The Secret Way to Never Have Writer’s Block

TitlePic2You may be wondering how I concocted a formula for never having this author-wide phenomenon of getting stuck in one’s writing. I wish I could say it was as simple as telling you “y=mx+b”. Or wait . . . maybe it really is that simple.

First, I want to break the problem of writer’s block down. We cannot find a solution to it until the problem is clearly defined. I have determined two reasons why writer’s block exists for a storyteller (someone who writes fiction or even non-fiction stories). If these two reasons would never occur, then writer’s block would never occur, and the life of a writer would be a whole lot easier.

You have writer’s block because. . .

1: You do not know your story well enough.

2. You are not inspired/motivated to write on a certain given day.

Many people want to throw in a third reason by saying they do not have the time to write. This reason can easily be dispelled because writing does not have to take up much time from day to day. There is always some entertainment time that can be given up for the sake of writing, and every true author who truly writes books has come to terms with setting aside time to write. For us authors, if we have time to brush our teeth, then we have time to write.

The problem remains that there are still two reasons why writer’s block occurs. Let’s take a look at the first reason. If you do not know clearly what you want from a certain scene you are composing, then the chances are you will not be able to find the right words to put down on paper. There is a simple reason why this first problem keeps occurring. When you do not know your story well enough, you cannot truly envision it inside your head.

The entire purpose of an author in writing a story is to attempt to implant inside the reader’s mind the same images that the author has inside his own. If you as an author cannot see the images of your story, then it is unlikely for your reader to, either.

There is a simple fix to clearly defining the images that make up the scenes for your story. All you have to do is remember the first spark of motivation that inspired you to write your story. Whatever that spark was can be told in an image. Clearly understand that image. From there, all that needs to be done is to define the images that branch out of the first image. These images become all the scenes of your story. Doing this creates a mind-map of your story. A mind-map can easily be converted into an outline for your story.

Now that you know your story well from the images that compose your story, we still have to solve the second problem of not having inspiration/motivation to write on a given day. There are many cures for this, but I have found one cure to be particularly helpful. It’s called, “Making Writing a Habit”. As said earlier in this post, all of us professional writers have to come to terms with the fact that we write a lot. Writing a lot means writing every single day, six days a week. I confess that I do not follow this strictly in my life. However, under times when I set my teeth to complete a project, I have found this to be the only way to succeed at writing. Writing every day takes the heat off of any particular day you don’t have motivation or inspiration. On that day, you only have to write for ten minutes. More concentration can always be given on another writing day, since you’re writing six days a week.

One thing to add: If you find that you NEVER have motivation/inspiration to write, or if you USUALLY don’t have motivation/inspiration to write, this means one of two things: 1) You need to choose a different story/book topic, 2) you hate writing and therefore should not be an author.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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How to Edit Your Story Using Fillers

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When I write a book, there are chapters that end up being shorter than what I need them to be. Usually, I write my first draft on pen and paper and transcribe it into a word processor. Pen and paper eliminates spending a whole day editing a few paragraphs around and not making more progress on your story (that’s something I call Editing Syndrome). It also eliminates the millions (okay, maybe just thousands) of distractions that come with a computer.

When I revise my story, I use a word processor – usually. There are times it is good to use real ink even when revising a story. If you realize that a chapter is too short or that you need to add a scene somewhere, going back to ink and paper is generally the best way to construct your scene.

I did this just today, and it worked!

The only steps you have to do is 1) plan where you are going to insert the new scene and edit the text accordingly for it. 2) Write the scene using pen and paper. 3) Transcribe it into the word processor where you are supposed to insert the text. 4) Read the new version and revise to make everything flow.

It’s really that simple. Try it for yourself.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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The Top 10 Reasons Why Every Storyteller Should Write About Nature

  1. Nature is aesthetically pleasing.

It makes your story that much more alive. Rich descriptions of nature as the characters interact with it throughout the plot (whatever plot that is) are always a thrill to read and refreshes the reader.

  1. Nature is imaginable.

We are always interacting with and around nature, even when we do not realize it. When we read nature in a story, we can easily envision what is being described. This paints wonderful pictures in our heads and makes it easy for the author to convey into our minds the same images he/her envisioned.

  1. Nature draws a reader into a story.

Unless we can (as the main character of the story does) feel the texture of the tree, smell the pine needles, feel the rich soft grass and dirt, hear the babbling brook, listen to the birds and insects chirp, watch the setting sun shaft through the limbs of the trees, then we won’t be attracted to the story. When these descriptions are included, we will be drawn in to experience the story ourselves.

  1. Nature defines the scene.

How can you describe what a scene looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like, and tastes like without any nature at all? The only way to describe an environment of a story is by using nature.

  1. Nature is very interactive.

It is easy for us to picture a main character walking his horse down a cobblestone path through the woods in the late afternoon because even though we might not have done so ourselves, we have felt stone before. We have walked through woods before. And, we have seen the late afternoon sun shaft through the limbs of a small forest.

