Friday, November 12, 2010

Block Writer's Block!: Guest Post by Stephen Tremp

November is the month of Nanowrimo and PiBoIdMo as well. There is a lot of pressure to get words and ideas onto the paper. What do you do if just can't think of one more scene? What do you do if you can't think of any more picture book ideas? What do you do if you can't stop eating Halloween candy (okay, that is a topic for another discussion)?

Today I have author Stephen Tremp to help you work through Writer's Block. Stephen Tremp is author of the near future science fiction action thriller Breakthrough. Stop by and visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs where Breakthrough is available for purchase and download to all eReaders. Take it away, Steve!


PhotobucketI have blogged about Writer’s Block on and off for the past year. This heinous dark thief of creativity can affect a writer in trivial or monumental ways and often rears its head at the worst of times. Writers Block can frustrate a writer’s creativity and source of inspiration and thus impede their ability to translate mental concepts into written words.

But not to fear. There are numerous simple exercises one can use to slay this sinister villain of imaginativeness. Here is a comprehensive list of methods I use to fight off this evildoer. This is a great blog to save to your Favorites or Bookmarks. Okay, here we go:

“What if …” Scenarios These two words have inspired writers and poets to pen masterpieces that are now considered literary classics. Think of a “What if …” statement, then make a pot of coffee, sit down, and begin writing. Please take a moment to read this brief link, then try it your self.

What would you do if you were not a writer: Here's a little exercise I do to get the creative juices flowing. I ask myself a question, "What would I be if I could be anything in the world other than a writer?" Then I place myself in this situation and think, “What can I do with this?” Again, take a moment to read this brief link and you’ll be amazed at how such a simple exercise can open the door for multiple stories.

Ask other bloggers to help with a particular problem: This is a great exercise with a huge payoff. Example: I was struggling with a particular chapter. I needed a jailbreak. And not just any ol’ jailbreak. I needed to bust out someone from the center of a state-of-the-art facility. It had to be clever and high tech. The response was 40 terrific comments. Although I won’t use all of the ideas in the actual jailbreak, I can use them while the characters are brainstorming ideas to bust the professor out. So I ended up with two chapters, the jailbreak itself, and a chapter covering the planning stage. Two for the price of one!

Research the research: I don’t have a particle accelerator in my garage. Good thing I don’t need one in order to perform research in the area of physics. I can research the research. Make two lists: One of topics you would like to research and one people who have a deep understanding of such topics. Then, go to theoretical physics or the name of a respected expert in the respective field of your story. For example, type in “theoretical physics” and a multitude of clips will come up that you can watch. These are free, concise, and usually reliable sources.

Weekend Follies Captions: This is a great way to get the creativity moving forward. On weekends I often post my Weekend Follies, five pictures of cute animals doing silly things and ask people to write a clever or witty captions. This exercise quickly stimulates the mind (best to do with a cup of coffee) and helps the neurons in the brain make those all-important chemical synapses between the nerve cells in the brain.

Guest bloggers: I belong to a few Yahoo! Writers Groups and we each take turns hosting. These are talented people; writer, editors, poets, teachers, researchers, etc. with fresh ideas. I subscribe to all posts, quickly eliminate those that are not pertinent, then reading and sometime saving the relevant ones.

Finally, ask your editor: You do have an editor, don’t you? Think of an editor more as a mentor. A life coach. A friend in need. Your editor is one of the best sources to bounce ideas off. Just don’t call them in the middle of the night. They hate that.

Please join me Monday as I visit Jemi Fraser’s blog and we discuss an emerging genre: Modern Steampunk.

Thanks for stopping by on Stephen's blog tour. Great suggestions, and I just might have to ask my wonderful blogger friends for help with future scenes...For example, in one scene I have a character that wants to meet her favorite rock band. How should I (cough)- I mean she go about doing that ? :).
Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

43 comments:

C.R. Evers said...

awesome post!

You have a great weekend too!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I love those ideas! Funny how "what if" and asking friends never occurs to me when I am panicking! Thanks, Stephen and Kelly!

Laura Pauling said...

Congrats on the book! Enjoy your tour. And great ideas!

