I’m dipping my toe into the writing pool.
Just a little.Read More
I’m dipping my toe into the writing pool.
Just a little.Read More
Got to a part in your book where you don’t know what happens next?
Know what happens next but don’t know how to write it?
Know how to write what happens but your characters won’t talk to you to back up your scene with dialogue?
Brain melting out your earholes?
Pulling hair off your head?
If you think you’ve tried every trick in the book to get over it, I’m telling you now there is one method you haven’t tried that will work 99% of the time. It’s really bloody easy too. I almost don’t want to tell you because it feels like my own little secret. Like my own red button for launching nukes which I sit stroking whilst laughing manically at the fact that nobody knows how much power I have. What? It’s a perfectly normal analogy…
Wanna know what to do if you get stuck with your story?
Put it to one side.
Go and read.
I don’t care what you read so long as it’s something you love. A book that draws you in. A book you don’t want to put down. If you can’t find a new book that makes you feel that way then go back to an old one that you’ve read before and start over. Forget about your manuscript.
Neglect your characters. Ignore your world and go visit someplace else instead.
Now here’s the tricky part.
When you get sucked into a book, when you’re at that point where you just have to read another page…
Put the book down.
Go and write.
Now I’m not saying it will lead you to finish the rest of your story in one sitting. But I promise that this is more likely than any other method to help you get out of the slump. You may only write 100 words, but that’s 100 more than you had before isn’t it?
Sometimes we get lost within our creations, and our imagination gets overwhelmed with the scale of the task. We all need to escape from time to time, so give it a try.
E.C. Jarvis is a British author working mainly in speculative and fantasy fiction genres.
Since 2015, she has independently published six books spanning two different genres and series. The Machine, The Pirate, The War, and The Destiny in The Blood and Destiny series - a steampunk adventure. Desire and Duty, and Lust and Lies in The Consort's Chronicles series - an erotic fantasy.
If you like action packed, fast-paced page turners, then try one of her books. There's never a dull moment in those pages.
She was born in Surrey, England in 1982. She now resides in Hampshire, England with her daughter and husband.
Sounds fake doesn’t it? The fear of success. Who in their right mind would fear such a thing? Well therein lies the issue, it’s an irrational fear and by definition, if you have it, you aren’t in your “right mind”. It’s a new one I’ve discovered that I have. I’m close, so burningly, ball-achingly close to finishing the steampunk series. There is but a heartbeat, a few pages, some mere explosive splurges of imagination onto the page remaining before I can call this series complete. And yet these last few chapters have taken longer and longer to pen. It’s not that I don’t know what to write – I’ve had the ending plotted out for some time now. It isn’t that I don’t have the motivation to write. It is that I have a fear of finishing.
To a writer, their books are like children. We give birth, nurture them to maturity, provide them with everything they require to gain life and then at some point we let them go out into the world. Just like a parent does with their grown children, we can check in on them periodically, see how they are doing, maybe give them a boost (think marketing) to help them out once in a while, but really, they are beyond our reach. We have done all we can, and can only hope that they don’t fall over so far that they never get up again. Is this the reason I’m struggling to write these last few pages? Probably.
There are other factors to consider. What do I do once I’m finished? Well, I have my other series of course, and I intend to write many more things, but there is no doubt that this epic monstrosity of a world that I’ve created will leave a gaping hole in my life when I have no reason to go back and visit it any more.
I don’t want to let go.
I don’t want to finish the series. I’m afraid of losing it.
Just like a reader who falls in love with the characters in a book – so to have I fallen in love with these products of my imagination. I don’t want to say goodbye to Larissa and Holt. I think I might cry when I write the last few paragraphs containing Cid. I can’t let go, and some part of me is fighting back, drawing out the process. I’m like a mother standing at the school gate for hours after my kid has gone inside. It hurts to say goodbye.
So to any fellow writers who have found themselves in the same position, please let me know how you cope with such a loss when your books are done? Because right now, I need some reassurance that I’m not going to end up curled in a ball screaming “I CAN WRITE BOOK FIVE”…
I really need to finish this series, and quick!
Life can get a bit hectic at times, with a full-time job, a family, a house, bills, garden, renovation, kids activities and a second career. If you take a step back and look at all the things you manage to do in a day, week, month and year, you might find yourself a little shocked. I know I do. It might seem mad then to actively work on multiple writing projects at the same time.
