17 July 2015: A word of advice from Ole’ Jennifer (or how to avoid writer’s block)

Because someone asked for advice on Goodreads, and my offered two cents was appreciated, I thought I’d share the question and my answer with you. It’s from a Goodreads.com author forum.

Here’s the original Post:

Good morning! I am a first time author. I would like to know what did you do to overcome writers block? What type of scenes heightened your imagination? Is there a certain ritual that takes place in order for writing to flow? Does a scent help writing flows? I am very curious about the styles of creative minds. The book I am currently writing is called (Title omitted for author’s privacy).  My mind peels off leaving my head filled with smoke sometimes. I am left with a powerful general idea that I cannot put into sentences. Is there a method used to help you in these types of situations?

Here is my reply:

I’ve written six full length novels and have never had writers block. To start with, I always have a detailed outline of my book when I start. That’s not to say I don’t stray from it when the juices are flowing, but when I get off track, I always have a guide to pull me back to the main story I’m trying to tell. Another thing is, don’t expect your rough draft to be anything other than a starting point. Expect it to be crap, a lump of wood that you will chisel down into your masterpiece. Putting pressure on yourself to write a masterpiece in your first draft will kill you. Just write. I think in one of my books, I was really stuck on what to call a certain character. I think I was almost done writing the first draft and he was still called “Mr. X”. Had I stopped to come up with the perfect name for him, I’d have gotten writer’s block. Just remember, it’s a lot easier to rewrite and edit crap into gold than it is to write gold right out of the gate, especially in your first three or four books.

Here’s the question asker’s reply:

Thank you so much. That was the answer I needed because I was writing as if it had to be perfect. Completely forgetting these are the steps before gold.

Anyway, I thought that was nice and wanted to share.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, Author of The Purity of Blood novels and If Love is a Lie: Finding and Losing Love Online.

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