  1. Nature is all around us.

Have you ever tried reading a story in an airport and then out in a park near a garden? Why is it you could visualize the story so much better in the park? Well, there could be thousands of reasons, everything from being nervous about your flight to the shouts and conversations of others in the airport. Yet, as nature draws us into the story, we generally find that we can understand it much better if we are around nature ourselves.

  1. Without nature, stories don’t make sense.

A story without nature is a story of confusion.

  1. Without nature, stories are dull.

If the characters never interact with nature, the story will not be imaginative.

  1. Without nature, stories cannot be visualized.

It’s impossible to truly be able see the paintings of the story without descriptions of nature.

  1. Without nature, your book will have all the negative reviews.

No one likes a story that doesn’t have nature described throughout it.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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How to Set Writing Priorities

Making certain to write every day can be a big challenge, yet if you’re not writing every day, then you are not a writer. You are a dabbler – writing on this day, writing on that, but not being consistent. In order to be a writer, you have to write every day. You have to make writing a habit.

As soon as I make writing a habit, I realize that inevitably there are other priorities that begin to raise their heads. How do I make sure I get my blog posts published? What about my YouTube writing videos or my podcasts or emails? Is there any way I can spend x hours doing the lawn work I have to do this week? Etc. Etc. Etc.

I’ve realized the following: There are certain weeks when marketing has a higher priority, and there are certain weeks when writing has a priority. Yet, I still have to be writing every day. There are just some times when the writing will not be as much as usual. Don’t do this randomly. Figure out when you have to make writing a priority. Below are some guidelines.

Make writing a priority when. . .

  1. You are writing a first draft to a story.

Never, never, never drag the first draft of a story out too long. If you have to, table everything else. Make certain you complete the first draft. Then, you’ll be done with the most discouraging part of the writing process.

  1. You are nearing the half-way point with a story revision.

After the first draft of a story is completed, it’s easy to spend some time focusing on other priorities. Then, you begin to revise your story, yet it still doesn’t have first dibs. Make certain that as you progress through the revision process, you are raising the writing priority until it is first on your list. Keep this up until it is complete and ready for publication.

  1. You are behind with the macro-goals of how much writing you wanted done by the end of the year/bi-yearly.

If you realize your long-term goals aren’t being met, then do the following: 1) Make writing more of a habit, 2) Make writing more of a priority, and 3) (if you are already doing the prior steps as much as humanly possibly) Make your goals more realistic.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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The Amazing Secrets of Storytelling

Now that I have your attention by my motivating headline, you probably think that I’m either a genius or a quack. The truth is neither. The amazing secrets of storytelling are something that’s common sense; the trouble is that so few people are taught common sense these days. I can give you the secrets in three simple words.

Imagination. Inspiration. Wholesomeness.

Imagination refers to your ability to give your reader through words the same visions and images you have inside your head. Drawing a reader into your story takes imagination – the right descriptions, composition of scenes, environments, and proper portrayals of characters.

Inspiration refers to everything you need to gather in order to have imagination. I call this “reference material”. The truth is that no writer is 100% original, or even 50% original. We acquire our ideas from our interactions with the real world: Places we go to, people we visit, paintings/pictures we observe, other stories we read, stories we are told verbally, smells and tastes, etc.

Wholesomeness refers to the level of simple virtues placed within a story. If your story never talks about food or nature or sleep/rest or water or trees or rocks or characters who appreciate such things, then your story will not be a good one.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Building Morale for Writing

Yes, it’s true. I will finally admit the one secret that no author wants to admit. Is everyone ready? Here we go.

There are some days when even the best of us don’t feel like writing. Perhaps this is because we are working through a difficult point in our book. Perhaps this is because we are intensely working on some other project in our lives. For whatever the reason, a day comes when we sit down to write, and the words don’t come onto the paper.

How do we build morale? How do we regain interest in the point we are at in our writing?

The answer is that we have other gathered material that can help us to springboard our creativity. We know ahead of time that we will get stuck at some points in the tunnel. Therefore, we prepare for it. Writing preparation is essential to writing. Before you write a story, you must gain reference material: Photos, paintings, real places you visit, stories you read, people you talk to. . .You must gain research: Fact checking for whatever subject matter you are writing about (whether fiction or non-fiction). . .You must write an outline that becomes the schematic and road map of your story. You must compile other lists of the elements of your story.

All this is essential to your writing capability. When your morale is down for the story you are writing, all you have to do is turn to the inspired images and imagined scenes you have created for your story. Remember the vision. Remember why you wanted to write the story in the first place. Lastly, remember that that vision will not be entirely clear until your final edit. Be encouraged with where you’re at in the process of creating the story.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Gain Insight in Writing

As in everything, a good writer must learn insight in writing. An author must be able to look at his/her writing and pretty much instinctively be able to know what is wrong with it and how to change it.

Yet, how do authors learn this skill? Are we superhuman? Is there a learning curve?

