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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!

 

 

 

We’re Blowing Up Amazon Today!!!

Published April 8, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

No, not literally; I’m not actually contemplating arson, crazy pants! I listed a contest for a few copies of “Chasing Shadows” in paperback on Amazon after just discovering that authors can list giveaways on the website. Who knew?! (probably everyone, but that’s beside the point) I had several copies available and set it to end in 1 week, because I assumed I would have to build traction and interest over a couple days as the giveaway spread. WRONG! I don’t know if people have alerts if a book is in their Wish List, or what, but the giveaway went live at around 1pm PST this afternoon, and it reach its max capacity for entrants in 13 MINUTES!!!! Yes, one-three, just three more minutes than 10 and WAAAAAY less than the solid week I had projected.

I couldn’t believe it!

arrow

I had just received an email that the giveaway was live, and Twitter notifications kept popping up at the top of the screen to let me know I had 10, 20, 35 new followers. I was laughing and had to ask Katie to read the notification of the giveaway’s end to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. But, nope, Chasing Shadows sold out in 13 minutes.

Panda - Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia - via http://bit.ly/epinner
I can't stop smiling - and neither can this bunny. Click through for GIF.
yes

It sold out so quickly that I just scheduled another giveaway on Amazon for this afternoon with the same details, so hopefully some of you who missed out on entering the one earlier will have another chance at a free copy. I’ll post the link as soon as it goes live here and on Twitter and Facebook, and then be sure to enter as quickly as possible and share with your friends before all paperback copies are gone. Or don’t share, since their entry could potentially reduce your odds. 😉 If you don’t win, though, don’t let it stop you from buying a copy of Chasing Shadows for yourself and adding it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22545313-chasing-shadows?from_search=true

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that Chasing Shadows sold out in 13 minutes?

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The Winner’s Crime

Published March 18, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

****(*) 4.5 stars for “The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski

CAUTION! Potential spoilers ahead, though I will try to keep them to a minimum.

Ebullient, Joyous, Giddy, Eager, Tortured, Dissatisfied, Mad, Hopeful, Delusional, Confused, Apprehensive, Tormented, Raw, Panicked, Gutted.

All words to describe my Coat of Many Reactions while reading “The Winner’s Crime,” book 2 in The Winner’s trilogy. Overall, my emotions through this wild, gut-wrenching ride were pretty much desultory, which basically means that they were fitful and inconstant (can you tell what my dictionary word of the day is? *wink wink*). But the book evoked so many emotions, one right after the other, that I never had a moment to just bask in a single one. . . . Except for the fact that I am in serious need of chocolate at this very moment after finishing the book an hour ago.

A collection of GIFs that express a wide range of sadness to use as reaction GIFs.

Here is the basic breakdown of my mental breakdown:

Ebullient when the book arrived in the mail and I finally had two days to dedicate to reading it. Oh, the sweet ecstasy!

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Joyous as I began the first few chapters and was at last able to dive back into Kestrel and Arin’s incredible worlds, knowing that they would soon meet again.

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Giddy when Arin and Kestrel do, indeed, meet in such fabulous fashion as a secret rendezvous on a terrace during a ball. And Arin revealing all those emotions–can I get a “who-hah!”? At this point in the book, I’m thinking we’re off to a great start, because where zer iz romanz, zer iz blooming love! And getting interaction between the two as early as Chapter 8 is a good sign. I. Was. Soaring.

WOOO!!! - how-i-met-your-mother Photo

And while we’re on the subject, I would like to give a shout-out to Chapter 8. *slyly* You know why. It’s like Rutkoski has this gift for making you think you’ve eaten the entire ice cream cone as it melts into nothing in your hand. So tortuously awesome!

SEXY

Eager: Go on, go ahead. Just. KIIIIIISSSSSS!

Tortured when it becomes apparent they can’t be together, but they must—they simply must! So I waited expectantly, because these things always turn around. They will meet again.

eager

Dissatisfied when such moments end sans resolution and without a little something to keep me warm at night.

Objection your honour! - Brad - How I Met Your Mother (gif)

Mad at each instant that they were together, but either the emperor was watching, Arin was upset with Kestrel for not being honest, and Kestrel felt she couldn’t be honest with Arin because it would endanger his life because the emperor was watching. You’re ruining my ship!

How I Met Your Mother - "I hate you!" "Don't leave me!"     This followed with this: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mb70fvrfHx1rnvwt1.gif
But I don’t really, Arin, because I love you.

Hopeful in those brief moments where they were together and when I could see inside Arin’s head and realized that he is still completely in love with her, and I knew that Kestrel was doing all of this sneaking around because she loves him, too, and was only trying to protect him.

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Victory.
Delusional because I kept forgetting that this is only Book II and that she can’t resolve everything to my satisfaction so early in the trilogy.
Follow your dreams.
 Yeah, thanks for that little sloth. You totally led me astray!

Apprehensive when I discovered that plans were being made behind the scenes that I as a reader had yet to see unveiled. . . . This can’t be good, but I still believed it would all work out. . . . Why are you smiling at me, Rutkoski?

