10 Writing tips during writing slumps / lockdown #writingtips #amwriting

Everyone has days when they just can’t find the inspiration to write.

I’ve heard from writing friends that they’ve found it especially hard to find any creativity over the last few months what with lockdowns and the pandemic. Thankfully I haven’t suffered with lack of inspiration but I have found it hard to adjust to having family around during my writing time and helping / nagging two teenagers about their home school lessons can be draining.

I thought it would be a great time to share some of the tips I’ve found helpful now and in the past to help me keep my writing mojo.

10 Tips to writing through a slump

  1. Allow yourself time to write. Giving yourself the permission to write frees up your subconscious and hopefully your creativity.
  2. Write anything and see what arrives on the page. Lately I’ve managed to write some short stories by just starting with whatever comes into my head.
  3. Experiment to find the right time to write. Are you most creative first thing in the morning, evening, in bed at night? I’ve discovered first thing in the morning before I even get out of bed is my optimum creative time, though I used to love writing before I go to sleep too.
  4. Find the right medium to get down your ideas. For me that’s pen and paper or in a beautiful notebook. Maybe you like to type directly on your laptop, put notes on your phone or maybe a diary or journal.
  5. Typing up ideas you’ve scribbled down and giving them a working title can really get the creativity going as you see the story emerging on the page.
  6. Use idea spinners; Title prompts, picture prompts, story cubes, online sites, competition story prompts, news articles, or whatever springs to mind as your pen hits the paper.
  7. Have a writing journal or a place to scribble down ideas or bits of stories. When you are stuck for an idea it’s great to be able to flick through your past scribblings and see if anything inspires you.
  8. Maybe it’s time to revisit an old novel or short story attempts. I like to print them off, or even better send them to my ipad or kindle. Then, armed with a notebook and pen, I can read through them as a normal book and make notes on what needs changing or expanding.
  9. Sharing stories with critique partners can help you find out what’s not working and talking it through may just inspire you to finish it. One of my beta reader’s recently pushed me to reconsider the whole mood of a story and I realised making my character so morose was stopping the reader from connecting with her.
  10. Write with a friend. You can spur each other on. This is something I’ve been doing with one of my writing buddy’s Jackie. She decided to start sharing the story on her blog to force her to write more. Here are the links so far; The day of the Badger (working title) Part One , Part Two.

A few points to remember

  1. Write now. Edit later.
  2. Don’t think too much about the story. Allow your mind to work as you go along and be amazed at the story that unfolds.
  3. Don’t hold back.
  4. Don’t expect it to be a wonderful first draft. The fun is in the editing, at least it is for me!
  5. Enjoy yourself. Writing and creating is the best natural high there is.

I hope these tips have inspired you to write.

Do you have any great tips to share?

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

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May writing update #fantasy #indieauthor #mondayblogs

The strange days we are living through have had a big impact on me emotionally. I’m constantly moved to tears by the kindness of strangers and the sacrifices people are making to get us through the epidemic.

The lockdown hasn’t impacted my life as much as others. I write from home anyway and my writing has kept me sane and helped me escape the gloom of the real world. I have fallen far behind on my original plan for 2020 but in these times we all have to adapt. I am now focused on 1 major project, though it does have 3 parts. It would be wonderful to complete the whole project by December 2020, but I won’t pressure myself just yet. There are still seven/eight months left – now that is actually beginning to sound impossible! Let’s see what happens. That has become a motto for me lately.

Publishing Plan for 2020

End June – publish prequel novella.

The odds of me completing on time? Not sure. I had though it was almost ready, but after a beta read I know I have a lot of work to do. With the kids home both doing live lessons and needing access to my laptop, it can get awkward.

There is also the pre-order issue to consider. I haven’t found it makes a huge difference to sales, but I would like a short pre-order period. That means I need to buy the cover and sort out the blurb asap – time to start panicking!

End September – publish The Starlight Prophecy

This books is probably 80% written. I know the end and what needs to happen, I’m just not yet sure how it all comes together. It has a dual timeline element like Visions of Zarua and I’m hoping it works. Again I will be relying on my beta readers for their verdicts. I already have the cover and I am really excited to start sharing information about the story, but I have to be patient for a bit longer.