If you are a new author, then understand this: We have all been where you are at right now. No one can write a perfect first book. What’s more: Not even a professional can write a perfect first draft. However, over time, we learn how to identify our mistakes. We approach writing as a process. Just as an athlete doesn’t do a high dive or a marathon without first warming up his muscles, so also an author doesn’t plunge through a book without warming up his “pen”. We gain inspiration and research. We compile reference material. And, we work through an outline. We recognize that each stage in the writing process is building our final work, yet none of it will be our final vision until the final draft is edited. And even then, we learn to release our work to the public even though we know there is more that could be done with it. Any project can always have more done to it.

Gaining insight is more than just practicing writing. It’s doing something over and over again that we have a love for. Every writer loves to write. Every storyteller (like myself) loves to create a new story and work through all the stages to complete it as we originally envisioned it to be.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Prioritize Your Marketing

In order to be effective in your marketing, you have to learn what marketing techniques will be most effective. If you try to dedicate the same amount of time for each marketing action, one of two things will result.

  1. You will spend 100% of your time marketing and still not have enough time to get everything done.

Or

  1. You will not be able to do any marketing task completely because you have not concentrated your efforts for the proper completion of a marketing task.

In order to avoid these mistakes when you market your books, think about what actions will be most effective and which will be least effective. If you don’t know what marketing steps are less effective, then trial and error to find out. Think about long term projections, and research what yields the best increase. For example, YouTube marketing is big now and there are a lot of long term benefits that may result if you stick at it for a long period. Podcasts may generally yield quicker benefits, yet it isn’t as effective as YouTube can be long term.

Once you have determined what marketing techniques are more and less effective, prioritize your time accordingly. Keep on top of the highest priorities every single day. Do middle priorities a few times a week. And, do the least priorities once or at most twice in a week.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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How to Market Your Books

So. . .most people who begin writing think that they can just write their books, get them published, and watch the cash flow in. However, for most of us, the story is vastly different.

We don’t watch the cash flow in. Our books are difficult to publish. And, if we don’t promote and market our books, then they will not sell.

Therefore, you are going to have to balance the time you spend writing with the time you spend marketing. Here are a couple tips that I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Do something to market every day.

Even if you are in the middle of writing your book, take half an hour to market your books – whether this is a blog post, podcast, YouTube video, telemarketing, emailing, you decide. Yet, make certain you do something to market.

  1. Dedicate 1 day a week to just marketing.

In addition to step one, set a whole day aside to promote your books. If you are writing a first draft to a book, then you will need to spend some time that day writing your book, but only spend 10 minutes or so writing your book. Spend the rest of the time marketing. In this day, plan out the marketing for the coming week. Don’t “pepper spray” your marketing. Create a strategy, and stick to it.

  1. Every now and then, spend a whole week just marketing.

You cannot do this if you are writing the first draft of your book. Spend your time completing that draft. Yet, maybe once every other month, or sometimes once a month, it is best to spend a whole week just concentrating on marketing your books.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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How to Eliminate Boredom from Your First Draft?

In my painful experiences, I have learned that the number 1 problem with creating a first draft of a story (more often than not) is pushing away boredom from the actual process of writing. If you’ve done all your homework correctly, then you have a pretty good idea of the scenes you want to write and have even created an outline of your story. You’ve gathered reference material and have dozens of imagined images in your head of various story scenes. You even have stories that stimulate your imagination, schedules that show you don’t have to write everything at once, and you’ve even gone the extra mile in finding a place to write where you will not be distracted.

Yet, when you sit down to write, you want to do anything but write. You check the news first, your email first, your work project first, your book reading first, your marketing work first, your workout first, your house chores first – ANYTHING – just to keep away from drafting your story. When you do start drafting, you write a little bit and then feel tired of it.

For me, the second draft is always MUCH more invigorating. That’s when the excitement really begins. The best part about the first draft is beginning the first chapter. Finding the right beginning is a thrill. Then, the slogging begins from there and only seems to worsen until the very last few pages of your story.

I wish I could give a less glaring solution to this problem, but sometimes, the most glaring solution actually is the right one.

WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT QUICKLY

Don’t become discouraged, and don’t edit even one sentence until it is finished. Just write it out. Let your story take whatever form it can from all the material you have gathered previously about it. Then, when you revise it, you can truly make your story better than what you originally envisioned.

Here’s the other clincher tip: Writing a first draft can be a lot like running. When you run, the goal is to think of anything else but running. Let your mind think about the finish line, about the great distance you’ve covered, about the trees or scenery around you, about the story you were reading the previous night, about the comfort of your running shoes, etc. Many times, when you are actually doing the writing, it’s best to be thinking about anything but trying to force the words. You have to think about what’s next in the story, but then let your mind think about the great number of pages you’ve written, the way the ink rolls onto the page or the way the cursor flashes (I write most of my first drafts with pen and paper), about the sounds you can here in the background, etc. Just make certain that all along, more words of your story are being written.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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