Shayne on You: No such thing as writer's block

Dear Maggie,

First, I would like to tell you, You are my favorite author!! I have read almost all of your books and your talent to draw a reader in amazes me.

Second, I have been trying to write a three part series of books! So far it has taken me two years and I only have six chapters completed on the first one, ten chapters on the second and fifteen chapters on the last. My first question is how long did it take you to write your first book?

My second question is what do you do for writerís block? People that have read what I have written so far, keep urging me to finish it, but I keep getting stuck and I donít know what I should do to continue. I have not written anything for over two weeks and I feel guilty. Help!


A Frustrated Writer

Dear Frustrated,

ďThereís no such thing as writerís block. The cure for when you donít feel like writing is to put your ass in the chair,Ē or so the great Nora Roberts has been heard to say.† And early in my career, I agreed with her. But now I say, guilt is a wasted emotion, and life is too short to spend time doing what you donít particularly feel like doing. So if you donít feel like writing, do what you DO feel like doing.† Write when you feel geared up to write.

Youíll write more and better if you write when you really want to write, and do something else when you donít! When I first heard this advice, I was afraid to try it, because I worried Iíd never ďfeel likeĒ sitting at the keyboard, slaving away again. But thatís not how it worked. By feeding my mind and spirit with fun things, I found the urge to write came back fresh and vigorous. So my cure for writerís block is to go live life for a while. Itís all grist for the mill. If your gas tank is empty, you need to fill it up before you can continue on your road trip. And I think this can be applied to just about anything in life.

Iíve always been a fairly fast writer, but I imagine the first novel took me eight or nine months.† I like to take about six months per book now, but Iíve often written books in three.† The more you do a thing, the more efficient you get at it.

I cannot even imagine starting book two before book one was finished, or book three before book two was complete. I admire that you can do that. I barely know whatís going to happen in the next chapter before itís written, much less the next book!

Also, remember, friends who read your work and love it are wonderful, but mostly useless. They may know what they like, but theyíre probably clueless about the market, whatís selling today, what isnít, what the trends are, and so on, nor are they likely to have much knowledge about technique, point of view, scene setting, transitions, or even manuscript format. Get your work in front of an editor who can buy it. Thatís the first reader you have to please.

Thanks so much for your kind words about my work. Best of luck with yours!


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