I currently have three manuscripts in the works - two full novels and a short story that may well stretch to ‘novella’ status by the end of it. Add to that the blog posts, both my own and the guest posts I seem to frequently commit myself to, plus all the marketing and businessy side of being a writer (you know, that boring bit that no-one likes to talk about) and it’s a wonder that my brain isn’t melting out my ears on a daily basis.
If you’re the sort of person who can only focus on one writing project at a time, then this probably doesn’t apply. If you’re like me, with a gazillion different things flying around your head that just keep demanding to have your attention and if you don’t concede to those demands then you wind up miserable and unable to produce anything then these tips might apply.
Set a limit
As I said, I have three things that I consider to be active projects. There are about ten other things that I have buried at the back of my head somewhere that can come to life when one of the three is complete, but I’ve been working with three things on the go for a while now and it works. Start with two and then work your way up to a number that you feel comfortable with, but make sure you limit that number or you become at risk of being a starter but never a finisher.
Don’t fight it
Seriously. If one day you want to work on project A but the characters from project B start chattering away, then listen to them and work on that one. This can get a little tricky if you have committed to writing a piece to a deadline – in that case I can recommend that you always work ahead of the deadline. Say you need to hand in something by 1st June… aim to get it completed by 1st May, just convince yourself mentally that the deadline is a lot sooner and that will allow for the days when your brain won’t comply to your plan.
Switch it up
The best thing about having lots of projects on the go is that there is no excuse for writers block. If you get stuck on one then simply shift your focus to another. This allows for constant productivity and almost eliminates the days sitting around mourning the fact that you can’t write.
Have a good filing system on your pc so you can find whichever document you need within two clicks from the desktop. Wipe out the frustration stage of not knowing where that piece you started three weeks ago was saved.
Above all, make sure you write every day. A hundred words or so is better than no words. A thousand words is better still, regardless of which novel you add to.
I've been lazy and not updated this blog for a while.
I'm not going to apologise, sometimes life just gets in the way and that's ok.
Instead I'll share a guest post I wrote recently for Our Write Side
It's a little guide for anyone who has trouble writing those naughty scenes that sometimes creep into their books. Check it out Things to avoid when writing Erotica/Love Scenes
“I’ll write a book.”
You know, it sounds nice doesn’t it? Like something one does to pass the time. A hobby. A pleasure. Maybe for some people it may be just that. As easy as a walk in the park on a warm spring day. No stress, no pressure.
Only it isn’t that. Far from it. Most writers write because they are compelled to do so. Like some junkie drug addict, the need to write something is constantly pecking away at you until you obey.
Writing an entire novel is not a walk in the park. You can chug out page after page, chapter after chapter, but only if you have good discipline.
It is all too easy to make excuses not to write.
“I’m not inspired today,” we tell ourselves.
“I have writers block.”
“The dog ate my manuscript.”
That’s fine if you want to do that to yourself. Go ahead. Keep making those excuses. It won’t get the novel written though, so don’t come complaining to me when you’re three months down the line and no further towards your dream.
How do I do it? I push through those days when I don’t feel like writing. I might only knock out a few hundred words or so, but I write something. Every.Single.Day
It takes discipline, hard work and determination. The self-doubt is always there. The bad days will come and go. The only way to get past them is to write on regardless.
If you truly have a passion for writing then you can do this. If I can do this, (and I’m a generally lazy person) then anyone can.
The next time you find your hand wandering towards your phone or tv remote instead of typing words on your book, then stop. You can play on the internet after writing 500 words. You can carry on the lengthy text conversation with your friends after writing 200 words. You can binge watch The Walking Dead after writing another 2000 words. AFTER. Not before, not during.
Any excuse you may give is petty and pathetic. Do you want to write a book? Then stop giving in to temptation and go write it, because no-one else will do it for you.
“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are incapable of forming such opinions." – Albert Einstein
This week I have faced a new challenge in the world of an author. Opinions.
It has been said that opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and all of them stink. Just so you know, I can see the irony in writing a blog on opinions – blogs in themselves are generally the opinion of the writer. I get it. But indulge me if you will as I have reached an important conclusion that matters to anyone who is just getting started in the literary world.
On Sunday I got a disappointing review. I felt a bit down about it (as I am allowed to do). On Monday I was subjected to a spot of bullying. On Tuesday a lovely lady told me I have a unique voice, and a fearless writing style. Less than six hours later I was told the technical aspects of my writing suck and I should take a creative writing course. Across all of those days I had a large group of people who were immensely kind and made me smile through it all.
A writer cannot win.
