Tag Archives: writersblock

Michele Sayre: A Thousand Words (give or take) – Writing From Different Places

A Thousand Words (give or take) – Writing From Different Places

By Michele Sayre

First, I’ve retitled my blog yet again because the title I had before was a bit limiting. But it wasn’t just the title I was having trouble with.

For the last three and a half years I’ve been wanting to write book-length non-fiction and also shorter non-fiction pieces like blog entries and essays. Yet I couldn’t stay with that type of writing and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I knew I was coming to non-fiction from a very personal and emotional perspective but I wasn’t quite aware that I write from a completely difference place inside of me unlike how I write fiction and poetry.

Here’s how I figured out I write from two different places inside me.

With fiction, I write from a place of excitement born from my imagination and inspiration. When I get an idea for a fiction story, I get really excited. My heart pounds and my nerves hum and all I want to do is write the story. I don’t plan our plot out my stories and yes, I get bogged down and even driven nuts by that. But it’s still a place of excitement even when the story is emotionally gut-wrenching.

With non-fiction, I don’t feel that excitement at all. I don’t feel my heart pounding and my nerves humming in anticipation. I write non-fiction sometimes starting out with a weigh on my chest that almost makes it hard for me to breathe. I write it sometimes on the edge of bawling my eyes out. I write it thinking so hard my brain almost hurts and my eyes cross and burn.

With fiction I feel great joy in telling a story. Sometimes I feel like a kid sitting down to hear a story read to me, or opening a book for the very first time, or sitting in a darkened movie theater. It’s a need and an intense desire to be a part of that rich storytelling tradition.

With non-fiction, it’s about getting my emotional baggage out of my head and a ton of difficult thoughts in order. It’s a need to share, but not from a place of joy like fiction. And this has been a hard realization for me, but a much-needed and very welcome one for me, too. This realization has lifted a big weight off my shoulders I’ve been trying to lift for a long time. Knowing I write non-fiction from a different place inside me and that it’s not a joyful one helps me understand it’s okay to feel like I do about it. It also tells me I’m okay in not working on the non-fiction all the time because if I did I’d probably go clear around the bend to crazy-town. I thought it was because they were big projects with a lot of moving parts but it’s what I have to think and feel in order to write them.

Writing is like falling down a rabbit-hole into Wonderland sometimes with all its’ assorted pitfalls and weird shit to deal with. For me, understanding why I write what I want to has been a big part of my life over the four years. I say I have a complicated relationship with writing and not just because I’ve been doing it for so long, and not just because of how I started, but because of what it’s led me to.

I’ve written a lot of stuff over the last four years that’s been very intense and emotional as hell for me. I’ve shared some of it but most of it has been trashed as I’ve deemed it too raw and unfocused. I see it was now just me venting off excess thoughts and emotions because I know as a writer I can’t just rant-and-rave on the page and edit the crap out of it to get something meaningful. For me, there has to be focus in what I put out there. I’m very good with fiction now in terms of staying on track so now I’ve just got to figure out how to do that with my non-fiction work.

And another thing that’s interesting is how I write poetry. That’s a bit of mix between that humming energy of fiction with the weight of non-fiction. My poetry comes out pretty fast and then I edit it down from there. It flows pretty quickly out of me but it’s almost like I’m desperate to get it out of me.

I think a lot of writers would refer to my difficulties in writing as ‘writer’s block’, and I think that’s a valid term here. I’ve never dismissed the term ‘writer’s block’ as I know that there are times when a writer can’t write and they have to figure out why. Stepping away from the keyboard and going inside your head, especially into the storage unit as I call it, isn’t easy. But like I’ve said before, it’s more than worth it.

I feel better now having written this out. I feel a weight coming off me and a clarity that is sharper than before. I’ve had a lot of these moments of clarity as I call them over the last four years or so and though this one doesn’t have me jumping for joy, I’m grateful for it.

About Michele Sayre:

Writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Native Texan, Uber-driver, taco lover, mom to chonky cat and diva dog.

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Please visit Michele’s blog for more amazing insights into the writer and the writing process: https://michelesayre.wordpress.com/

Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution.

