Combat Your Writer’s Block – 10 Tips

I’m thrilled to welcome Soul Mate author Kim Hotzon to the Power of 10 series. Today, Kim shares her best tips for combating writer’s block and her latest novel, Hands Full of Ashes.

Here’s Kim!

writersblockhotzonAll writers, from time to time, experience the dreaded block. I’m not referring to the chopping block (though it may as well be) but rather ‘writer’s block’. This is a condition otherwise known as a withering, about-to-be dried up landscape once it descends upon a writer’s corpus callosum, kind of like a dust cloud. Writer’s block is a loathsome annoyance, and there are plenty of images of the greats (think Hemingway) who’ve demonstrated various coping skills by swigging unlimited bottles of wine or whiskey to dredge up something from the recesses of their dusty skulls.

If you find yourself suffering from this malady, don’t stomp on your keyboard just yet. I’ve devised a list that may assist you (and myself for that matter) in keeping that pesky condition at bay.

Switch your routine

People who write tend to be creatures of habit. A certain time of day may normally fuel your productivity but let’s face it, we all need a change once in a while. Leave your table, couch or desk behind. Find a nice park bench or cubicle at the library. Do you find that sentences and paragraphs come flying at you just as your head hits the pillow? Maybe your most creative sparks fly at night when you’ve been writing during the day. Switch your schedule as much as possible and net those wandering thoughts when they appear.

Engage with people

Books come alive with characters. If you’re having difficulty with dialogue, or with the advancement of your characters’ relationships, spend time interacting with people. Writing can be a solitary pursuit but sometimes you’ll need to do a bit of research before your writing can continue. Because characters are often inspired by someone you know, engage him/her in conversation and learn more about his/her personality traits. Details go a long way in making characters three-dimensional and believable to your story.

Imbibe in one of your vices (within reason)

wineroseMaybe you’re developing a hum-drum mood, or stuck in stagnation. Loosen up. It’s okay to have a glass of wine (just not a keg, mind you) to ease your mental straitjacket. Go buy a decadent dessert. Do something to reward yourself. You should avoid criticizing yourself and your work. All work and no play is never a good idea. Just don’t get lost in your playground every day.

Read in the genre you’re writing in

If you’re plowing through a science fiction novel while trying to write historical romance, your linguistic word building may lead you in the wrong direction. Read what you’re currently writing to get a sense of vocabulary and setting details. If you find you keep reading certain genres and the one you’re writing never evolves, you might want to re-consider switching to a new genre. Your story, if you’re passionate about it, will not leave your head. If it does, you may not love it as much as you want to.

Recall your past angst

Delivering powerful, emotional scenes requires the ability to convey emotions into words. That’s where your own recollections of exciting or traumatic events will help. Tap into a time that made you feel fear, anger or joy. What caused those feelings? Who was involved? Taking a trip down memory lane may ignite a chain reaction of memories that could serve you well in constructing that next chapter.

memorylane

Plot your story

Okay, you’ve got a rough storyline idea with characters meshed out. You’re 20,000 words into your manuscript and then . . . the cobwebs resume clogging your skull. This can be frustrating and cause you to toss your work into the trash pile or at the back of a drawer. This stage of writer’s block can be overwhelming. Take a step back and plot your storyline out on a piece of paper. You had a great idea to start with and your idea is still a good thing. Sometimes a visual marker or graph can help you strategize and construct further plot points. Think of this approach as being similar to following a recipe. Once you see how far you’ve moved along in your manuscript you may feel your motivation resume. Or, as an old familiar saying instructs us, “it’s easier to see where you’re going if you’re eyes are open”.

Keep notes handy

A while ago I finished a time travel manuscript. Moving between time periods and getting different historical facts correct was dizzying. I found keeping a notebook handy for all my spontaneous reminders and fact building came in handy. Sometimes I need a reminder when to include a landmark detail or when my character is going to say something specific to move the story along. With so much information swirling in an author’s mind small details can quickly be forgotten. Write stuff down as you think of it.

Apply humour

bellylaughHumor is one of the best strategies for coping with anything in life. Writing requires so much internal, right-brain thinking it can become exhausting. Humor, either for yourself, or introduced in your writing, can unleash a floodgate of ideas and a new perspective. A good belly laugh is always appreciated – by the writer and the reader.


Visit local writing groups/classes

Beyond engaging with a neighbor, store clerk or random person, spending time with people who ‘do exactly what you do’ is a proven winner. Who else knows better the issues you’re dealing with? Need motivation, inspiration or advice? Your fellow writers will provide a support system with tangible and constructive feedback. Can’t get to a local writer’s group? Join one online, there are several. Google your options and reach out to other writers.

