Writer’s Block: Frustration

We’ve all had it: Writer’s Block. The dreaded halt of ideas and inspiration. Feeling like a dried up well. Stuck rewriting the same chapter over and over again and knowing it’s not improving. Missing that passion that makes your book come alive.

We’ve all experienced this for one reason or another. But for me, what comes from writer’s block and can be even more stifling is frustration. The inability to put words on a page and your characters suddenly going silent on you is so frustrating, and it can make writer’s block even worse. I’m unable to clear my head because I’m trying to force a story that won’t come. And if I write something when I’m frustrated I know it’s not my best quality. The longer I have trouble writing, the more frustrated I become. It just builds and builds, and I start to fear it will never end. And fear is a whole other side of writer’s block I’ll save for another post.

For a lot of people writer’s block isn’t just the inability to write, it’s the inability to write well or to develop ideas. You can still put words on the page but they are probably missing that passion. That storytelling element that makes all good books worth reading.

So how can we overcome frustration?

  • Take a break from writing
  • Scroll through your favorite social media for inspiration
  • Watch shows with characters that have inspired you
  • Write short pieces with no pressure on yourself
  • Remind yourself why you love to write
  • Relax and breath
  • Always remember this will come to an end, the words will flow again

I know it can be difficult, but I think easing out that frustration can really help you to overcome writer’s block. I know it’s not as easy as following these suggestions, however they can be a good place to start.

Writing First Chapters

I am so excited about this topic because writing a first chapter is my absolute favorite part of writing a book. It might be because I don’t really plot out my books, I have a general idea of where it’s going, but starting a new book means there are going to be so many mysteries to unlock and characters to discover. I also find when done properly it can be incredibly exciting.

I know that everyone has a different way of doing writing first chapters, but these are a few key factors I like to rely on. Keep in mind that I write fantasy for YA, and you should always write your first chapters within the structure of your genre. Also, I have a tendency to write fast-paced openings that drop you right into the middle of the action, so if fast-paced isn’t your style my post might not be for you. However, I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you write openings differently anyway.

Hold Back on the Details

Yes, I know, you’ve created this really incredible world filled with magic systems, laws, new nations, political strife, among so many other things and you’re excited to dig into this world and show the reader everything you created. However, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, be careful not to create information overload. That’s when you provide so many details that either your reader can’t absorb all the information or your writing can become slow and dull because it is weighed down with detail. Instead, introduce your world slowly overtime. It’s fine to introduce a couple aspects of your world if they are relevant to your first chapter, or important for the understanding of your second chapter, but try not to ‘info dump’. Remember your reader has an entire book to explore your world and it will be much more satisfying if they can remember all the little details because you paced yourself in exploring that world.

Focus on One Main Character

When I open a book, I want to know why I should care about the main character. My current book is written from multiple perspectives, so for the first chapter I focused on one character in particular. Opening with a strong character can really ground your readers immediately in the book. They know who they are following. But introducing a lot of characters, even in third person omniscient view, can make it difficult for readers to know who they should be following. You can introduce a few characters in the first chapter, but I always try to focus on one character specifically because it gives a focus for your reader. I think grounding them in your world is really important.

Have a Goal

I’ve seen it written a few times: your first chapter should read almost like a short story. I agree with this and I don’t. When I write my first chapter I certainly have a goal in mind, something that my character is trying to achieve. It doesn’t have to be a big goal, but there should be something. And unlike a short story that ends quickly, your opening needs to set up the rest of your book. Whatever your character is achieving, or striving for, should be important to the rest of the plot. So, as you write your opening chapter try to have a self-contained goal that can be achieved that also relates to the second chapter and overall story line. It can be tricky, but I think it’s an effective way to write.

Have Tension

There should be something at stake. It doesn’t have to be a life or death situation, but provided you have a goal for your first chapter, you should also try to create tension around it. That tension, or suspense, will keep your readers interested. The best way to achieve this tension in such a short amount of time is to make sure each of the characters in the chapter want something. Then put an obstacle in their way. Right there you have tension, suspense and stakes.

Best Practices for First Chapters

  • Don’t overwhelm the reader with too many details
  • Introduce only one or two main characters
  • Have something that the character is trying to achieve
  • Tension will keep your reader reading

Of course I’m not an expert by any means, I just find these tips have worked really well for me, at least within my genre of choice. There are many ways to write opening chapters, but if you’re looking to have an emotionally charged and fast-paced opening I hope my post was helpful to you.

If you have any other tips, or write in a different genre and style so your openings are different feel free to comment! I’d love to heard about it!

Writing LGBT Representation

When my book gets published I personally know people who will hate me, or at the very least will judge me silently, because I have LGBT representation in my novel. I shouldn’t have to defend my choice to include LGBT characters (it’s 2019!) and yet, I know I will.

I’m not LGBT personally, but I am an ally. Perhaps that means I have no right to thoughts on this matter, but it’s something I think deeply about because I know so many people who are opposed to LGBT rights. Which in my opinion is ridiculous and needs to change. Writing a book with an asexual character and a gay character are just the start of that.

I hope to portray my LGBT characters as fully developed, three dimensional characters and not just some stereotype we’ve all seen on TV before. If you’re part of the LGBT community, you are valid and you deserve representation. I’m preparing myself for conversations, arguments, and lack of support from people I know. It makes me feel as though there is a rock sitting in the middle of my stomach. I will never understand how difficult it can be for members of the LGBT community to come out, when I’m nervous about something as simple as characters in a book. I have a lot of compassion for all of you. My hope is to show people how to be a supportive LGBT ally, and how to accept everyone fully for who they are. I’ve already started having conversations with some of these people even though it shouldn’t even be a discussion that LGBT lives matter, and whether they deserve representation. Perhaps my thoughts on this matter are meaningless because I’m not LGBT, but I will continue to write stories encompassing characters who are, and I really shouldn’t have to defend that choice.

I’ll admit it still surprises me that there are people who don’t accept LGBT lives or support them, but it only takes one ill-spoken word, one off the cuff joke, to piss me off and remind me about why representation is important. Everyone deserves to see someone they relate too in a story, someone who is like them. Basically, this is a long way of saying I write LGBT characters and I will always fight for acceptance.

This post is for all my LGBT+ friends. And an apology for my ignorant words before I began to understand true kindness, compassion, and love.

Why do I write?

Why do I write?

I think this is a question that writers both ask themselves a lot, and also instinctively know the answer too. Though the reasons for writing are vast and vary from person to person, we all have our go to answer for this question.

For myself, writing has always been an escape from reality. It’s a chance to create these amazing fantasy worlds and to go on journeys with characters whose personalities are often different than mine. It is an endless blank page for creativity.

Writing is also very calming. As someone who is often anxious and gets stressed out easily, writing lets me clear my mind and refocus on the things that are important.

I also write because I’m inspired by the stories I have read. Evoking an emotion in a reader with a few clicks on my keyboard in the same way an incredible story did for me has been the most gratifying part of writing. I want to share my love of reading. I want to evoke laughter and sadness and suspense.

Mostly, I think stories connect everyone and I want to help create those connections. And if my writing ever helps someone – as many books have done for me during difficult times in my life – I’ll have done what I believe writers are meant to do.

I think, as writers, we all have a little bit of that in us. A desire to connect.