13 Ways to Get OUT of Your Writerly Funk

FUNKSometimes we have a retreat, and we want to write ALLLLLLL the words ALLLLL day, but we get there, and… our brains don’t cooperate.

Sometimes we’re trying to finish a project over several months time, and it’s just not…happening.

 

Here are few tips to help you reset and start writing again:

1. Take a break. I know there are a TON of writers who say you have to write every day. You do not have to write every day. And most importantly, you need to not feel guilty about taking breaks. (If you’re at a retreat, don’t be afraid to step away from the computer for a while).

2. Remember that publishing is not personal. Sometimes passes (the nice way to say rejections) can get you down, but you HAVE to keep in mind that it’s the RIGHT project, in front of the RIGHT person, at the RIGHT time. That’s a lot of things that have to fall into place for a YES. Move forward. Prove them wrong.

3. Sometimes we have this precious chunk of time – a couple hours with a babysitter, or away from work, or at a writing retreat, and the words just aren’t coming. Remember there are a TON of non-writing things you can do to move your MS forward. Character sketches, character and setting pictures, storyboards, use a pacing or plotting tool to set up where your story is going next… Just because you’re not putting WORDS into your story, doesn’t mean you’re not putting WORK into your story.

4. Pick ONE thing you know is coming up in your story, and write that – even if it doesn’t come next, which brings me to…

5. Don’t be afraid to write out of order. Now, if you write the ending early on, chances are you’ll have to redo it when you get there, but it gives you SOMETHING to write. Sometimes writing ANYTHING will lubricate that sticky brain.

6. THEATER EXERCISES! Look up breathing, and characterization exercises. Getting into your character’s head can be a brilliant way to unlock those words, which leads me to…

7. Write something unrelated from your MC’s point of view. Maybe an essay on their thoughts after the end of the novel. Maybe an essay or their thoughts on one of the things you’ve put in your story to torture them.

8. Ask yourself, Did I make this big enough? The plot, the plot points, my main character – will be people be rooting for this to work out? Is there something else I can do?

9. Set the mood: Gum, snacks, drinks, music, smells… Maybe go a step further and pick stuff your MC would like.

10. Prep before your writing time. Try to think ahead…

11. Set a timer – YOU HAVE TO WRITE ANYTHING FOR XX MINUTES, and then you can break.

12. MOVE YOUR BODY. I promise that moving your body, lubricates your mind. Yoga, walking, stretching, running, swimming, biking… Bonus if it’s something your MC would like too 😉

13. DON’T PANIC. Finding yourself in a funk happens to everyone 🙂

HAPPY WRITING!!

~ Jolene

17361785_1313033622107898_5983686946276267719_nJolene Perry writes YA fiction for AW Teen and Simon Pulse. She writes about writing on BEEN WRITING? And you can stalk her on her website HERE. She’s also the vice-chair for the LDStorymakers Conference. YOU SHOULD COME…. Join the Tribe…

 

 

5 Tips for Writing Tough Topics

Many books deal with some pretty heavy topics. Some handle it very well, while others might not. When I say heavy topics, I’m referring to the most awful parts of life: death, abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, verbal), suicide, addiction, eating disorders, etc.

What separates those who write tough topics well from those who don’t?

There are a few things to you’ll want to for sure do before you dive in to writing a difficult subject. This will be a major factor in your story and characters being authentic and relatable or not.

1. Lean on your own unique experiences. 

What in your life have you been through that will help you effectively write the emotions, thoughts, and actions that accompany life’s dark moments? Use these personal insights to fuel your character’s responses. The key is to feel and remember what it was like to go through it at the time.

2. If you haven’t experienced it personally, do your research. 

Read books on the same subject. Look up symptoms of grieving, or effects of abuse. There are plenty of resources online, in books, movies, or even people who can offer insights to make your writing authentic. 

3. Ask someone who has been there. 

If you know someone who has experienced what you’re writing about, or even something similar, have them offer insights or read what you’ve written (make sure you’re not going to cause them to trigger first!). Be gentle with this. Others’ perspectives can be invaluable, especially since each of us can react uniquely to the same circumstance.

4. Use empathy. 

Most of have at least some ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Imagining how you’d react to certain circumstances may help. For some situations, you may grasp only part of what it feels like and will still need to seek more authentic help. Exercising your empathy muscle will allow you to be a more compassionate and sensitive writer with your characters, but also with people in general. 

5. Ask a professional. 

Another great resource is therapists or doctors who have helped people through these difficult situations. They can offer invaluable insights to make your character’s emotions, responses, and thoughts ring true to readers. They can also inform you about typical treatment options, time it takes to heal, etc.
If you choose to deal with more difficult topics, don’t glaze over it. If it’s important enough to be in your plot, it is vital to give it the time and attention it requires. Be careful not to use a tough situation as a plot device. If that’s all you need it for, find a different reason.