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Confused: Wait, what’s happening? Why is he going home? No, no, that’s not how it goes. GO BACK! (this was about 12:30am this morning)

How I Met Your Mother

Tormented when I realized Arin isn’t coming back because of the burning flame of anger and his own torment inside of him, raging like the flames that destroy the plains. But why does he have to go?

Me when people are just being stupid/dumb

Raw because Marie has a way of gutting you and making you like it.

Barney suicide How i met your mother

Panicked as I become aware of the fact that the page number is dwindling and resolution is nowhere to be found. If I read faster, I’m sure there will be a silver lining.

AHHH. (how i met your mother,barney stinson,himym,gif,tv show,neil patrick harris,scared,scream)

Eek! Go away, truth!

Gutted as the book ends and … and … Well, I can’t spoil that for you. But suffice it to say that Book III in this trilogy better come quick, because I need answers.

know

Numb? Maybe numb. I can’t tell. I can’t feeeeeeeeeel!

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Then again…

Ted's Most Over-the-Top Romantic Gestures on HIMYM

Overall, “The Winner’s Crime” is a fantastic sequel, and Rutkoski’s writing never once lagged or became less gorgeous and descriptive and fantastically amaze-balls than in “Curse.” I still had a few issues with it, but it was more personal preference, and even then these discrepancies didn’t bother me so much because they kind of knit the story together. Of course I loved Arin and his honesty, but I sometimes became frustrated when he wouldn’t acknowledge what was right in front of his face–that Kestrel was still in love with him–and just take her in his arms and steal her away. I was desperately waiting for a moment of peaceful resolution between them that never truly came, and although I’m sure this will come in the final installment, I really, reeeeally wanted it now. Each moment they were together was like holding your breath during a long pause while each character decided what to do, and then after five minutes of sucking on carbon dioxide, you exhale and realize that nothing happened. But the author makes you want it each page, and so you keep forging ahead to get it, and their dialogues are so intimate that sometimes you come away without realizing that you didn’t get very much. So well played, Rutskoski. Well, played.

This book is a lot of things, but most of all it is a well written, beautiful piece of imagery and intricate worlds fashioned from great imagination. Rutkoski constructed a fantastically complicated plot and cast of characters that will steal your heart and, if you’re like me, steal away two days spent intensely reading and then consume the rest of your life. True story. All in all, I highly recommend this series and beg you to enjoy every minute of Arin and Kestrel’s togetherness (Chapter 8) and all the beautiful words (Chapter 8) and each complication of the plot (Chapter 8) and, well, if you hadn’t already guessed, Chapter 8. But now that it’s over, I feel a little empty. . . .

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Oh, look, another book to distract me for the next year until the final installment is released. My hands have meaning again!

“Prove that you want him,” he said into her hair.

“I do,” she said, but her voice sounded like she was drowning.

His kiss was there, waiting near her lips. “Liar,” he breathed.

Robin: You’re sick.Barney: I’m not sick.Robin: You’re sick!Barney: You know what? I am sick - sick of you telling me I’m sick. What up How I Met Your Mother 2.11 - “How Lily Stole Christmas”

 

A GIF from Me to You…

Published October 19, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Get it? Because they’re gifs, but close to gifts. . . Never mind. 

Anywho, the Chasing Shadows Twitter Release Party yesterday went so quickly (I barely kept up with my replies!) that I didn’t get to use all the fun and emotional gifs that I had planned. So I figured I’d share them with you and tell you what sort of question I was anticipating to use them for. And you can check out my replies and answers on my Twitter page @TownsendTales. Enjoy!

How do you prep for an afternoon of writing: 

I get myself psyched for “Author Mode”

The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs Of All Time

Yay!

Audrey

So Relatable - Funny GIFs, Relatable GIFs & Quotes

this gif. hahahaha.

Do you regret killing off any of your characters in “Chasing Shadows”?

Short answer: No. They had it coming or it served a purpose.

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS IN YOUR FANDOM

[gif]

Although there IS one character that I want to be in Book III that is, at the present time, deceased in some fashion. I can fix that!

gif

Explain your reaction when your fictional couple gets together:

GIF.

What about when your favorite character dies?

Thanks for bringing up that difficult memory.

Zach Roerig

What are your feelings towards people who don’t enjoy reading:

If only I could send this gif to someone when they get on my nerves. Loki is 1000000‰done

MINION!!! Gif

Favorite snacking and brain food for inspiration when writing?

Coffee and chocolate.

coffee

Have you ever tried sushi for brain food? People say it’s–

No. -_- I’ve tried it and, well:

Best gif in the worllddddd

Explain your reaction each time you finish writing a story:

minions gif

tom

Use one gif or picture to describe yourself:

cookies

Add “Chasing Shadows” and review on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22545313-chasing-shadows

Buy the paperback or ebook at B&N and Amazon:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chasing-shadows-ashley-townsend/1120440724?ean=9781939156570

http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Shadows-Ashley-Townsend-ebook/dp/B00O6VCZVQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412559762&sr=8-1&keywords=chasing+shadows+townsend

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