Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

Published February 6, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

As you saw in Part 1 of this series, there are many different types of writers, and I’d like to think that no two authors are exactly the same. Yet we all react to writer’s block in similar ways, which is unavoidable no matter what writing technique you use (Plotting, Pantsing, or Plotting-Pantsing). If you aren’t familiar with this term of torture, then, hello! Welcome back to earth, because clearly you were kidnapped by aliens and have been held hostage for some time and haven’t been paying attention to Pinterest series about Writer’s Problems. But if this is the case and you were abducted by extraterrestrials, then I am truly sorry and want to educate you on one of the few negatives of writing.
block

Common side effects of writer’s block include, but are not limited to:

anxiety

(noun: distress or uneasiness of the mind)

  1. I feel such anxiety because my deadline is near and I can’t seem to pull myself together and get over this dreaded block. . . . And when did my fairytale romance suddenly become a sci-fi theater drama with space buffalos?!

hair loss, due to it being pulled from ones scalp in irritation (see definition of  

anxiety above)

frustration

(noun: a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems)

binge-watching

(verb: a brief period of excessive indulgence)

This unhealthy act generally concerns television when one would rather procrastinate than try to push through the aforementioned block.

How do I escape the block? By being a mature adult and just getting it done?

ace

 

By procrastinating, silly goose! Okay, so I have to admit that there are some days when I just have to push through and try to reach my goal, despite my creative—ahem—blockage. But, man, let me tell you, looking up procrastination gifs and memes on Pinterest can definitely be inspiring. Shocked, are we? Let me tell you how this process goes.

wrtiers

Step 1. Look up random pins on procrastination.

Step 2. Laugh hysterically, because they’re just so relatable.

Step 3. Spend 30 minutes scrolling through related pins that eventually lead to one

about actual writing.

Step 4. Find a random story pin that leads you toward a gaggle of images that inspire

a barrage of exciting story ideas that never before had you considered.

Step 5. WRITE!

Aaaaaand, voilá! Suddenly you have a thousand words flowing from your fingertips. That horrible time of doubt and mistrust that those fingers would ever produce anything meaningful again flees, and you’re left with, amazingly, a story.

mozart

But at the end of the day, after you’ve trekked your way over the hump and have found your groove once more, there is one truth that is universally acknowledged.

mal

This random post is brought to you by,

Little Miss Procrastination (I should be starting my next series, but instead I’m telling you how to procrastinate . . . the irony is not lost, my friends.)

Definitions taken from my handy dandy Webster’s Dictionary app!

Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

Published January 29, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

WARNING!

messy

Ah, writers. We can be curious creatures, each having different writing talents and habits as we pound out our creativity on the keyboard, praying that the tangled story that seems just brilliant in our minds will appear on the page with even a modicum of clarity (sometimes with very little success). But to make this curious bag of creative minds a little easier to explain—indie and sci-fi and fantasy and YA and non-fic and historical and middle grade *sucks in a breath*—I have divided the types writers into three general groups.

Types of Writers:

The Plotter

plot

This type of writer loves to plot out their entire manuscript, in vivid detail, generally before they sit down to write a single morsel. The process of a Plotter involves a lot of organization, forethought, notecards, and perhaps strings linking images from one side of the room to the other (although I have always wanted to try this method, I have yet to prove if this method exists outside of TV). They enjoy creating a word count goal for the final product and designating what events should occur in each chapter and each. Blasted. Paragraph!

Pros: After weeks or months of plotting out their entire novel/series to a T, the result is a fairly smooth writing process, and all their intense preparation leaves room for very few plot holes and little to no rewrites.

Cons: Nobody puts Baby in a corner! There is absolutely no margin for error in the tale or creative rewrites because your entire story fits into, essentially, a single mold that reaches a single conclusion. So if you want to eliminate/add a character and/or scene, good luck!

The Pantster

random

*rolls eyes* Yes, we all wish we could be a total Pantster and have an incredible idea for a beginning and end to a story, and then just magically write an entire middle with absolutely no storyline errors or issues with how the plot suddenly evolved. I said we’d like to do that. The truth of the matter is that being a Pantster can be hard, like, really hard. Some writers can pull it off, and this was basically how I wrote my first novel Rising Shadows. But because I went this route, I spent a couple years playing around with my first book, doing countless rewrites and total plot conversions. It. Was. A. Hassle.

            Pros: You have tons of creative control over your story and will never get fenced in by your pre-constructed plot structure.

            Cons: You have absolutely no pre-constructed plot structure and therefore can write yourself into a hole that you have absolutely no idea how to write yourself out of because there was no real story structure to keep you on track in the first place!

The Plotting Pantster

surprise

I am proud to lump myself in with this category. This type of writer does not like to be fenced in by a specifically designed and action-by-action plot that is already completely detailed out, with no room for creative shifts or changes. But they also acknowledge that flying by the seat of their pants all the time can hinder their progress and that they need some creative structure. What I did for Chasing Shadows and Defying Shadows was create a general plot structure for the stories—big plot reveals, events that had to occur before another instance, important character revelations—that helped to keep the stories on track and events in order, but it also allows room for a ton of creative freedom and surprises for me along the way. I hate making a writing project seem like schoolwork and having zero freedom, so the culmination of the two techniques works for me (plotting and flying by the seat of my author-pants!). It also helps to have a couple big events jotted down on notecards because then you can put a little checkmark beside each one once it’s written, which means you won’t have to flip through half your manuscript trying to figure out if you’ve already addressed something. And trust me, you will at some point. Plotting out certain big events really helps you to keep your focus, but you’ll never lose that creative freedom to have fun with your story. That’s the most important part!