When you’re writing something more like a memoir or a personal essay, be open and real about it as much as possible. If you need to add or remove stuff later, you always can. The best way to connect with readers is to allow yourself to be vulnerable.

One more thing . . . 

When writing about these difficult subjects, add in a healing aspect. Healing should be part of your character arc. Just like real life, your character will go through the difficult thing, but will find ways to heal and overcome, whether professionally or by other means. This is one of my favorite parts of a book. It gives the reader hope, especially if they happen to be going through something similar. It may be just the thing to help someone through a dark time in their life. That’s why it’s so vital that you not only keep it authentic, real, emotional, and open, but that you don’t glaze over it as if your character has a super power for getting over stuff with the wave of a magic wand. Healing takes time—likely more time than your plot will cover.

Keep it real. Handle with care. Don’t be afraid to be raw, emotional, and vulnerable. We need your unique way of telling these stories to help us get through the heart wrenching parts of life.

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Wendy Jessen is the author of more than 300 articles—book reviews as well as family-oriented articles on familyshare.com . She somehow manages to do that with 6 spirited children ranging in age from 4 to 13 under toe. In the throes of writing her first book, she finds ways to procrastinate which usually involves scrolling through social media. Wendy often stays up way past her bedtime reading YA or other fiction. She loves kid-free date night with her husband, family vacations, and kids’ bedtime, aka, the human version of whack-a-mole.

So, you want to write articles

I’m not sure I am adequate to tell anyone how to write an article, but I’ll take a stab at it anyway. Writing articles is for every writer. Even if you’re an established author, writing articles is a good way to supplement your income in between royalty checks. As fulfilling as writing may be, we still have to pay the bills (right?!).

When I started out writing articles nearly three years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. Really. But, I started to improve by reading other people’s work, studying the proper formats, compiling more ideas to write about, and, of course, practicing, revising, and practicing some more.

My high school government teacher had an acronym he made up that I still remember and use in my writing : UBTIC WEAE SYT. It’s weird and it doesn’t really mean anything until you know the words:

Use Buzz Terms In Context With Evidence And Examples Supporting Your Thesis.

Knowing this formula seems to make it all easier. This can be applied to more than just articles, but for this post, we’ll look at how to put this acronym to work for short-article writing.

1. Come up with a thesis. 

Find something you already know about or something you would like to know more about. This will be your main topic of discussion. For instance, “Writers are the coolest people ever.” (This example is lame and awesome at the same time, right?) Start thinking about possible reasons this is true and research supporting information.

2. Find your key discussion points. 

Why are writers the coolest people ever? These points will be proving your thesis true. We need 2-5 points (or more depending on the audience) with evidence and examples that support your idea. Some of the many (we can be biased in our hypothetical example, right?) reasons we could explore are:

  1. Writers create worlds in their minds and bring them to life in books. 
  2. Writers create life through their characters. 
  3. Using words that inspire empathy, writers build bridges between different races, religions, and genders. 
  4. Writers are healers who whisper peace to aching souls and mend broken hearts. 

Then, you’ll need to find the buzz terms, evidence, and examples to support these points.

3. Buzz terms. 

“Buzz terms” is another way of saying vocabulary words. In a non-school setting, these will be important key words that apply to your subject matter. For the cool writers thesis, this may include something like books, plot, characters, best-seller, writing retreats, writer’s conference, reviews, pens/pencils, paper, laptop, or names of popular writer software. Some terms may need to be defined or further explained depending on the subject.

4. Supporting evidence and examples. 

For this, you’ll want to find historical or scientific evidence to support your points. Find books, quotes, articles, or scholarly journals with this evidence and include it in your article with the proper citation. Examples are similarly found, but can also include specific instances or stories that go along with what you are saying. For instance, you may find stories about famous cool authors or instances of books changing lives in the coolest ways. Quotes from authors or examples of authors’ work would be great sources for our hypothetical article. This one would fit: “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” –Anais Nin

The other part of writing articles is getting published. I’m not an expert on knowing reputable platforms for articles, but I recommend looking into online magazines, journals, newspapers, or other similar formats that fit your targeted audience/what you want to write about. If you write on motherhood and children, find a family-oriented site. If you love investigative reporting, you’ll want to seek out a newspaper. Look into the sites that you find yourself reading articles from over and over and see if you could be a match to work with them.
___________________________


Wendy Jessen is the author of more than 300 articles—book reviews as well as family-oriented articles on familyshare.com . She somehow manages to do that with 6 spirited children ranging in age from 4 to 13 under toe. In the throes of writing her first book, she finds ways to procrastinate which usually involves scrolling through social media. Wendy often stays up way past her bedtime reading YA or other fiction. She loves kid-free date night with her husband, family vacations, and kids’ bedtime, aka, the human version of whack-a-mole.