove with my writing, how terrible can this story be?

Prompt: Everything is Ruined Because…

“Everything is ruined because of you!”

“Sweetheart, darling, pumpkin!” I pleaded while dodging a glass vase being thrown at my head.

“Don’t call me pumpkin!” she screamed.

“Sweetheart, darling…” I obeyed her request. “I don’t understand why you are so upset. Please talk to me…”

“Oh, you make me so…so…angry!” she was frantically looking around for something else to throw at me. She seemed very determined to not miss again.

I lowered myself on the ground to pick up the shards of glass. “Don’t come any closer, dear. You’re not wearing any shoes or socks.” I smirked as I watched her feet dance around the room. “Did you get a pedicure, my dear?”

“Shut up!”

“Yes, ma’am,” I swallowed.

Oh, this was not a pretty picture. This was not one of the finest moments of my wife and I. Although, I should probably explain everything from the beginning, huh? Maybe together you and I can figure out why she found it amusing to chuck her favorite vase at me…among other fragile objects.

Yes, the man picking up the glass pieces is yours truly, Dexter Humphrey. The woman—you know, the one with smoke coming out of her ears—is my wife, Lacey Humphrey. As you can clearly see, Lacey is angry. She is angry at me. Why? That is what I don’t understand. She says that I ruined everything…I don’t know what that means.

Let me rewind to the morning and hopefully I will find something during the day that will make me realize what I did to upset her so much.

*

“Good morning, my darling!” I cheerfully entered the kitchen upon waking up from a wonderful night of rest.

“Good morning,” Lacey smiled. I kissed her on the cheek before sitting down at the table opening the newspaper.

“Um,” Lacey sighed. “I took the day off from work today.”

I looked up from the paper for a pause. “How sweet, you wanted to spend the day with your loving husband.” I never work on Friday.

“Well, of course.” Lacey chuckled. “Why else would I bother to take the day off?”

“Well, we need the money, so I have no idea why else you would take off a random Friday.” I shrugged my shoulders.

“Random Friday?” she whispered.

I have no idea why she repeated that.

“Dex, isn’t there anything you want to say to me?”

I looked up from my paper once more. “Ah, yes. What’s for breakfast, my darling?”

Lacey frowned again. “Would you like to go out? You know, since it’s the 31st…of July.”

I scrunched up my face. “No, dear; we only go out for breakfast when there is a special occasion.”

“Yes,” Lacey looked hopeful.

“Glad you agree,” I cleared my throat. “What’s for breakfast?”

She did not answer me as she began to cook…yet, I did hear a faint growl coming from her direction.

*

Lacey followed me out of the kitchen after breakfast. “When I finish cleaning up, what would you like to do?”

I scratched my belly. “Video games? All of my colleagues have beaten Skyward Sword and I am still puzzled on that one damn part.”

“Video games?” Why was she repeating everything I said?

“Yes, dear; I do this every Friday while you are at work.”

“Well, I took the day off because I thought you and I would do something…together.” Lacey took a deep breath. She looked as though something was troubling her.

I grinned. “You finally want to learn how to play video games! Oh, joy! We shall start off with something easy…Mario Kart!” I dashed out of the room to go get the game. But as I ran away, I could feel her glaring at me behind my back.

*

“Let’s go out for dinner!” Lacey announced with a smile. “Maybe that will jog your memory…”

“Excuse me?” I looked up from the TV putting the game on pause. “My memory is top notch, thank you very much!” I had no idea why she was making fun of my memory.

“Obviously,” she scoffed. “You forgot something important today and still haven’t realized that you forgot something!” her anger was growing.

“I never forget a thing. You must be mistaken.” I laughed.

Lacey sat down on the couch and began to sob. “This whole day is ruined…”

I rubbed her back. “Darling, nothing is ruined. I shall help with dinner, if that is what you wish.”

She jumped off of the couch and shouted. “Everything is ruined because of you!”

Then…oh, we’re back to where we started. I am still on the floor attempting to pick up the pieces of my wife’s shattered heart…metaphorically speaking.

Then it hit me like a glass vase!

“Honey, I know what has been bothering you.” I stood up with my arms stretched out. She calmed down, but only for a moment as I wrapped her up into a big hug.

