Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2 Writer's Block: Myth or Reality? By Lori Goldstein


Today we're welcoming the ever lovely Lori Goldstein to the blog. Lori is the author of the highly acclaimed Becoming Jinn series, including Circle of Jinn, which published yesterday! There's a giveaway happening around the release, so head over to Lori's blog for more details. Today, she's speaking about the intricacies of writers block.

Writer’s Block: Myth or Reality? By Lori Goldstein

In the year since Becoming Jinn released, I’ve been fortunate to do more than fifty events, everything from book festivals to school visits to writing workshops to Skype chats. If I had to guess, I’d say the number one question asked by writers, teens and adults, is how to deal with writer’s block.

Here’s how I respond: butt in chair.

You deal with writer’s block by adhering to that age-old advice of how to write a novel: you put your butt in a chair and write.

Flippant? Yes. Cheeky? Yes? True? Sort of.

The truth is, I don’t believe in writer’s block. At least, I don’t believe in that conception of writer’s block as something that prevents you from producing, as something that stops you from writing. Because writing is not just about typing.

My very wise friend and fellow YA author Courtney Stevens says this: “I write while standing up and I type while sitting down.” This may very well be my favorite piece of writing advice. But what does this mean?

This means that writing is not done solely, or even mostly, when your fingers are hitting letters on the keyboard. Writing is about thinking. And thinking is how you deal with writer’s block.

That blank white page, that blinking cursor, those are terrifying things to all writers at some point during the long journey of writing a book (and maybe through all points!).

Starting a novel may be exciting for some, and yet for others (me included), when I open a blank document and the words that will start my manuscript await their first appearance on the page, I seize up. Getting out that first line may take hours, literally hours. Is that writer’s block? My answer is no.

For some authors, the middle of the book is where they begin to slow down. Where the many threads feel like the strings of balloons released from the hands of a kindergarten class. Just out of grasp. How will I ever reach and bring them all back to Earth, to something that becomes a cohesive story? Is this moment of doubt writer’s block? My answer, again, is no.

And for others, it’s the ending. Foundations are laid, arcs are in place, and yet the climax eludes. The perfect line to leave in your reader’s mind paralyzes. The cursor blinks, blinks, blinks. Is this writer’s block? You guessed it, no. Not to me.

Because, remember, I don’t believe in writer’s block. What I believe in is the need to think.

I’m a planner by nature, personally and professionally. My outline for Becoming Jinn took me six weeks to create and was eighty pages. My outline for Circle of Jinn was similar. My outline for my current work-in-progress is fifty pages, but it took me almost ten weeks to sort out.

That’s a lot of time. That’s a lot of time spent thinking before a single word is written. I think this contributes to me experiencing less of that “writer’s block” than some. The time I’d spend staring at that blinking cursor was spent instead staring at a blank notebook page before I even began to write a word of the manuscript. This is my process. This works for me. I’d rather hit the stumbling blocks, the “this is never going to work” in the outlining stage than in the writing stage.

Still, I hit bumps all the time. A storyline doesn’t play out the way I expected. A character appears or goes off-roading. That’s okay. That’s great. But it makes me pause. It makes me take a step back and reconsider. Is this writer’s block? No. But I’m not typing, I’m not “writing”. Words aren’t on the page. And you know what I may be doing instead?

Walking laps around my 1,100-square-foot condo. Going for a jaunt around my neighborhood. Stepping on the treadmill at the gym or diving into the pool. Or, best of all, taking a shower.

While doing something “mindless,” my brain is free to work. My mind is writing even though my fingers aren’t. Thinking through the problem, brainstorming solutions, be it for a plot point, a character motivation, or even that perfect first or last line, that’s how you battle writer’s block.

In essence, writer’s block boils down to not knowing what comes next. And that is frightening. That creates self-doubt and that eats away at self-confidence. But because all writer’s block is is not knowing what comes next, you can fix it. You can solve that puzzle because you’re a writer and that’s what you do. You create stories, characters, and you create solutions to the problem of what comes next.

When you imagine writer’s block in this way, and you free yourself from writing only when you’re sitting down, you too will say, there’s no such thing as writer’s block.

ABOUT THE BOOK



Being Jinn is Azra’s new reality. As she grants wishes under the watchful eye of the Afrit council, she remains torn between her two worlds—human and Jinn. Soon, secrets spill. Zars are broken. Humans become pawns. And rumors of an uprising become real as the Afrit’s reach extends beyond the underground world of Janna.

Straddling the line becomes impossible. Aware of her unique abilities, Azra must not just face but embrace her destiny. But when the role she must play and those she must protect expand to include a circle of Jinn greater than her own, Azra will be forced to risk everything. A risk that means there’s everything to lose, and at the same time, everything to gain—for herself and her entire Jinn race.

In this dramatic sequel to Becoming Jinn, Azra’s story comes to a heartfelt and thrilling conclusion.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

About the Author

Lori Goldstein is the author of Becoming Jinn and its sequel, Circle of Jinn. She is a former journalist who has found her love of fictional people. She is a freelance editor for all genres.

2 comments:

  1. Loved reading this! It made me realize that all that time I spend "thinking" about the plot or character arc is part of the process, even if I'm not technically "writing" at that time. This was a much needed reminder :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loved reading this! It made me realize that all that time I spend "thinking" about the plot or character arc is part of the process, even if I'm not technically "writing" at that time. This was a much needed reminder :)

    ReplyDelete

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