Liza said...

It's great to hear how others deal with the dreaded "block." Thanks Stephen. Thanks Kelly for the interview.

Stephanie Blake said...

Thanks man!

Stephen Tremp said...

Thank you Kelly for hosting me today. ANd thanks to all your friends who stop by by. Glad you all like the post. These little exercises really do work and they're fun to do. Thanks again for stopping by!

Heather Kelly said...

What about Revision Block? Any cures for that beast?? Cool post, Kelly and Stephen!!

Old Kitty said...

Thank you Kelly for hosting the fab Stephen Tremp!!

And thanks Stephen for handy tips on how to overcome that beastly demon - the writer's block!! All very useful for me - except the editor bit. I don;t have one externally but I do hav one residing in the recesses of my sordid mind!!! She does daily battle with my writer's muse!! LOL!

Take care
x

Arlee Bird said...

Thank you, Kelly for hosting this stop on Stephen's tour.

These are all great tips, some of which I often resort to--especially the research one. The internet has been such a useful tool (and alas sometimes a time waster). I find that research will often lead me in new directions besides giving me the information that I need.

I've never had a problem with writer's block. I'm always coming up with things to write about. My biggest problems is staying focused and keeping motivated. How about that topic in the future?

Lee
Tossing It Out

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kelly, I love th tie in to NaNo, which I'm participating in for the first time.

Stephen, I got here at a normal time. Amazing. Nano has swallowed so much of my time that I've neglected some of my blogger friends, like you.

Good thoughts on writers block. So many things can block the forward movement of writing. For me, it's mostly been dealing with some tragic personal losses which seemed to suck any creativity right out of me.

While dealing with all emotional tsunamis I lost my daily discipline of writing and the volume I had once.

This is one of the reasons I signed up for Nano. It's helping to restore that discipline and so feels great.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Glad that's one thing that's never been a struggle for me. Probably the ONLY thing!

Lydia Kang said...

Great post and some excellent ideas! Thanks Kelly and Stephen!

Stephen Tremp said...

Heather, Revision Block is a monster all its own. I think it has three heads. I'm working on a revision now, and fortunately the words are flying off the keyboard.

Kitty, you can send off a chapter here and another one there to various editors as most will do one for free to show you what they can do. You might want to try this. You can learn a lot about editing and see things in your own MS you will not on your own.

Arlee, staying focused is a great topic and ... look, a squirrel with a bushy tail!

Sia, so good to see you again! Nano is time consuming. I'm doing okay but am not close to be on track for 50,000 words. Best wishes for your success.

Diane, you always have something interesting and useful on your blogs. Everyone, if you have not visited L.Diane Wolfe, it would be to your advantage you check out her site and resources.

Lydia, glad you like these ideas. They help me get over the hump on those days when my brain is being stubborn.

Kris said...

Great tips, Stephen. And thanks for sharing him, Kelly!

Kris said...

Just wanted to circle back--I just marked BREAKTHROUGH "to read" on goodreads!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This another brilliant post, Stephen. I am going to use some of these ideas/exercises with my composition students. You rock! :-)

Carolyn Abiad said...

Questions are the answer! Thanks for reminding me to stop staring at the screen and try something else. :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Even though I spend lots of time not writing, I don't think I've ever had Writer's Block. I simply have a severe case of procrastination. Good post, Stephen. Thanks to Kelly for hosting Stephen today.

Denise said...

Great advice, Stephen. Thank you! Kelly, you can try throwing some, um, stuff up on stage.

Theresa Milstein said...

Like the tips. I never thought of trying them.

Good luck to all you NaNoers.

MG Higgins said...

Love the suggestions. Thanks to both of you!

N. R. Williams said...

I get to read something interesting, written by one of my fav. bloggers and meet a new friend too. It is great following blog book tours. I haven't made them all...hurt my shoulder on Tuesday and couldn't write, but the one's I have made are great.
Mary Montague Sike is at my blog with her blog book tour. Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Stephen Tremp said...

Kris, nice to meet you.

Shannon, glad the kids can benefit too.

Carolyn, I sometimes stare at the screen too. Hopefully not too much time passes before I snap out of it.

