Help, I’m stuck on the page! — 10 Tips to Get Your Pen Moving Again~

1) Breathe!  Slowly, deeply, it’s all okay and normal and you will be fine, truly. (And repeat.) 2) Put the story structure info away—in a drawer, in a trash can, in a virtual trash can—and don’t look at it again. When it causes anxiety it is no longer useful. Shred any piece of paper that tells you that there are rules for writing a novel. 3) Know that finishing is difficult for your creative self (and mine and everyone’s!). Resistance can swell a bit when the end of a draft (or even “almost-draft”) nears. 4) Know that you are the …

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Writing Without a Net: It’s Worth the Risk

“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.” ~ Gail Sheehy     We are always writing our story. At our core we write to understand, to change, to evolve. When it comes to creativity and writing, there are no guarantees that we will become rich, famous, or even remotely well-read. We can use our fears to stop us from taking creative risks; or we can use our fears to connect us to our characters and our story. That is our choice. Wishing you creative risk~S

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Scared to Write Your Book? Let Your Fears Be Your Guides to Success

Afraid of writing your book because…? Go ahead and jot down a list of your worst fears. Scared of dying? Scared of failing? Scared of finding out you can’t write your way out of a paper bag? (Who needs to do that, anyway?) Scared of hurting others with your words? Scared of contaminating the world with darkness? Scared you’ll find out you’re a monster? Scared you’re just too scared to do anything? Fears. We all have them. You can’t put them in a bottle and cork it. You can’t reason with them. But you can shift your relationship to your …

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#NaNoWriMo2015-Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #25)

Yesterday I wrote about approaching the end of writing the first draft of your novel and the various emotions that will inevitably be stirred up inside of you. In a previous post I wrote about the fact that the fears that arise around writing your book must, in their deepest nature, be connected to the fears of your primary characters. This is simply so. So, now, as you near the end of this draft, do remember to find the way from your fears–their deepest, most primal nature–to the fears of your protagonist. They will be heightened by the approach of …

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#NaNoWriMo2015-Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #22)

If you started writing your novel on November 1st, you are fast approaching your final week!  Kudos for those of you who pushed the edge of the envelope (and filled the pages) this month. If fear kept you from beginning, continuing, completing your first draft, acknowledge your fear and sit with the feelings. Take a few minutes to free write to see if you can focus in on the nature of your fears: Are you afraid of failure? Afraid of writing total crap? Afraid of actually finishing? Afraid of success? Afraid of attention? Afraid of being seen? Afraid of not …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #17)

I listened to a lecture last night by one of my favorite writing teachers, Al Watt. One of his exercises is for each writer to free write about his/her fears when it comes to writing a particular novel or screenplay. Common fears include fear of failing, fear of writing dreck, fear of forcing the story instead of letting the characters guide the writing, fear of dying, fear of hurting others. Then Al asks writers to think about the protagonist of the story and to connect the primal essence of the writer’s fears to the character’s fears. At deep core, they …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #10)

Over the course of writing seven novels on deadline, I’ve found that there are times I need to get closer to my characters, and there are times I need distance, at least temporarily. If you’re struggling with either of these issues, take these tips to heart: More Intimacy: I need to get inside my character’s skin! If you’re feeling some distance between yourself and your novel, here is a simple way to write your way to more intimacy: 1) Pick one of your upcoming scenes, an interaction between your hero and at least one other character. Your hero is the viewpoint …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #6)

Action is vital in fiction. But the action must fit the story. If you are writing a gentle love story you will probably not include car chases and IEDs. However you might include a hero who obsesses over a “potential” or “lost” love to the point of stalking. “Really, I was just picking up my dry-cleaning and can I help it if you work next door?” Details are also a vital part of bringing a fictional world and its inhabitants to life–however a wise writer chooses dynamic details, meaning those details that reveal something about the inner and outer life …

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Pump Up the Faith Muscles

I just finished a phone conversation with a writer I know. He is new to writing and he’s eager to learn his craft—although he already understands how to write strong, entertaining scenes. I remind him of this often. Still, he worries a lot. I remind him, also, that his characters are strong and they have suffered and we care about them. Characters have the power to invite us into their book so we follow them eagerly across the most tumultuous narrative seas; characters also have the less-than-desirable power to shoo us away from reading because we don’t care about them …

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COACHING QUESTIONS TO KEEP YOU ON COURSE

When I was nineteen I started a business with a partner and we called it “Hat Trick Hats”. We wanted to be portable. We sold our hand-stitched leather creations on the sidewalks of Santa Barbara and on the Wharf and Union Square in San Francisco. We wanted to be free to make our own designs and decisions and we accomplished both. We needed to make a living and sometimes we actually ended the month with a financial surplus! Of course that money was quickly spent to replenish our supplies to make more hats. Our goal was never to get rich—and …

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