“Happy birthday!”

I said she was only calm for a moment. I was soon shoved off of her as she screamed, “It’s our anniversary!”

Oops…

“I’m sorry, darling…I will make it up to you. That is the funny thing about anniversaries, you know. They come once year. There’s always next year!”

And that was when she threw the book at my noggin.

A Dumb Story

Here We Go…

So I realized that I haven’t really talked too much about my writing on here lately. I can’t really say that things haven’t been going well, but I guess they haven’t really been going all that great, either.

Ever since I got stuck with my novel Cybertra back in July for Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve been kind of stuck on all of my writing. I’ve been trying, but I don’t really know what to do with myself.

I went on vacation for a week in July and that was one whole week that I didn’t write. I played Pokemon instead. So that also slowed me down a bit, too. But I can’t complain because I think I needed a break from writing for a little bit.

But when I came back from vacation I realized that I really needed to get back into the swing of things. I have three young adult novels completed, why aren’t I editing them? I have three other novels started, why aren’t I finishing them?

Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble together last week. I took out my laptop and was beside myself. What was I supposed to write? I had no idea. Kris found a cool writing prompt app on her phone in which we both downloaded. She wasn’t too sure what to write, either, so we each picked a prompt. Mine was, “Everything is ruined because…” Again, what was I supposed to write about?

In the end, I wrote a small short story that was about four pages long. I’ll post it on here tomorrow. It was probably the dumbest thing I had ever written in my life. I wasn’t too crazy about the way I had written it, the story line was kind of weird, and the characters were just…odd. It certainly was not my best work.

But it was soon after that that I began to write again. That same day at Barnes and Noble, I whipped out my Hunter & Comet story and wrote a little bit of that. Then, for some strange reason, I got into the mood of writing one of those cliche high school drama novels. I have a couple of ideas for those and ended up starting one. It’s called Union Academy. I have no idea what the plot really is…it’s just one of those drama stories where things never seem to go right for a group of high school girls.

The time we went to Barnes and Noble after that, the latest time we’ve gone, I ended up writing that. And I got a good chunk done, too. So I think I’m over my little writer’s block. Not only that, but I actually started editing Hunter again.

It just goes to show that whatever writing you’re stuck on, just write something, anything. Even if it’s terrible. And it will help.

Why Blank Pages Stay Blank

This is a short story that I had to write for my English class a few semesters ago. This short story is 100% true. I love to write and I wanted to show my professor that because she knew that I have been planning on getting published soon…hopefully. So I went nuts trying to figure out what to write. In the end, I decided to write about my experiences of trying to figure out what to write. In other words, I wrote about everything I did before I started the actual assignment. So, here it is and I hope you enjoy.

Why Blank Pages Stay Blank

 

            There is a scent of freshly brewed coffee in the air. I can hear the scolding hot liquid pouring out of the machine and into the cup. I can see the steam from the cup rising high up into the air only to vanish within seconds. My head still, I follow the steam with my eyes as it keeps going up and up and then gone. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the light dimming. It’s my computer screen going on the screen saver. I tap the mouse and the computer comes back to life with a blank Word document staring back at me. I stare back for a moment, but the coffee maker begins to spit as it tries to squeeze the last of the coffee grounds out. Finally it stops and the room is silent.

I stand up from my chair, causing it to make a high-pitched squeak. I pick up my green, oval-shaped coffee mug—my favorite mug. I hold it with both hands wrapped around its body smiling at the warmth it surges through my fingers. Dipping my nose towards the mug, I take a deep breath and let it all out in a sigh. I love the smell of coffee. I slightly blow on the surface of the coffee to cool it a little before I take a sip.

Staggering back over to my noisy chair, I place the coffee on the edge of my desk and take a seat. I run my fingers over the black, thin keys of my laptop. I look at the screen and stare at the blank page staring back at me. It says nothing to me so I say nothing to it. I look back to my coffee, which is still steaming. It amuses me, watching the steam. The screen goes dark. I tap the mouse a second time and I swear—blank or not—it was glaring at me. I frown, knowing that it wants to be fed with words. It needs to be fed.