Think of writing as a job and not a hobby

All people with jobs have tasks to perform and most have deadlines to meet. Writing is no different. Begin with a schedule and set a goal. Even if you only manage to carve out 250 words a day, you’ll have a thousand words completed in a few days. Keep an eye on your word count, but don’t become a slave to it. The purpose in moving forward and being productive is to form a writing habit that works for you. Don’t compare yourself to other writers who seem prolific with their daily word count. Seeing something on paper, or computer screen is far better than staring at a blank page. You may consider joining NaNoWriMo or engaging peer support. Instituting challenges will help you achieve your writing goals.

Writing is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. It is also one of the most difficult. Without a doubt, writing a novel requires talent, effort, and perseverance. The most successful writers are the ones who don’t give up. So assemble a notebook, your laptop, pick a time of day, a location, and begin plotting out your next chapter.

handsfullofashes

Blurb

Olivia promises to fulfill her dying husband’s wish – to scatter his ashes around the world. Wading through grief and depression, she journeys to a remote orphanage in Uganda. Living amongst the children in their threadbare surroundings, she vows to fight for the children’s lives as she begins to fight for her own. While Olivia develops a passion for humanitarian work, the lonely director of the orphanage develops a simmering passion for her.

Just as time begins to heal the wounds of her heart, Olivia learns the truth of her husband’s unimaginable betrayal. She flees to the tiny country of Rwanda where her soul is reawakened with a startling new love. Olivia realizes that love always comes with a price when she is faced with a decision she thought she would never have to make.
Surrounded by the rugged beauty of Africa, Olivia is determined to find true love while learning how to survive in a region left torn apart by civil war.

buynow

Bio

kimhotzonBorn in beautiful British Columbia, Kim developed a passion for writing at an early age. Her interest in people led her all over the globe, including a two year stay in Japan and a humanitarian trip to Rwanda.

She loves to write romance stories with a twist, usually involving a dangerous and dramatic backdrop. Her first novel, Hands Full of Ashes, was inspired by her trip to Africa.

Kim spent many years teaching young adults with learning disabilities at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and she currently resides in the sunny Okanagan with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found plying the local ski hills, or getting lost in her kayak in the surrounding lakes.

Where to find Kim…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | LinkedIn


My 10 Favorite Writing Websites

I’m thrilled to welcome Soul Mate author Kim Hotzon to the Power of 10 series. Today, Kim shares her favorite writing websites and her novel, Hands Full of Ashes.

Here’s Kim!

computerusehotzonI love lists. They’re handy, neat and informative. So, I’m thrilled to be joining author Joanne Guidoccio on her blog ‘The Power of Ten’.

Many ideas floated round my head, and I wondered, What could I contribute that would offer fresh content and interest readers? In the end, I thought I’d share my ten favorite websites that I’ve used in my writing career. Some of these sites cater to blogging, others to grammar and writing resources while some offer insight into marketing and publishing.

*Disclosure: I do not have any affiliation with these sites and I’m not being paid to promote individual sites. This list is merely a compilation of sites I’ve personally found useful.

1. http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

Site name: Quick and dirty tips. Aka Grammar girl.

What it includes: This is a wonderful site created by Mignon Fogarty, a woman whose roles have included senior editor, magazine writer and technical writer, among others.

Why I love it: Her blog posts offer comprehensive grammar rules, memory tricks to recall those rules, and word choice guidelines. I love the questions posted by fellow writers as well.

2. http://www.rachellegardner.com/how-to-write-a-book-proposal/

Site name: Rachelle Gardner.

What it includes: Like many professionals in the writing/publishing industry, Rachelle has worn many hats, including agent, writing/publishing coach, speaker and book editor. She pens blogs about writing and publishing.

Why I love it: Rachelle offers several succinct, helpful blogs covering everything from crafting compelling book titles to writing a good query letter.

3. http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/new-agency-alerts

Site Name: Writer’s Digest.

What it includes: Several online editors contribute blogs and poetry on this site. Brian A. Klems writes a blog titled The Writer’s Dig. He covers all areas of writing, editing and publishing on his site. Chuck Sambuchino offers regular lists of agents seeking submissions. He also shares dates for writing conferences and lists upcoming writing competitions.

