Writer’s Block & Burnout

New Year Changes

I stepped into the New Year with trepidation as I awaited the installer of our new television and Internet provider to arrive. Is it not funny how these small-life changes can throw us for a loop?

Well, it did for me. Change was in the air and was it really going to be better as the new carrier suggested? I was apprehensive. We had used our previous providers for many years and were happy with both until recently.

I awoke at 5 a.m. to a blistering-cold morning of one degree. Would he come as promised on this chilly day?

But he arrived and got right to work. A pleasant man who knew his business. Within a couple of hours, I looked at my living room, where wires had stretched for years beside my couch and now I could clean behind it. Besides that, I no longer had to lock our downstairs-bedroom door to keep the cat from playing with the wires in there.

I also no longer had to fret over the modem. Would I have to restart the computer or unplug it today? Relief swept over me. I never realized how all these years these items gave me such anxiety. Now, I felt liberated and in the process I have better television with the program I missed and a faster Internet.

As the man said as he grasped the wires: “What I have in my hand is old technology.” He was right. I needed a change.

This also is true of authors. We get into our grooves and routines and forget to try new things. Last year, I tried something new – the anthology, Bride by Arrangement, with Ruth Ann Nordin. This endeavor allowed me to reach a different audience through my story, She Came by Train. Ruth Ann Nordin and I plan another anthology – a follow-up on last year’s – and my goal is to write book two – a follow-up on Courtships and Carriages – in the Great Plains series.

In addition, I am excited about writing again. I renewed that interest after the busy Christmas activity. I needed a break. Winter also puts you in the mood to write and sit by a fireplace, if you have one. I have one close but not near enough to curl up on a sofa and write. However, it does keep me cozy and keeps my fingers warm enough to type even if my work is gibberish at times. Ha! Ha!

It also makes for a great time to clean up your office and get rid of old files and rearrange your office. Without that modem sitting next to my computer, I was able to wipe away the dust where it used to lie and even that small step gave me pleasure.

When you throw away your old calendar, make sure you replace it with something inspirational to keep you excited about writing. I replaced my office-wall calendar with a calendar portraying a variety of paintings, including January’s winter scene with gray skies, cardinal birds perched on a white fence with a church in the background. The scene fills me with peace and awe in the Creator’s majesty.

Well to wrap up, remember to embrace the future and the change it brings, and I wish you the best in your 2015 writing career. God bless.

Categories: General Writing, Writer's Block & Burnout | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

Stuck For An Idea?

We’ve all been there at some point or another. We want to write, but nothing comes to us. Everything that does come to mind seems trite, boring, maybe even repetitive or used up. At times we stare at the blank page for hours on end, willing an idea for a story or a poem or an article to come to us. When nothing comes, we doubt ourselves as writers and we wonder if maybe we’ll never have a good idea again.

The good news is, there are ways to get the creative juices flowing again. And none of them involve sitting in front of a computer or notebook for hours hoping an idea will just pop up. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Instead of worrying about the problems you are dealing with, psychologists recommend finding something else to focus on. It’s not entirely clear why, but when the mind is unfettered and is free to roam or hone in on something other than a problem you’re dealing with, a solution often presents itself to you just when you least expect it.

When I’m stuck for an idea or experiencing writer’s block, I do anything but focus on the problem at hand for hours at a time. I’ll work on a blog post or another story. I’ll watch TV or read a good book. And if ideas don’t come after all that, I often find just going about my daily life is an inspiration. Some of my best ideas for stories occur during the semester. While at work or in my classes, a random thought, sometimes related to my coursework or the project I’m doing and sometimes not, will pop into my head and grab my attention. From that thought I can develop an idea, which turns into a story or article of some sort.

A great example of this happened in class a couple of weeks ago. During a discussion, one of my classmates made a comment about the Soviet Union in World War II and about D-Day. What he said so captivated me that it ended up being the foundation for a series of novels taking place in a dystopian communist nation (no idea when I’ll write them, but the fact is, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with them if I hadn’t been in that class on that day having that discussion and hadn’t seized on the thought when I least expected an idea to come to me).

Plenty of other authors are able to come up with ideas the same way, whether by taking classes, working, volunteering in the community, or finding some other hobbies or interests that occupy their time and allow the creative processes in their brains to do what they do naturally rather than being forced to produce something. It’s amazing what you can come up with when you try finding story ideas this way.

And if you do have an idea while pursuing this method, I highly recommend writing it down immediately. I write down all my ideas so that I don’t forget them, which Im prone to do. I even bought a little notebook the other day so I can write down ideas as they come to me and then put them down on a list on my flash drive when I’m at a computer so that I’ll remember them when I want to write them. (I used to just write on the back of my hand, but I’m kind of tired of seeing a bunch of ink scribbles covering my left hand.)

Categories: General Writing, Psychology of Writing & Publishing, The Writer & Author, Writer's Block & Burnout | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Author Fun: Random Title Generators

Have you ever stared at your manuscript, or your outline, while making a face like this:

Gollum plays the riddle game with Bilbo via The Hobbit

If the answer is yes, then welcome to the club!  the other day I was emailing with an author who joking said, “I wish they had book title generators” and I thought, “I’ll bet they do!” So off I hopped to google and – Guess what! – they do!

 Fiction Alley generator: For this one you need to input words and it will rearrange them into several titles. Yes, you could do it yourself, but it’s still kind of fun.

Warpcore SF generator: this one gives you both a title and a series name, but you only get one. To get another you need to hit the back button.  Still pretty fun.

Random title generator: This one gives you six at a time, and actually came up with some pretty compelling titles. There are some mature content words involved occasionally.

Fantastic Random title Generator: This one also has six titles at a time, as well as links to a Romantic Title Generator and a Sci-Fi/Fantasy title generator.

I had a lot of fun generating random titles, and even made notes of a few of them. But, beyond entertainment, what value does a title generator really have? For me it helps me to think “outside the box” – or rather outside “my” box, so to speak.  It actually suggested “Children of Petals” to me which, while it wouldn’t work itself, led me to think of Children of Shadows (Shadows being a word I have collected on my “good words for titles” list). Would I suggest straight up using one of the generated titles? Sure, why not, if it fits your story.  And even if none of the titles do, it’s a great way to kill twenty minutes.

How do you come up with titles or what are some of your favorites that someone else has written?

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Categories: The Writer & Author, Writer's Block & Burnout | Tags: , , , ,

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