December – publish sequel novella

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful idea of following on the story 6 years after the end of The Starlight Prophecy. Ideas have been flowing and I’ve even drafted quite a few scenes, but I have to be patient and finish the main book first!

Other projects

I hope to write some more short stories this year. Over the weekend I’ve written two that I’m really happy with and I’d love to keep up the momentum. I find I am most inspired first thing in the morning, sitting in bed with a notebook, a pen and a cuppa.

Book Reviewing

I have hardly reviewed any books over the last few years and I think that’s a shame. As an author I love getting reviews and I want to share the love for other books too. I’d love to make another author’s day so I’m determined to write a few reviews this year. I’ve already started with books 1 & 2 in the Firewalker’s series by Emma Miles. Here’s my review.

Audiobooks for Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy.

I’m hoping work will start this month on book 1 The Lost Sentinel. My narrator has been reading the trilogy and making notes on all the characters. This is a huge project and I admire him for taking it on. I can’t wait to start listening. Maybe I’ll even get to share a sample at some point…

Final thoughts

I have plenty of other projects and books waiting to be written but I don’t want to put any more pressure on myself this year. I’ve a feeling things are going to get worse before they get better here. My husband is self employed and has no work. When the lockdown lifts we hope that will change, but I think my writing is going to be even more important than ever to my sanity.

I’ll leave you with a picture of my new writing companion. She’s a neighbour’s cat who keeps sneaking into the house and is trying to adopt us.

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

You can follow me on

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A little update and blogging break #amwriting #amwritingfantasy

Just to say that I’m still around but I will go quiet on the blogging scene (again) as I plan to concentrate on my next three writing projects. I don’t make it easy for myself do I!

I also have a couple of Christmas events to prepare for and I can’t wait to get out in the local community. I’ll be selling my signed paperback books, which make the perfect Christmas present by the way. If you’re in Ashford Middlesex on 4th December or Wraysbury on 14th I hope to see you there. I’ll update other social media platforms with more details so don’t forget to follow me with the links below.

I hope to bring you some updates in the new year and share my plans for 2020.

Until then, keep reading, writing and enjoying every moment. And have a wonderful Christmas.

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

You can follow me on

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11 Tips to Creating Heroic Characters #amwriting #writingtips #writingadvice

I’ve been neglecting my blog for longer than I care to admit. Writing and publishing has taken over my life but I’ve missed blogging and connecting with people. So today I decided to share my thoughts on creating characters. I wrote this guest post for another blog last June for the release of The Sentinel’s Reign. Unfortunately, the blog in question is no longer active but I really enjoying writing this and wanted to share it with you.

It’s all about character

Writing characters that touch readers is something I’ve always wanted to achieve. Raised on a diet of David Gemmell and Robin Hobb, authors who create such vivid and heroic characters, how could I aspire for anything less?

When I create characters they stem for a tiny seed of an idea or a scene that just pops into my head. I allow them time to grow naturally while I jot down some scenes. Later I go back to flesh out the details and build upon their history and how it has influenced them. They soon become like people I’ve known my whole life.

Some reviewers have pointed out how my character, Tei, is immature at the beginning and rebels at the situation she’s thrust into. With time and experience, she starts to mature and accept her role. That feels like a natural progression to me. Who would like to wake up in the morning and be told ‘By the way you’re off to save the world today, go pack your bags.’

I like how characters slowly reveal themselves to the reader. You don’t meet people and find out their life story in the first 5 minutes, although I have met a few people who do tell you everything and I wouldn’t want to embark on an adventure with them!

Characters are the lifeblood of any story. I can’t imagine writing anything without starting with a character. However vague and unknown, all I need is a character in a situation and then I’m away writing and the ideas start to flow.

When I think about my books – Visions of Zarua and Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy – the characters are what make the whole process worthwhile. I love them like family and I feel the pain and heartache they suffer. I urge them to find the courage to fight on even if everything is set against them.