         Pros: see above description

            Cons: N/A (I thought that should be obvious)

So, are you a Plotter, Pantster, or a little bit of both? The creative choice is yours, my fellow bibliophiles!

This post is sponsored by,

A Plotting Pantster

Stop by for Part 2 in the “Writing is an Art, I Tell You!” series. Coming soon!

 

 

 

Defying Shadows Cover Reveal!!!

Published January 22, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Remember when I promised you an incredible, jaw-dropping cover for Defying Shadows that would have you swooning and ahhhhing? You’re in luck, because Lisa of the Elegant Stylus had my jaw dragging the floor yesterday as we tweaked and added the final elements to the front and back covers of Defying Shadows. It’ll be up on Goodreads soon, but I wanted to make a big to-do about it before the rest of the world gets eclipsed by its beauty. It is seriously spectacular, and you all haven’t even seen the back cover yet, which will be viewable soon enough, my eager group of Shadows! This final installment in the series has been a long time in the making and was created during some difficult times. But let me tell you, Sarah and Will’s story has been a joy through it all, and I hope when it comes out, you’ll find as much peace and happiness within its pages as I have.

Without further ado, I could not be happier to give you ….. DEFYING SHADOWS!!!!

DS cover--front.jpg

It Pays to Goodreads…

Published January 7, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

A couple weeks ago, I was perusing Goodreads and found several bloggers whom I totally adored and thought might be interested in reviewing Chasing ShadowsSo I hiked up my big-girl pants and sent out messages to a few of them in hopes of gaining some more feedback for the series. This was right before I went on my AMAZING vacation to Denver/Colorado Springs/Breckenridge to visit some besties of 20-odd years. To sum up my trip in a few words: best friends, spectacular, sleigh ride, mountain men, falling snow, Christmas lights, firelight, singing in the car, and Papa Murphey’s in pajamas. Yeah, it was the best! 

Anyway, so on my trip, it just made me so happy to discover new reviews waiting in my inbox for both Rising Shadows and Chasing Shadows, and also a hilariously gushy letter from Cassie herself. Much to my shock and joy–especially since I was kind of jumping out on a ledge throwing the stories at these random girls–Cassie loved them! I was so happy these books found their way into the right hands, and needless to say, she’s definitely joining my team of Shadows to pre-read Defying Shadows. ;-) Please take the time to read her reviews and follow Cassie and her friend at the links below. 

And, as always, Happy Reading!

http://novelsandnecklaces.blogspot.com/2016/01/book-review-rising-shadows-rising.html#.Vo7fhFLlwfA

http://novelsandnecklaces.blogspot.com/2016/01/book-review-chasing-shadows-rising.html#.Vo7fCFLlwfA

How did I NOT realize this?!!!

Published December 11, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

So I was on Goodreads today (when am I NOT?) and saw that Chasing Shadows made it onto some incredible lists. It’s on “Best Book Covers of All Time” and “Most Beautiful YA Covers of 2014.” Waaaaa??? This totally made my week!

If you haven’t already, hop over to Chasing Shadows on Goodreads (click here!) and see why everyone’s voting for it. Yeah, I’m a little biased, but it’s pretty drool-worthy. ^_^ And you can become a fan of my books on Goodreads here.

A Little #NaNoWriMo Encouragement….

Published December 2, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

It seems a few of us didn’t quite reach NaNoWriMo Conqueror status this year, although many of us exceeded 50,000 words in previous months. Hey, it’s ebb and flow in the writing process, and we can’t always hit our goals in any given month, no matter how hard we push and slave and abuse our coffee IVs and social network and neglect that thing called “sleep.” So to encourage those who, like me, fell just shy of their goal last month, I thought I’d share this email I received from the NaNo team. I found it to be pretty encouraging, and I hope you do, too. Remember, no one will ever write your novel, and whether you are published or not, as long as you keep writing, no one can ever take your story from you. Be proud of what you accomplished this month, and don’t worry, fellow dreamers. We’ll get ’em next year! ^_^

AND congrats to the winners of NaNoWriMo season–you all worked hard, and I can’t wait to read your WIPs soon!

NaNoWriMo Logo

Dear Writer,

You might not have hit 50,000 words this month, but you did something tremendously important:

  • You felt a story stirring in your heart, and you began to explore it.
  • You bravely signed up to make creativity a priority in November.
  • You created a beginning—a beginning that will lead to other beginnings.

Sometimes an illness or the demands of life can sidetrack a creative endeavor. Sometimes a story just isn’t quite ready to be written. But don’t despair. A novel travels the same labyrinthian and nettlesome path that its main characters do—overcoming setbacks, facing down gnarly antagonists, and then moving forward toward the light. You built a cocoon for your novel this November. A butterfly will emerge.

So I urge you to keep your creative fires burning and ready yourself to reach 50,000 words next NaNoWriMo. Here are three things you can do if you haven’t already:

  1. Donate to celebrate your novel’s genesis—and to finish it!
  2. Keep the writing conversation going in NaNo’s forums (the lights are on all year!)

  3. Sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo in April to renew your creative commitment.

Most importantly, please keep believing in the transformational magic of creativity, and how it can amplify life in all ways. Our stories connect us. Our stories make us who we are. The world needs your novel, so please write it.

Saluting you for your many future NaNo wins!

Grant Faulkner
Executive Director

P.S. Today is #GivingTuesday—a celebration of generosity. You can also donate to support a classroom in NaNo’s Young Writers Program. We sent 2,000 free novel writing kits to classrooms in 2015. In 2016, we’d like to expand our reach by sending 500 more kits to classrooms near and far. After you donate, let the world know.

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