Karen
Kelley
Help! I'm Blocked!

I recently had a friend tell me she was terrified about starting her next book. The more she tried to write, the worse her fear became. It had been years since this happened to her.

Been there done that. In fact. right after I was offered a three book contract. As soon as the euphoria wore off--reality set in. Here I was with three deadlines, working full-time, and wondering why on God's green earth an editor even offered a contract from a synopsis and 3 chapters AND wondering what I was going to do now. Old fears came back to haunt me.

Do you really think you're a writer? Ha! What a joke. How many people do you think you're going to fool? You have no earthly idea what you're doing.

But now I had to write. I didn't have a choice. I sat down at the computer, stared at the blank screen...and cried. And as I sat there I began to think about why I started writing in the first place. I mean the very first time I even had a hint that's what I wanted to do?

For me, it was because I HAD to write the stories in my head.

And when I started writing I laughed, and I cried, and sometimes I just smiled along with my characters. They became my friends. I let them lead me down roads I wasn't brave enough to walk. They were able to overcome their weakness/doubts/fears where I still couldn't face all of mine. I was eager to get to the computer back then, and I put it above so many other things in my life.

As I gained experience, I began to create better books, but I lost some of the fun because it became work. I had to worry about putting in the 5 senses, smooth transitions, pacing, character development, arcs.... How was I supposed to remember all this stuff?

The one thing my editor told me from the very beginning was: Just have fun with your writing.

I agree. *sigh* My editor is so wise! Don't forget why you started writing. The first draft should be pure fun.

Work your butt off on the following drafts!

If you're stuck, here are some tricks I've learned that help me:

I light incense and meditate a few minutes before I write (we can do this because writers are eccentric anyway :) While meditating I think about how great it is to be a writer. For a moment I fantasize about winning an award, or getting a big royalty check, or another contract. This is a place where I could stay for hours. I discovered I had to limit myself time-wise in that particular fantasy! And never do it while driving! I ran a red light once while accepting an award and...but that's a story for another time.

Once my acceptance speeches are out of the way *smile*, I begin to think about my characters until I feel a connection with them. I think about the story. Just free thinking. Let your mind and body relax. How is the heroine feeling. The hero. When I'm in the "zone" I open my eyes and start writing. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes, sometimes longer. I know when I think about my characters before I start writing it's less of a struggle. Find what works for you.

If you've never done The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, I highly recommend it. I still pull out my copy and use it. There's a couple of sentences that really help me a lot:

"Creativity is God's gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God."

Remember, write for the pure joy of writing. Worry about editing later.

Hope this helps!