Why I love it: Besides the agent lists, another great thing about this site are the free downloads which include helpful articles on how to promote your work and protect it. Another great feature? The weekly writing prompts that can help jumpstart your creative juices if you find yourself in a writing rut.

4. http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/01/07/how-to-create-a-book-trailer/

Site name: The Creative Penn

What it includes: A site of resources for writers including book writing, publishing and marketing, by bestselling author Joanna Penn.

Why I love it: Though the site is filled with prompts to buy her books (she needs to make a living too!) there is a ton of free stuff that is relevant and current. I used one of Joanna Penn’s blogs on book trailers as a tool to create my own book trailer.

5. http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/

Site name: The free dictionary.

What it includes: A free dictionary and thesaurus online.

Why I love it: In addition to the online dictionary, there is also a feature for idioms and acronyms, though the thesaurus remains my favorite feature.

6. http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/category/blog/

Site name: Your Writer Platform

What it includes: Video podcasts and blog posts that offer information on book marketing! Know your target audience, create a marketing plan and have a successful book launch. The site’s owner, Kimberly Grabas offers detailed video podcasts about how to do this and what to avoid.

Why I love it: It’s nice to have a site that offers clear help on marketing your book. There is a lot of information on this site and it may take a few minutes to scroll through and find what you need but it’s there. I particularly liked the blog post about how to organize social media tools and plug ins for my website.

7. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/about/

Site name: Daily Writing Tips

What it includes: Whether it’s tips you’re after for creative or business writing, this site has you covered. A comprehensive list of blog articles about writing and grammar by a team of writers and editors. As the site name indicates, this website is updated daily!

Why I love it: I like that it’s constantly updated with fresh content; also I found the manuscript formatting tips quite useful.

8. http://www.scribophile.com/blog/keeping-the-purple-out-of-your-prose/

Site name: Scribophile

What it includes: An online writing community you can sign up and join to get critiques and reviews of your writing.

Why I love it: The blog posts are informative. One of my favorites was ‘Keeping The Purple Out Of Your Prose’ – a call to arms for eliminating flowery language and tightening your writing.

9. https://janefriedman.com/novel-synopsis/

Site name: Jane Friedman

What it includes: Jane Friedman is a well-known international speaker with many years in the publishing industry. Her site offers interviews, and resources for writers.

Why I love it: Helpful articles covering every aspect of writing and publishing. Need to find an agent? What about constructing a query letter? Should you keep writing? All of these topics and more can be found on her site. Jane also has guest bloggers post on her site. Recently, I found an article discussing best practices for Facebook author pages to be timely.

10. http://absolutewrite.com/about/

Site name: Absolute Write

What it includes: An online forum where writers can ask and answer questions on every imaginable topic related to their writing journeys. Some discussions get testy, but the Absolute Write Water Cooler is an informational juggernaut of names, places, events and sites that either come highly recommended or not!

Why I love it: It is a cornucopia of writing and publishing news. I find it enlightening first of all, eyebrow raising second of all. I also like that I don’t have to register or sign up (unless I want to submit my own comment). There are plenty of conversational threads to scroll through on any topic I might have a question about. You’ll find warnings about publishers or do’s and don’ts for querying in addition to general advice from writers both published and unpublished.

I’d love to hear from other writers as to their favorite sites! Whether it’s online forums, resource or publishing sites, share what you use and what you know!

handsfullofashes

Blurb

Olivia promises to fulfill her dying husband’s wish – to scatter his ashes around the world. Wading through grief and depression, she journeys to a remote orphanage in Uganda. Living amongst the children in their threadbare surroundings, she vows to fight for the children’s lives as she begins to fight for her own. While Olivia develops a passion for humanitarian work, the lonely director of the orphanage develops a simmering passion for her.

Just as time begins to heal the wounds of her heart, Olivia learns the truth of her husband’s unimaginable betrayal. She flees to the tiny country of Rwanda where her soul is reawakened with a startling new love. Olivia realizes that love always comes with a price when she is faced with a decision she thought she would never have to make.
Surrounded by the rugged beauty of Africa, Olivia is determined to find true love while learning how to survive in a region left torn apart by civil war.

buynow

Bio

kimhotzonBorn in beautiful British Columbia, Kim developed a passion for writing at an early age. Her interest in people led her all over the globe, including a two year stay in Japan and a humanitarian trip to Rwanda.

She loves to write romance stories with a twist, usually involving a dangerous and dramatic backdrop. Her first novel, Hands Full of Ashes, was inspired by her trip to Africa.