I stare at the keys as though they will start to type on their own. “Well, what are you waiting for?” I say to the keys irritably. I don’t get a response, which is typical. I tap my fingers on the keys without actually pressing down hard on them. I bob my head up and down. I love the sound the keys make when they are hard at work. If only I could make them work for real. Then I could listen to that beautiful sound. It’s almost like music to me. That makes me wonder…what’s on the radio?

Getting out of my seat once more, I walk over to the radio sitting upon the counter next to the coffee maker. I push the button to turn it on and I hear one of my favorite songs. I smile and bob my head more than I did when I was playing with the keyboard. I notice the screen goes dark. I rush back to my computer and tap the mouse once more. My laptop wakes up right away and continues to wait patiently for me to get to work. I sit down and position my fingers on the keys. I prepare myself physically and mentally before I begin to write. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I smell coffee. I forgot about that. I take a big gulp of my preferred drink and turn my attention back to the blank page in front of me. Before I can type just one letter, I notice a small icon blinking at the bottom of the screen.

I have new e-mail. I love receiving e-mails. It makes me feel important. I click the e-mail icon and look at what I have in my inbox. Spam…spam…spam…oh, look—a coupon to my favorite store. I certainly want to use this coupon, but when does it expire? I look up the deadline and then I remember. I have a deadline. I exit out of my e-mail and get back to the blank page that has been pouting for about an hour now. Taking one more sip of my coffee for courage, I begin to type on my tolerant laptop.

I smile at the screen proud that I have written my name. This makes me feel a little productive. I began to start something. But then I begin to get a little hungry. I get back up and enter the kitchen. I rummage through the refrigerator and all the cabinets, yet I can’t seem to settle on anything that I want. I notice the computer screen goes dark once more. I walk calmly back over to my laptop, tap the mouse, and glare at the screen. I know that it goes dark only to get my attention. It wants to annoy me. It’s taunting me.

I stare at my name and the blinking cursor. I pout, knowing that I should have had a lot more work done by now. I sit down and position my fingers once more. I look over to my coffee and take a deep breath. The room is still scented with coffee. I look over to the radio. The music is still playing. I look back to the screen. The Word document is still up. The cursor is still blinking. The page is still blank.

I enter twice and tell myself that there will be no more distractions. I have my coffee. I have music playing. My e-mail has already been checked. I click the underline button for the title and then I pause. What is my title? What am I even writing about? My shoulders go limp as I realize that I was farther behind than I thought. I rapidly tap my fingers on the keyboard lightly in anticipation. I close my eyes waiting for my brain to think of something.

Giving up all too quickly, I put three question marks in the spot where the title should be. I enter twice more and indent once. Then I am back at square one. I hold my head in my hands as my elbows rest upon the desk. I shake my head. I have no title, I have no story, and I have no muse.

The screen goes dark. I slowly lift my head, glaring at my computer, and move the mouse slightly. The blank page looks sad now. It has no words, it has no ideas, and it just has nothing. I glance at the question marks and then I stare at the cursor as it blinks. Even though there isn’t anything there and there isn’t anything to do, the cursor is still at work blinking away. It’s as though the cursor can’t seem to stop blinking. It needs to work. It has to work. It loves to work. It will stop at nothing. The more I stare at the blinking cursor, the more I start to think about this writing project. And then it finally hits me!

I will write about a personal experience. I will write about the truth. I will write about something that most writers have trouble with. I back space a few times and delete the three question marks. I type in, “Why Blank Pages Stay Blank.” And then—after so long—I begin to write.

Writer’s Block or A.D.D? (Part 2)

So this is kind of like a follow-up on yesterday’s post…

 

I’m going to explain to you what I think I have. It definitely is not writer’s block, I can tell you that much. If I had writer’s block, I would not have a total of 120 story ideas. Now I have two scripts finished, two novels, and two children’s stories completed. Completed, as in written…not done-done. Anyway, I have ideas. What do I do with them? Clearly, I actually stuck with six of them, but what about the rest? This is where the A.D.D kicks in.

I have 12 ideas started. I may have written only one chapter, I may be half-way through the novel, or I may only have one or two chapters left to write; either way, I have not finished any of them. I have ideas for them. I know how they are going to play out. I’ve written the beginning, I have some middle to it, and I know how they are all going to end. Yet, I have not been able to sit myself down and actually write them. Why is this?

