writer’s block

Why I’m Not More Successful

About a month ago, I appeared on a live TV broadcast of Good Day Sacramento. It was just for a few minutes, wherein I answered some fairly general questions about my latest book. One question, however, I wasn’t expecting. But I should have. Because it’s a question that non-writers seem to be obsessed with: What do you do about writer’s block?

I’m hesitant to buy this…

I have to admit that the question annoyed me. I wanted to talk about the book I’d written, or even just about writing. I didn’t want to talk about not writing. I handled the question well enough, I suppose, but I’d be happy if I never had to talk about it again.

People seem to think that writer’s block is the the writer’s main nightmare. They think it’s the result of running out of things to say. I suppose for some writers, that’s the case. But I think it’s more often the result of having too many things to say, the ideas getting log-jammed in your head. The problem is, therefore, not knowing which thing to say. I also think writer’s block is something that happens less and less frequently as you become a better writer, because you learn what to do when it happens.

So writer’s block is not an issue for me. It isn’t what has prevented me from being more successful. Nope. That would be because of one specific thing.

Marketing sucks.

I hate marketing. I don’t think I’m very good at it, and I don’t like taking time away from writing in order to promote. I suppose I’m just hoping for the sort of viral success that can only come by word-of-mouth. I know I have fans out there, just not enough yet to reach critical mass, where it’s inevitable that my work will sell well.

I guess it’s not too different from waiting to win the lottery. As they say, you’ve got to play to win. With publishing, you’ve got to promote to win. And just as I’ll happily accept any lottery tickets given to me, I’ll gladly welcome the efforts of volunteer marketing people! Any takers? For either?

Posted by vmwales in Marketing/Promotion, Problems, Writing Process, 0 comments

Writer’s Detour

Writer’s Block is something every writer deals with at some point or other. There are a lot of theories as to what’s really going on when a writer experiences blockage. Many seem to think it’s because they just don’t have any ideas. More accurate, in my view, is the view that you have too many ideas, and are just not sure which one to pick.

You know you want one.

But recently, I’ve come to realize that Writer’s Block, for me, often is my brain telling me that I need to deviate from the course I’ve been on. It’s as though I have a Writer’s GPS telling me I took a wrong turn and is re-routing me.

Yesterday, for example, I struggled with the direction of a particular scene, trying to choose between two different endings to it. When it was still unresolved after an hour, I knew I was experiencing Writer’s Detour. Sometimes, this results in a scrapping of the entire scene. In this case, it took the form of pushing me to consider taking the scene in a direction I hadn’t thought of before. And though I won’t know for a while, I’m confident this new direction will be a good one.

Sometimes detours come from external sources and not my own brain. When I was writing Wish You Were Here, for example, a friend of mine insisted that I make her into a character in the book. Now, I could have created a minor, walk-on character for her. But I saw some interesting potential for what could come of it. For those of you who’ve read the novel, I’m referring to the character of Sianon. Her inclusion added a depth to another character who needed a more prominent role in the story. I’ll always be grateful to her for giving me a way to do this in a fashion I never would have thought of, otherwise.

Answers… That way.

Writing is a lot like life, this way. New people in our lives take us in directions we never would have expected. And when we’re unable to choose between A and B, we need to consider C. In writing, as in life, embracing new ideas usually results in a more interesting experience. Detours give us new scenery to appreciate.

Enjoy the journey.

Posted by vmwales in Writing Process, 0 comments