It happens to all of us at different points in our writing lives: we hit a stretch where we can’t seem to finish anything, or the ideas have dried up faster than morning rain on an Arizona highway. It happened to me this last year when I finished one novel and was excited to start a fresh project, except each novel idea I started fizzled out. They weren’t right. Same went for a few short stories I had rattling around in my head. I’d make it halfway through before casting each aside. Even poems felt forced. I felt stuck. I WAS stuck. And I was breaking Neil Gaiman’s wise and important rule: “Whatever it takes to finish things, finish.” It was a hollow, scary feeling.
But instead of sitting back and waiting for inspiration to strike, I tried a few of the methods below to jumpstart that old excited feeling, to help me start something I could finish. I picked these up from other writers, so it's not like these are fresh, original ideas, but they helped me out, bit by bit. I’m hoping that if they worked for me, they’ll work for you. Read More
About twelve years ago I received a poetry rejection from a magazine editor who shall remain nameless (because I can’t remember who it was for the life of me). This editor told me he rejected my work because the poems were all about myself, the poet, writing poetry, and nobody cares about “I” poems anymore. While this was (and remains) untrue in the wider sense, it took me years to understand what this editor meant by his rejection. Read More
The end of April and beginning of May have been frustratingly slow in terms of writing progress. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block so much as being lost in the woods—figuratively for me, literally for my characters. It's not the type of situation where I don't know what to write, but I keep writing and getting deeper and deeper—and what's worse—more lost. Read More
So far this new blog is mostly writing advice and a couple of new book announcements. In the hopes of appearing more like an actual human doing actual human things and not a PR spam-bot posing as a writer, here are some real, true, honest "life-things" for your optical intake receptors. Engage!
The new novel (the one fictionalizing a real missing persons case from 1945) was in a major slump over the last week, like a ‘Dostoevsky freezing at the train station I’ll never be able to write again’ slump. Then I finally broke through in the last 48 hours. Mostly because I told myself, “forget about description and action right now, the next 3-4 pages is all dialogue, so just do that and come back later and pick up a Crayola and jazz the scene up.” And that worked. Just stop worrying, thinking, planning, outlining, tinkering, and just write dialogue and revise later. So, like the Kool-Aid Man — KABOOM — breakthrough. Read More