Posted in Writer's problems

How to write when you have nothing to say?

I have already written a series of articles about writer’s block: root causes and solutions, why you should avoid freewriting, if writing a lot daily is sustainable and why you should work on more than one novel at once. Today, I will introduce to you another technique, which will help you write even in times when you have nothing to say.

In general: should you force yourself to write when you have nothing to say?

Obviously – no. We should try to avoid trading quality for quantity. When you feel you can’t write, the most logical step to take is to start refueling. Read two short books in one evening, if you have to. Browse the internet for articles. Research what you were interested in.

However – if you have a deadline that you must meet (like NaNoWriMo or publishing contract!), and/or refueling doesn’t work the way it should – don’t fall in despair. There is a way to write even though you feel you have nothing to say.

Because in fact, it’s just a feeling. There is always something to say.

How do I know it? Because even though you can’t write, you probably still talk to other people. If you have something to stay when you talk, then you probably have something to write – you are just unaware of it.

So here is what you should do:

  1. Write a list of things that you have something to say about AND would like to talk about.

Why is it so important to want to talk about this? Cause you may have a lot of things to say about, let’s say, your major, but you may not necessarily want to talk about it right now. And this is the situation we will try to avoid at every cost.

Try to make it as long as possible. I would recommend 10 topics at least. And after you are done,

  1. Write a list of things that interest you in the current moment.

A good idea is to take a look at your hobbies and passions outside of writing. If you were locked in a library specializing in non-fiction, which topic would you be most interested in reading? Ask yourself, too: what do you want? Why is it so important? How would it feel to obtain it?

  1. Reread both lists – would any of the things you mentioned enrich your novel?

It’s highly unlikely you will be able to incorporate everything in the novel you are currently working on. However, you might be able to use some of those things to add to your current story or at least make it more interesting to yourself.

Sometimes you may need to write an auxiliary scene to be able to move on with the plot. Take it into consideration. If the word count jumps later when writing other scenes, you can simply remove the auxiliary one without much resentment.

I hope this helps.

Stay inspired!

Posted in For young writers

10 tips to maximize chances for finishing your novel

Each writer starts their novel with the intention to finish it. But then, you suddenly get stuck at page 15. Or 25, or 35. You know what to write. But you don’t know how. How is this situation too familiar? Here is a list of 10 tips to maximize chances for finishing your novels (when you are already isolated in a beautiful mountain cottage):

OVERPREPARE:

  1. Character sheets – the backbone of the story are your characters, not the plan. Why, because it’s the characters that cause and participate in all of the events you’ve planned. If you haven’t planned your character and started writing, step back and complete a few character sheets. Spend some time with each of the character. You must know what’s going in their mind, how they are going to react in the situations you’ve planned for them, what is their inner drive?
  2. Detailed plan – Writing without a plan is for laymen. Planning not only helps you avoid plot holes, but also add professionalism: this is the place where you insert all the special effects: nostalgic references to what happened before, complex symbolism, etc… Hint: I use Excel for planning.
  3. Description banks – Knowing where the events happen isn’t enough. If your characters are walking in the park, choose the park, research it, jot down names of trees, etc. Do it with every place that you are planning to describe in your novel. It’s not hard and you will thank yourself later. Writing will be flowing once you know exactly what you should put into it.
  4. Dialogue banks – How many times have you written in your plan: “they talked about something?”. The purpose of dialogue is to provide extra information about characters or proceed with the plot. It is also a space filler, but even during space filling you need something to fill the space in. What could your characters talk about? Write all the ideas. Hint: This is the place to think about quirks in the speech of your characters. I often write ready sentences in the dialogue banks or even parts of dialogue that I incorporate later.

LET YOUR WRITING ROUTINE MOTIVATE YOU:

  1. Write from beginning to the end. Let’s be honest: if you write all the most entertaining parts first, chances that you will return to the most boring parts later are skim. This is why I suggest writing from beginning to the end. In this way there is always some scene that you are looking forward to writing.
  2. Use chapters. Cutting your novel in small chunks will make it easier to write. Every time you end a chapter you will get the sense of a small victory and feel motivated to continue.
  3. Update word goal frequently. I recommend to use a goal tracker. A free one is available on NaNoWriMo. Seeing how much you’ve written and how much is left also shows you that you are moving towards your goal.

GROW ADDITIONAL MOTIVATION SOURCES: 

  1. Prepare your soundtrack. Gather all the songs that remind you of the novel that you are currently writing. Write while listening, or if it distracts you, listen and visualize being inside your novel. This will create a mental link between the songs and your novel. When you are out of motivation, simply listen to your playlist. The inspiration will strike!
  2. Visual boards. When you are out of inspiration, you can describe the images that you have put on your visual boards. Best places to create visual boards online are Pinterest and Tumblr.
  3. Read alike. When you are writing romance, you should read romance. Not thrillers. Reading thrillers will distract you and make you want to write a thriller. Try to intake entertainment similar to the theme of your novel. If you are writing elf fantasy, read elf fantasy, etc.

I hope this helps!

Stay inspired.

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

Why you should stop freewriting right now

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash.com.

WHY DO PEOPLE FREEWRITE?

If you have writer’s block, you have probably stumbled into advice to freewrite. Freewriting is writing without thinking about the quality of what you write. It’s just sitting at the computer and letting the stream of your consciousness into the file. When you have writer’s block, writing poorly feels better than not writing anyting at all. It is so because it gives you the illusion of moving forward – after all, it allows you to produce large amounts of text in short time. However, freewriting will backfire – if it hasn’t yet.

WHY IS FREEWRITING A BAD THING?

  1. Freewriting doesn’t cure writer’s block in the long term. Freewriting during writer’s block is like taking a painkiller for tooth pain instead of seeing the dentist. You need to know that writer’s block seldom goes away on its own. It’s your mind telling you that you need to change something about your approach to writing, your writing routine or your life as writer. If you keep ignoring it and freewrite through it, you are like a man with a broken leg who is running, thinking that running will help him heal.
  2. Freewriting worsens the quality of your writing. Have you ever asked yourself why most first drafts are crap? It’s because writers freewrite them. They don’t pay attention to the quality of the work. They are focused on the quantity and speed. They want to have the book in front of their eyes. Do you know why writer’s hate editing? Because editing freewritten text requires a lot of re-writing and correcting. I am telling you, if you spend a decent amount of time planning details of your book and then do your best every time you write, you won’t have to edit endlessly.
  3. Freewriting pushes you in a vicious cycle. You write poorly. You get writer’s block. You freewrite through it. You read your poor writing. You write poorly. You get writer’s block… etc. Break out of it! Stop freewring.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK INSTEAD OF FREEWRITING?

  1. Don’t panic – you are an olympic swimmer who caught a cold. It is temporary. it will pass. Your writing will be back in no time. Believe in yourself.
  2. Find and heal the root cause of the writer’s block – ask yourself “Why can’t I write? What’s bothering me?” and reply yourself honestly. Then, think about what would help you. If you are stuck, you can check my article: “10 most common causes for writers block and lessons you need to learn”, where I provided realistic solutions to the problem.
  3. Write less but keep the quality of your writing – I suggest starting with 50-100 words and then gradually increasing the amount. Why you should focus on quality? Because it will show you that your writing is still amazing and motivate you. Once you are motivated, the writer’s block is practically gone. Also, if you are blocked with a particular story, switch to something else. Write something completely unrelated. Write something you have something to say about. The quotes that I publish on my Twitter originated from my trying to help myself through writer’s block. I have written many amazing things that I wouldn’t have written otherwise.