I’m drawn to things with strong, heroic characters, be that in books, films or TV series. So with this in mind I thought I would share my tips to creating those kind of characters.

 

11 Tips to Creating Heroic Characters Your Readers Will Love

1. Let the characters find you
I cannot sit and draft out a character from nothing, instead they need to come to me. It starts with a situation, a scene or just a snapshot of the character in my head. I write and develop on that first impression and see who has come to tell me their story.
The Silent Sea Chronicles started with a young woman lost in the forest. With her father dying, she was completely alone until two strangers arrive. From that tiny beginning, a trilogy has grown.

2. Flaws all the way
No one likes a perfect person and if your character is perfect, it’s unrealistic. There is no room to develop and change over the course of the novel. Flaws make the character. Tei is immature and naïve at the beginning of the trilogy, but by the end my readers have commented on how much she has matured.
Both Brogan and Farrell are driven by the need to do what’s right, but that is also their flaw because they have to make difficult decisions that costs lives.

3. Everyone loves an unlikely hero
It is a troop, especially in fantasy, but the fact is if the hero of your story starts out unwilling and is thrust into situations they are not equipped to deal with, they will become better characters for it.
A word of caution though – make it for the right reasons not just to fit the story.

4. Give them backstory
Characters are shaped by their past and it gives them greater depth if the reader can slowly learn about the history of the character before the story takes place. It makes them seem more real, as though they live beyond the pages of the novel.

5. Make them suffer
Everyone in life suffers. The more your characters suffer, the more they can develop. Plus it would be boring to read (and write) about a character that doesn’t have any life changing events happening to them.

6. Allow them to love
Emotions help the reader connect with the character. Whether that is love of family, friends or a love interest. To me that love, and what the character is prepared to risk saving it, defines them and the book you are writing.

7. Allow them to grow
All great heroes need to learn how to become a hero in the first place. Showing that growth will also help the reader connect with the characters.

8. Let them make mistakes – the worse the better!
How else do we learn as human beings? How bad the mistake, how many others are affected, or die because of that mistake is up to you. The darker the outcome, the heavier the burden your character must carry.
Tei feels her decisions have led to people dying and this shapes her decisions and the relationships she forges. Brogan too feels that his decision, or what he perceives as cowardice, lead to catastrophe events.

9. The path to happiness is never easy
Like most people, I like a happy-ending. But I want my characters to battle for their lives to get there.
Often, as with life, that moment is bittersweet. Not everyone can have a happy ever after, it’s just not realistic.

10. Kill off your darling – literally!
My motto whilst writing the Silent Sea Chronicles has become ‘No one is safe!’
It makes the plot less predictable to the reader and hopefully sparks some emotion in them.
If a book makes me cry then I know it’s a good one. I want to evoke that same feeling in my readers. I know the emotional response will be different for every reader, but the Silent Sea Chronicles has made me cry, so if I can’t please everyone, at least I have pleased myself.

11. Villains matter
The villains your heroes are up against can be larger than life evil, as long as they have a motive to act the way they do. And make sure they are a worthy threat, and have a credible backstory too.

A final note about characters.
I have created characters I would want to be friends with, to love or to have as a family member. I even care for my villains, who aren’t all bad deep down.
To make the reader care about your characters, first you, the writer, must care deeply for these wonderful people that inhabit the world you have created. Hopefully your love will shine through in the writing and the readers will form those same bonds and root for your characters too.

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I hope you enjoyed my tips on creating characters and I hope to be back with more tips soon.

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

Visions of Zarua   The Lost Sentinel   The Sentinel’s Reign   The Sentinel’s Alliance

You can follow me on

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Blogging Hiatus – Will be finishing WIP! #amwriting #amwritingfantasy

This is just a quick note to say that I will be taking a break from blogging, not that I have been the most prolific blogger over the last year anyway.

I will be doing my best to avoid obsessively checking my book sales, kindle unlimited pages read, reviews and all forms of social media. This will be cold turkey for me and I expect tears and tantrums!