Patricia, fortunately I have solution for procrastination. But I think I'll share it tomorrow (get it ... I'm procrastinating).

Denise, I think I can guess what that "stuff: is that is thrown on stage LOL!

Theresa, they really work. I use at least one of them every week. Sometimes the gerbil inside my brain is taking an extended nap.

Kelly said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by the blog tour today!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I just wish my hunt and peck typing kept up with my ideas!

Jemi Fraser said...

All great advice, Stephen! Looking forward to hosting you on Monday!

Susan Fields said...

Another great stop on your tour, Stephen! I especially like the tip about asking other bloggers for help.

Thanks for hosting, Kelly! Good luck with that rock band dilemma. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

LOVE his tips!!

Bob Sanchez said...

Great post, Stephen. Another thought about writer's block: If I am in the middle of a scene and feel badly stuck, I may take a break and free-write about the fact that I'm stuck--what the problem is that's bugging me, what the possibilities are as well as possible solutions.

Stephen Tremp said...

MG, nice to meet you. I'm meeting so many terrific new people here.

NR, sorry to hear about your shoulder. I'll stop by your blog and check out what Monti has to say.

Alex, sometimes I pretty scattered. So I write and put the loose thoughts in my JUNKYARD so they are there if I need them in the future.

Jemi, thanks for stopping by. See you on Monday!

Susan, I had a series called, I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. Honestly, I would not be where I am today without my blogging buddies.

Jennifer, thanks for the encouraging words!

Bob, thanks for the additional input. I can see how this would be helpful too.

Nora MacFarlane said...

Excellent post!

Donna Hole said...

Awesome tips Stephen. Why yes, thank you, I will save this to my favorites. I sometimes think I spend more time countein writers block than acutal writing.

Can never have too many terrific tips.

.......dhole

The Old Silly said...

Excellent article, Stephen, with lots of useful tips. I rarely get writer's block, but when the beast does appear, I do something completely different - do some activity I've never (or rarely) done or go to a place I've never been to ... helps stimulate different synapses in the old noggin' and usually creativity flows freely again.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great tips, Stephen. Have fun on your blog tour.

Anita said...

I think you should see if your new local newspaper has a rock critic...if not, you should volunteer...maybe get free tickets, a chance to interview your favorite band????

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Kelly and Steve .. good to see you here .. I love how you got two chapters from the brainstorming you did over your jail break ..

Also the tips re being creative, getting an editor as a mentor, life coach, friend etc .. and the Writers Groups - they certainly sound stimulating .. and the power of a team ..

Thanks - another interesting look at blogging & getting help with the novel ..

Thanks - a good read .. Hilary

Stephen Tremp said...

Nora, thansk! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Donna, this is a great blog to save if only to serve as a point of reference.

Marvin, that works too. A new environment, new people, new treats to eat too!

Hilary, often there are unexpected surprises of the good kind when doing these exercises.
Carol, I have to admit I'm having a lot of fun. Meeting lots of new people too.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great guest post, Stephen! Wonderful tips. :) I love the what if idea...

Fickle Cattle said...

Great tips! The jailbreak anecdote was particularly enlightening.

ficklecattle.blogspot.com

Samantha VĂ©rant said...

I ran a bit slow! But I'm here now! Great tips, but Kelly, I think you know how to meet the rock bands – the proof is in the pictures!

Elana Johnson said...

Great post! I like playing the what if game too.

I think I'm going to take Scott Westerfeld's advice for next time I'm stuck. He said that anytime he's stuck, he has people jump off of something. That sounds about right to me...

Kelly said...

Thank you again, Steve for your great post and thanks everyone for checking it out!!!

Stephen Tremp said...

Sharon, that's my favorite. I could write a book a year easily using the What If exercise.

FickleCattle, just goes to show we can't be an island in this life. We need a little help from out friends.

Samantha, just use a wormhole, kidnap your favorite rock band, and bring them home with you.

Elana, I'm going to try that next time. I'll go to the playground with my kids and jump off the swings when I'm at the peak.

Kelly, thanks for hosting me. You have a great group of people visiting!