Kim spent many years teaching young adults with learning disabilities at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and she currently resides in the sunny Okanagan with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found plying the local ski hills, or getting lost in her kayak in the surrounding lakes.

Where to find Kim…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | LinkedIn


On Tour + #Giveaway

11838450_sThe following Soul Mate authors are hosting me on their blogs…

Tina Susedik

Kim Hotzon

Rachel Sharpe

Drop by and visit for a while. Remember to scroll down and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Spotlight on Kim Hotzon

I am happy to feature Soul Mate author Kim Hotzon and her new release, Hands Full of Ashes. Prepare for an adventure-filled ride that spans three continents.

Here’s Kim!

kimhotzonTwenty five years ago, I boarded a plane (I do that a lot, it seems). My purpose for travelling to Japan was to teach English. I was quickly in over my head. The problem was that I did not have any money, nor did I have sponsorship, which would allow me to stay in the country. I bounced from one youth hostel to another and soon I became ill. After many hospital visits I was given varying diagnoses including (correctly) a kidney infection and severe stress, and (incorrectly) appendicitis and heart disease. After a visit with the Consulate General at the Canadian embassy and his personal physician, I eventually recovered. I found a job teaching English in Osaka and I remained in Japan for two years. Upon my return to Canada I began writing my memoir, When the Cherry Blossoms Fall: My Life as an English Teacher in Japan.

Fast forward two decades. I now had accomplished many things: a marriage, children and a thriving career at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. One morning, I opened up the local newspaper and read an article. A woman was looking for a group of volunteers to travel to Rwanda to work on a project assisting genocide survivors. I felt an instant connection, a need to go. I boarded a plane for Africa. My family were shocked and scared. I was excited and about to fulfill a life-long dream. Naturally, Africa changed my life. How could it not? I was inspired once again to write. This time, what developed was not a memoir, but a fictional love story. I called it Hands Full of Ashes.

I began the long road toward publication. My learning curve was rapid and very steep. I posted part of my work online and began to receive compliments and critiques. I was approached by a well-known Canadian author who also works as an editor on the side. She did the initial editing on the manuscript. I spent months researching agents and how to write a query letter. I enlisted beta-readers to provide feedback. I kept editing. Rewriting. Editing some more. I began to send out query letters. Many of them. I had several agents show interest, but they would not commit. Seems my story was hard to pin down into a specific genre. The prevailing response was, ‘Love your writing and your voice, but what genre is this?’

I was contacted by Deborah Gilbert, the editor of Soul Mate Publishing. She suggested a different ending. I was finally ready to consider making changes. I re-wrote the ending and in the same week I had two requests from two different publishers who were offering a contract. A third was interested and considering the manuscript. I nearly fell off my chair. I chose Soul Mate Publishing. Believe it or not, their tag line and website were part of the reason I made that decision. I was looking for professionalism and a good fit for the genre of my story. The other reason was purely based on an intuitive feeling.

Hands Full of Ashes is to be released on January 14, 2015. I am now working on my next novel, another love story, but this romance veers into historical and fantasy territory. Writing is definitely hard work. However, if it’s something that you feel called to do, you can’t imagine not doing it. My advice for new writers – do not give up. Ever.

handsfullofashes

Blurb

Olivia promises to fulfill her dying husband’s wish – to scatter his ashes around the world. Wading through grief and depression, she journeys to a remote orphanage in Uganda. Living amongst the children in their threadbare surroundings, she vows to fight for the children’s lives as she begins to fight for her own. While Olivia develops a passion for humanitarian work, the lonely director of the orphanage develops a simmering passion for her.

Just as time begins to heal the wounds of her heart, Olivia learns the truth of her husband’s unimaginable betrayal. She flees to the tiny country of Rwanda where her soul is reawakened with a startling new love. Olivia realizes that love always comes with a price when she is faced with a decision she thought she would never have to make.
Surrounded by the rugged beauty of Africa, Olivia is determined to find true love while learning how to survive in a region left torn apart by civil war.

buynow

Bio

Born in beautiful British Columbia, Kim developed a passion for writing at an early age. Her interest in people led her all over the globe, including a two year stay in Japan and a humanitarian trip to Rwanda.

She loves to write romance stories with a twist, usually involving a dangerous and dramatic backdrop. Her first novel, Hands Full of Ashes, was inspired by her trip to Africa.

Kim spent many years teaching young adults with learning disabilities at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and she currently resides in the sunny Okanagan with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found plying the local ski hills, or getting lost in her kayak in the surrounding lakes.

Where to find Kim…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | LinkedIn