This sort of thing doesn’t seem to improve as you gain notoriety either. Look at JK Rowling who recently earned the ire of the Native Americans who didn’t like the way they were included in her book (this is the same group of people who frequently complain about never being included in anything).
When you open your work and yourself up to public scrutiny, then you are actively inviting in everyone, including the batshit crazy people who get off on trolling and launching personal attacks. There is no comeback for them, they have no notoriety, they can sit behind a computer screen laughing manically while they pick their noses and scratch the fleas in their groin and it won’t affect their sales or future because they don’t have one.
The author, on the other hand, is expected to take such things with a smile. Like water off a ducks back. Never mind that you spent years working hard on your book and invested your own money into putting out the best possible product that you can. Those things don’t matter to anyone but you. Who cares that your work is like your own child, and when you see someone say nasty things about it, it hurts and you feel like rushing to defend it? No, you’re not allowed to do that.
I’m new to this whole literary world, and I’m learning as I go. I am making mistakes left and right – but guess what? I have a right to do that. I have a right to fuck up, and then learn from it and correct my behaviour in future. That is the mark of an adult. People who go out of their way to attack me and be mean and a bully - that is the mark of a child.
Being a writer is a constant learning process. You never quite reach mastery, someone will always be on hand to point out a flaw, a minor imperfection in your work or your approach to marketing it. I am a far better writer than I was ten years ago, and a far worse writer than I will be in ten years’ time. I am the best writer I can possibly be at this point in time and to all those who think that isn’t good enough – ok, point taken, stick with me and I’ll get there.
I have been lucky enough to have a bunch of really good reviews on my books, and only one or two bad ones. Guess which ones have taken up most of my time and energy? It sucks, but I’m learning to let it go. I will always be happy to take objective criticism from someone who wants to help me learn and grow, but I think I’ll always struggle to accept the real nasties who get a kick out of leaving bad reviews for the fun of it.
For now, I have shed my delicate outer layer that ripped and tore to shreds at the beginning of the week and exposed the thick leather skin beneath. I won’t say its unbreakable, for surely if you were to stab at it repeatedly with a knife, it would suffer somewhat, but really for a person to go at someone with that level of intensity is much more a reflection on them than it is damaging to me.
Everyone is of course entitled to an opinion. Please remember, that I am also entitled to ignore those opinions, or even to tell the opinionated to stick it right back up the stink pipe from whence it came.
Beware new authors, it’s a nasty world out there full of vindictive jealous people who want to hurt you for no good reason at all. Thankfully, there are a far larger number of decent, kind people who will fight on your side and happily hold your hand through the dark days. Focus your energy on those people and you can’t go far wrong.
And to think, all this comes from writing a book.
When I began writing my erotic romance book, I started it for no reason other than I had this story in my head that wouldn’t go away. I viewed it simply as an exercise in writing with no intention of writing a whole book, let alone a series, and certainly wasn’t considering publishing. Well here we are several months later, the first book is out, the second is half way done and the series will be a trilogy – this damn story just will not go away.
What I have learnt since embarking on the next phase after the first draft was completed – you know the phase no-one tells you about, the networking, the marketing, et cetera – is that erotica is generally looked down upon by the literary elite. I tell my authorly friends that I’m publishing an erotic romance and watch their noses screw up in disgust. I know why. There are lot of badly written books in the world, especially when it comes to erotic works. It is very easy to write a bad erotic book with one dimensional characters (and that’s being generous) and a non-existent plot. Add to the fact that erotic books – in spite of having a humongous audience – are still seen as a guilty pleasure, a naughty taboo, something people just don’t admit to reading. Most writers who do publish erotica do so under a pseudonym. So for me to stand up and proudly announce that I’ve written one and stuck my name on it in big letters, people look at me like I’m mad.
But guess what folks? I’m not. I approached this book as with any other. I began first and foremost with the characters. I’ve said before that the thing readers connect with in a book is the characters. Not the plot, not the worldbuilding, not the situations – the characters. I didn’t even start to think about sex (even though there is a sex scene right at the beginning of the story), until I knew a lot about who my starring people were. Then followed the plot, which is born from the characters and their needs and desires, then the worldbuilding and so on. The sexy parts of the story are entirely relevant to the plot. This – I hope – is what takes my work, and any other good erotic story, and sets it apart from the plethora of ‘bad’ erotica out there.
Additionally, my approach to the actual naughty bits was considered. I avoided the overly graphic descriptions, any that you might spot are sparsely scattered and carefully placed. You can write erotica without being vulgar. Neither do I sugar coat it, I call a spade a spade, nobody gets ‘deflowered’ the sexy parts are sexy.