Enzo Stephens: Writer’s Block

Writers Unite!’s Featured Blog Series!

Writers Unite! is fortunate to have among its members, many bloggers, and essayists who write content about the writing process or their author’s journey or both. We will be posting their articles for your information and enjoyment. Please read and comment, visit the author’s website, blog, or Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and share!

Writer’s Block

By Enzo Stephens

The Great Plague of all writers throughout the course of history. Writer’s Block. It’s such a big deal that both words get capital letters!

Just had a comical image pop into my head of an ancient writer encountering writer’s block as he’s trying to etch scribblings on a stone tablet. Doesn’t make a lick of historical sense, but there it is.

For as many writers as there have been throughout history — and I venture to say each and every one of them has hit the proverbial wall called Writer’s Block, well, just as many have the solution to the problem and are more than eager to share their wisdom.

Add me to the ranks of the eager.

Writer’s Block is a problem (for writers).

Understanding the root cause of the problem is typically one of the first and foremost steps in resolving the problem. Makes perfect sense to me.

But I’m more of a Doer instead of a Thinker; I’m not cerebral by any stretch — even though my pappy used to kvetch at me about being stuck inside my own head all the time; so my solutions tend to be pretty basic, though they’re effective for me. 

For me, as with many prolific scribblers, my brain is a non-stop hamster wheel of stories; and not ‘stories’ per se, but scenes and snippets, dialogues, action shots, what-if scenarios, and Great Ideas for a Story. 

So, from the very outset, sitting down to belt out a story requires an immediate discipline to corral my thoughts and stop that hamster wheel. And the bigger the story, the greater discipline required, and for me, that’s a huge Writer’s Block. Hell, half the time I just don’t feel like containing the chaos!

I don’t struggle for words or to figure out how to say things that are impactful; I have too much to say! Reining all that in is a JOB!

(You should see how much of a battle I go through to do a novel! Yeesh! Hello, brain… you suck!)

Ergo (I really like that word!), seems to me that my solution works whether I’ve got too much to say and I need to nail stuff down, or if I have nothing to say and I have to break the logjam. I have two proven, tried-and-true solutions to share with y’all.

Conversation

I really like this technique. Dialogue is — in my opinion, some of the easiest stuff to write. It’s just two people talking. Happens all the time, everywhere across the world, and it happens for everyone.

“But Enzo, an imaginary conversation?”

Nah, screw that. Look, all of us have conversations that just don’t go the way we want them to go. Maybe we left things unsaid that should have been said.

So say them!

Write it out.

Don’t punctuate, don’t dialogue-tag, just write it. What was said, and then you make it fiction by finishing off what you WANTED to say, or what SHOULD have been said.

After you write it, go grab an adult beverage, come back and read it. You’ll love it! Why? Because it’s what you wanted to say; the conversation went the way you wanted it to go, even if it’s only fiction.

BOOM! 

Stream It

Aka, Stream-of-Consciousness writing.

I absolutely love this technique. Here’s what to do:

1. Put yourself in a place with no distractions.

2. Set your alarm for five minutes in the future.

3. Open a blank document, wordpad, whatever.

4. Write!

Sounds a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? But really, this is hugely effective when stuck for verbiage.

Here’s what to write about…

Whatever. 

One other rule for this exercise: don’t punctuate or paragraph.

So the end result ends up being a big fat blob of nonsense. I did this once and wrote nothing but profanity, and then I spent the next several days laughing hysterically at it. It was good sh^t; funny as all get out and outrageously graphic.

Here’s the hidden beauty of doing this; somewhere in that mess you’ll discover the kernel, word, verbiage, thought, whatever that kick-starts your Muse right in her tukas.

Remember. 

This isn’t to get you over your particular block; it’s to encourage you to remember what you really love about telling stories, even if it’s only just to tell stories. 

Re-Discover your JOY.

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Next from Enzo Stephens: Planning vs. Pantsing

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For more of Enzo’s writing visit him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011 or check out the monthly archives here on the WU! blog.

( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Adam J. Johnson: Channeling your Muse

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Writer’s block is a topic we like to frequently touch on because it’s something that plagues us all! No matter what type of writer you may be, whether it’s technical writing, blogging, journalism, or you’re purely an author, you have done battle with this daunting foe. It rears its head at the most inconvenient times and makes you feel powerless. It’s seemingly a random occurrence that shows up and leaves as it pleases. This however, is not the case. There are several reasons that we suffer from writer’s block and several reasons why some are less plagued by it than others. Our muse or personal source of inspiration is one of the tools in our arsenal against writer’s block. Sadly, we often view our muse in the same way that we do writer’s block. We think it’s random. How many times have you felt the rush of inspiration striking and urging you to take action? How many times have you thought, “I just don’t feel inspired,” or “I wish my muse would speak to me?” Let me tell you, your muse is like that old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile. You really miss them and want to talk to them, but you aren’t sure how to approach it. The answer is always as simple as reaching out and connecting with them.

The first step is identifying your muse. Now, I know this may seem pretty basic, but there are several of us who go completely by feel and haven’t put much thought into where their inspiration comes from. Your muse is, at its simplest, what motivates you. Let’s dive into that, shall we? Naturally, this will be different for everyone, but the core ideas are the same. Your muse speaks to you. You just have to stop, cut out the noise and distraction of everyday life, and listen. For authors, I find that your muse is often tied to the genre you are writing in. When you search for her using that filter, it will be much easier to identify your muse. For example, I love Fantasy. I love reading it, and I love writing it! So, I look at what inspires me most about Fantasy and I surround myself with those things while I’m writing. Which brings me to the second step of channeling your muse. Keeping your inspiration consistent throughout your day!

I am a visual person, so Fantasy imagery strikes me hard and inspires me without fail! Since I primarily write Fantasy, I will keep posters with Fantasy themes in my writing space, and I will change the lock screens of my phone and laptop to mirror the ideas of my current project. This is me channeling my muse, keeping in contact with my old friend inspiration. I also love music, as most of us do, so let your muse speak through the music you listen to as well. I personally love metal music, but not all of it is really inspiring for Fantasy, but I find some that is. When in the middle of a project, I listen to a lot of symphonic metal bands like Epica and Nightwish. The orchestral elements submerge me in a feel of the old world and put me in the Fantasy writing mood. If i’m feeling something a little lighter, I will listen to bands like Flogging Molly. The old Irish culture flows through the lyrics while the fiddles transport me to that medieval state of mind. A few common enemies to inspiration are distractions like TV and the internet, so I try to find creative ways to turn distractions into inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, even if you execute this part well, they are still distractions and too much of it will lead to excuses to not get your work done.

So, what do I mean by turning distractions into inspiration? I’m going to continue with writing Fantasy as an example. If I feel like binge watching TV, I try to keep the themes of what I’m watching within the realm of Fantasy. I will watch shows like The Magicians or movies like Lord of the Rings. The internet, particularly Facebook and social media, seems to be a huge source of distraction for us these days. In order to combat that, I try to follow a lot of pages that are Fantasy themed or engage in Fantasy discussions within the writers’ groups. Also, if I find myself staring at my phone or the computer, I will search through Pinterest boards. Just shuffling through Fantasy images usually helps send a shockwave of inspiration through my brain.

Obviously, you won’t be able to spend your whole day totally immersed in themes and elements from your genre. That could even be counterproductive. However, these are just some ways that you can channel your muse throughout your day to keep your inspiration flowing strong. Don’t Look at inspiration as some random phenomenon that strikes as it feels. Remember that your muse is as much a part of you as your willpower or your sense of humor. She is always there waiting to inspire you. It just depends on how much you feed her and nurture the relationship. When you combine steps 1 and 2, you are not only channeling your muse, but you are feeding her. Making her grow stronger and giving her a more prominent voice in your mind. So, instead of it being a step-by-step process, it’s more of an equation to bolster your personal investment.

As always, the team at WU! wishes you happy writing, urges you to stay inspired, and insists that you live limitless!!

Adam J Johnson

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(Illustration: Apollo and the Muses)