I can’t tell you the answer because I don’t know the answer. All I know is that when I get in the mood to write, I sit down and stare at the list of titles I have and what do I get done? Nothing. Why? Simply because I don’t know what to write. I think that is my problem: I have way too many ideas.

Now common sense would say to finish the 12 you have started before going onto anything else. How do you choose which one of those 12 that you want to complete first? Put all the titles in a hat and pick one from random? Sure, why not? Or maybe pick the one that is the closest to being finished or the one that is farthest from being finished. Okay, we can do that. But do we actually do any of that? No, of course not.

Ideas are all around us. Well, they’re all around me, anyway, I don’t know about you guys…but my point is that whenever I go out I see something or I hear something and I just have to write it down. No questions asked I just need to write it down so I have something to play with later on. Even though I should be playing with my already started story ideas. But take the other day for example:

My sister and I were getting dinner. I was sitting in the car while she ran into Subway. It’s around 6 PM, still light out, I’m sitting in the car alone, it’s quiet. So I talk to myself. I always do. But as I’m getting into a riveting conversation with myself, I notice a woman dashing through the parking lot with a two-year-old boy in her arms. Looking back at the stores, she could have either come out of Chuck E. Cheese, Subway, or Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m going to assume Chuck E. Cheese. She’s all dressed up as though she just got out of the office. She was wearing a white, shiny blouse which was tucked into her black pencil skirt…with sneakers. Awkward. She was walking so fast that she looked as though she was just going to tip right over. She kept looking at the baby and then glaring at the space in front of her, back to the baby, back to glaring. Judging by the look on her face, she was not a happy camper. That sucks. She gets to her silver car, which is parked almost in front of me, but about two spaces over to the left. She puts the baby down, puts her black purse down, and then stares at the baby. She looks up and puffs out her cheeks as though she was letting out an angry sigh. While she rummages through her purse and unlocks her car, I watch the baby. He just stands there in the next parking spot with a blank expression on his face. Clearly, he has no idea what is going on and why should he? He’s two (possibly). Then I take a closer look and what’s this? A sling on his right arm. Interesting. He gets scooped up by the woman and they both go into the back seat as she straps him into his car seat. Her purse still lays on the parking spot next to them. Huh. She gets out, turns around and looks at the back of her skirt. She rolls her eyes and throws her arms up in the air frustrated. Alright, then. She closes the door, tosses her purse in the front seat, closes that door, and walks over to the other side of the car. She lights a cigarette and makes a call on her cell phone. Her lips were moving quickly as she spoke and her facial expressions showed she was clearly angry at something. Someone?

Look at that last paragraph. Just by observing one little scene in real life, you can come up with a whole lot. What store was she coming out of? What was she doing there? Was there someone else there with her? Why was she wearing sneakers with a dressy outfit? Why was she angry? Who was she angry with? What happened to the boy’s arm? What relation did she have to this baby? Why was she in such a rush? What did she sit in? Or did her skirt just get a hole in it? Who did she call? What if someone ran right up and grabbed the purse as she was busy with the baby? Or worse, what if someone ran right up and grabbed the baby as she was fighting with the car keys?

Only one thing caused all that to happen. However, there are so many possibilities you could come up with before learning the truth. As a writer, you can come up with so many different ideas for something like that. You can make your own twists and turns and you can write and rewrite one certain thing because there is so much you can do with just that one scene!

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, that’s because I’m not quite sure writer’s block even exists. It may be all in our heads. I mean, that’s okay. We’re all writer’s, we’re all insane. But all you need is an idea to get rid of writer’s block and all ideas come from something, someone, or somewhere. You just need to keep your eyes wide and ears open.

So, with something like that, you could easily write a short story or make a whole plot out of it for a novel. Use it as a prompt, even. Either way, it will get those rusty gears in your mind turning once again and your fingers will take it from there. Once you get into the swing of things again, you can get back to work on those unfinished novels.

Wait, we couldn’t decide which ones to work on first, right? Well…that’s another story for another day.

Writer’s Block or A.D.D?

All These Characters in My Head Won’t Sit Down and Shut Up….