Am I still glad to have stuck my name on it? Absolutely. I stand by the work. I’m not ashamed of it in any way shape or form and if you think I should be then you are the one with the problem, not me.
Here’s to good erotic literature. It is looked down upon, sneered at and thought of as the underdog genre. Pushed to the darkest corner of bookshops (if at all) and condemned as poor writing for horny housewives by literary snobs who secretly like a good hard hump just as much as anyone else. Don’t discount erotic work without first reading one of high-calibre, and if you don’t know where to start, I can make a good recommendation ;)
Check out the look inside feature and see if you get hooked…
Do you, author, take this concept – writing – to be your future career? I now pronounce you doomed to spend every waking moment dreaming about writing, wishing you could write and complaining on social media about being unable to write.
There is a huge difference between writing as a hobby, being a ‘casual’ published writer and being a full-time professional writer.
I have yet to reach the last of those positions but I have gained a large number of friends who fall into each of those categories and from speaking with them and doing a bunch of research I have narrowed down a couple of things that can help to move a person from hobbyist to professional. So here we go:
Writing is a commitment
The degrees to which one needs to commit vary, but, as with almost any other trade, you won’t see results without putting in the effort. You cannot hope to have success on the back of just one book. It may work for a select few, but for the rest of us being prolific is the best chance for making a success. You wrote one book? Great, now write two more, and so on. You don’t get to rest up after the first small success, you have to push and push. All day, at every free moment. When you’re not writing, you should be researching – building marketing techniques – networking – looking up publishers… e.t.c. Sound like hard work? Guess what sweet cheeks, it is. Look at the successful writers in the world, did Stephen King stop after the first success, or did he keep writing and releasing books? JK Rowling was working on the Harry Potter series for a good chunk of her adult life – and still is. You don’t get to kick back and wait for the royalty monies to roll in or you will fade into obscurity. Writing is a lifestyle choice, not an easy route to financial security. You can only get so far on half-assed effort. Success comes when you fully commit and never back down and even then there is no guarantee. You have to first write for a love of writing.
Product quality is key
I can categorically tell you that writing is not a ‘get rich quick’ profession. You can’t simply spew verbal slurry onto a page and then doodle a book cover and hit publish – well technically you could do this, but you won’t make any money from it. You are competing with millions of other books in existence. In order to stand out in the crowd you need to have a polished product. This involves investment in both time and money. A book must be well edited. A cover must be eye-catching and appealing. The blurb must be enticing. People will make a snap decision about whether or not to purchase your book based on these key things so if your book is lacking you will not make a sale. If you’re not self-publishing and are going for a contract with a publisher then these elements are still important (save for the cover). If you can’t afford to splash out on editing or cover art then you can still publish regardless but be prepared for poor reviews and low sales.
I still hold onto the dream that one day I might sell enough books to quit my job and write full time, but I have already committed my mind to the task. There’s nothing wrong with writing as a hobby, but when you chose to take it to another level it’s an eye-opening experience.
First blog of 2016 and I’m rolling out the big guns. This “issue” has affected virtually every writer who has ever existed at some point in their writing experience. It’s upsetting, distressing and can leave you in a rut for months if not years.
Do I have a solution?
Not directly, BUT, I would like to offer a different perspective. Thinking about it a different way has helped me to get through these moments a lot quicker.
The majority of time wasted in writing involves us making a decision. I came to a full stop the other day when I had to name a new character. I wasted over an hour trawling through my facebook friends names and baby names and name generator sites until I got the answer. That’s a whole bunch of time wasted on one small issue. It would have been easier to stick a placeholder in and keep on writing.
Bigger decisions need a different approach. Consider you have put character X and Z into situation A and we want to move them to situation B. A and B might be a universe apart physically and/or conceptually, so the journey between the two needs to be seamless. The trouble comes when we don’t know how it happens. So we sit and stare at the screen and then go waste time on social media whining about writers block. None of which is going to help you fix the problem.
If you’re a plotter, the answer is easy, just keep writing down options and ideas until you find the one that fits best and then go write it.
For me, the only way I get out of this is by forcing myself to write. I’m not much of a plotter. I’ll make vague notes about certain key points that I want to hit over the course of a book, but the rest is pure flow. The solution is virtually the same, stop worrying about the how and just start writing. If the first thing you try doesn’t work then don’t be afraid to delete and start over. Frustrating as it may be, it’s part of the process, a necessary evil.
Once you know WHAT you’re writing, the block will pass.