 

What is writer’s block?  Basically, it means that a writer has run out of new ideas.  They cease to write for a little while due to lack of idea, inspiration, whatever you want to call it.  This could happen in between writing books or it could happen while you’re in the middle of writing a book.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone.  To put it simply: it sucks.

What is A.D.D?  Attention Deficit Disorder.  You may have impulsive actions; you may have a high hyperactivity level, or lack a high attention span.

The difference between writer’s block and A.D.D is that you can be diagnosed with A.D.D and…Let’s face it; writer’s block is all in your head.  My point is if you’re a writer, how can you tell what you have?  Regardless of being diagnosed with A.D.D or not, we can pretend to diagnose ourselves (if we assume that we have it).

Anyway, writer’s block means that you’re fresh out of ideas, correct?  Well, I don’t have that problem.  If you read the Writing tab at the top, you would know that I write young adult novels, middle grade novels, children’s books, and I have a few ideas for scripts.  Now…if I had writer’s block, would one think that I would have ideas for 7 scripts (5 being movies and 2 being TV shows), 5 children’s books, 10 middle grade novel (but it’s a series, so there will be more planned), and 98 young adult novels?  No, I don’t think so.

Now, I self-diagnosed myself with A.D.D a long time ago, but I was never tested for it.  I don’t know for certain if I really have it.  So, let’s assume that I don’t have it since I was never tested for it…18 out of 120 ideas I listed above have been started.  Only 6 of those 18 ideas have actually been completed…two of them are children’s books, two of them are young adult novels, and two of them are movie scripts.  The sad part is that one of those children’s books would have never even been thought of if I didn’t have to write a children’s story for my Child Development class in high school.

Now finally on to my point…how do you know if you really have writer’s block or A.D.D when it comes to writing?  The answer?  You don’t.  In one case, you could be in the middle of writing one story, but stop and move onto the next because you may have ran out of ideas on what to do next.  Then you would have writer’s block.  In the other case, you could be in the middle of writing one story, but stop and move onto the next because you lost interest in the story.  The plot is moving too slowly, you hate your characters, or you simply have an idea on what to do next, but you don’t like it.  Or you could be writing a scene and from that scene a whole new plot unfolds in your head for a completely different novel. That happens to me a lot and I cannot stress enough when I say a lot. That would probably be A.D.D. Either way, that novel is not getting done.

So, what is it exactly that I’m trying to say?  Whether you have writer’s block, A.D.D, or your pen just ran out of ink…that novel is not going to write itself.  Ideas or no ideas, new ideas or old ideas, keep that pen flowing or those fingers typing because believe me; once that first draft is done, a huge relief of accomplishment will surge through the veins in your body.

It took me nine months and seven days to complete the first draft of my young adult novel.  It was the very first novel I had ever finished (aside from the two children’s books).  I felt so relieved that I had actually finished something.  Sure, it was just the first draft and it was crap, but now I get to look forward to editing it and then finally kicking it out the door to get published.  I have edited it a couple of times and believe me, it still needs a lot of work.  The other young adult novel I completed took me two months and three days.  That one turned out even worse than the first novel I finished.  However, I got it done regardless of if I had ideas or not.  My main goal was just getting it done…which is why the first draft is so crappy.  Now when I edit it, I will catch errors, plot holes, and come up with new and better ideas for the story.  Believe me, it’s a lot easier working with something crappy than it is working with nothing at all.

Now, most people say that some novels can take up to a couple of years to write.  I believe that, but even though my first novel didn’t take me a year to write, I found that I felt much more accomplished with the novel I wrote in two months than I did with the novel I wrote in nine months.  So, it may be better for some people to write their novel slowly and carefully.  But, if you stay in character, keep the plot moving at an okay pace and actually have a beginning, middle, and an end; I think writing a novel as quickly as possible is the best bet.  Sure, editing will be harder than actually writing the story, but that’s how it should be.  When you write, have fun. Say what’s on your mind and write whatever ideas pop into your head. Then when you edit, you can curse all you want…what better way to take out your frustrations on a novel than to scribble all over it with red ink?

Don’t get frustrated because the novel isn’t finished; get frustrated because the finished novel isn’t polished to a sparkling shine.