I haven’t written properly for months, so starting now I have to commit to finishing The Sentinel’s Alliance and getting a publication date set for this year. I also have to prepare for the Winchester Festival and perfect my first chapter and synopsis, plus I have been speaking with a narrator regarding the possibility of producing an audiobook for Visions of Zarua! I feel like I have so much going on that I need to step back and just focus on the writing.

I will be back in April with some books reviews, and hopefully more news on the book front.

Please message me if you want to get in touch and I will respond as soon as I can.

The picture below is where I need to be in my head, writing until my fingers bleed!

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of heroically epic fantasy

You can follow me on

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Writing Plans for 2019 #amwriting

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I have lots of plans for 2019  but the biggest and most important has to be completing the Silence Sea Chronicles trilogy and publishing book 3!

For the next few months I will focus purely on this trilogy, which will consist of:

  • Reading and making notes on The Lost Sentinel – book 1
  • Reading and making notes on The Sentinel’s Reign – book 2
  • Reading the draft of The Sentinel’s Alliance – book 3
  • Completing the draft of book 3 as per my outline and notes.
  • When the draft is completed and ready for my beta readers I want to focus on the map of the Silent Sea. At some point I plan to commission someone to produce a map but I’ve decided it’s more important to finish the books first.

Any advice you can give about map making would be gratefully received!

  • Once the book is edited etc, there will be all the usual jobs involved in publishing a new book.

 

Future writing plans in 2019

I like to set out some of my goals for the year, even though I know I probably won’t have time for everything. It feels good to have a record and I love to tick things off a list!

  • Write the prequel to Silent Sea Chronicles
  • Release all four books in the Silence Sea Chronicles as a box set
  • Republish all my paperbacks with ISBN’s and through a publisher Waterstones recognises.
  • Approach indie bookshops as well.
  • Keep trying to get my books into the libraries.
  • Read ‘Writing Short Stories to promote your novel’ by Rayne Hall and action what I learn.
  • Re-read the 72k partly written novel I am desperate to finish and actually finish it!
  • Outline and draft the novella prequel to the above novel using the techniques I’ve learnt from Couch to 50k and Take off your pants – See below.

 

Other writing related plans

Reviews

  • Review Couch to 50K by Rachel Tonks Hill once I have used the technique and discuss if it helped my writing.

couch to 50k

  • Review Take off your pants by Libbie Hawker once I’ve used the outlining techniques for some novel ideas. (By the way I chose this as my favourite writer’s guide of 2018 in this post.)

take off your pants

  • Review ‘Writing Short Stories to promote your novels’ by Rayne Hall, as previously mentioned.

writing short stories

 

Embrace my self publishing journey by

  • Contacting more reviewers
  • Organising a blog tour for the release of book 3
  • Buy KDP Rocket and use it to help with my book categories, keywords, ads etc.
  • Work on getting audiobooks produced for all my books.
  • Create a landing page on my website
  • Decide if I’m ready to set up a mailing list / newsletter
  • Go to writing events including Winchester and Gollancz scifi / fantasy.

 

Non writing plans for 2019

  • Find a way to get more sleep.
  • Fit in some exercise as often as possible.
  • Get out with the family more.
  • Read what I feel like reading without pressure as per my reading goals posted here.
  • Fall in love with my garden again
  • Be more adventurous cooking

 

That’s about all I can think of for now. I like to review my goals every quarter or mid-year, so it will be interesting to see how far I get with this list. As I stated at the start, the most important thing is working on book 3. Anything else will be a bonus!

Happy new year to you all and good  luck with your own goals whatever they might be.

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I’m going to Gollancz Writers’ day #writerslife #writinglife #fantasyauthor

This week I’m attending a Writers’ day in London hosted by Gollancz and with a special guest agent I’ve always wanted to meet.

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It’s my third time attending a writing event in London, but this one is extra special as it will be focused on SF, Fantasy and Horror. For once I won’t be in the minority and I won’t feel inferior because I’m a genre author!

I’m both nervous and excited about the day ahead. I’ll hear about the life of a book from a publisher’s perspective, learn about marketing, publicity and sales, meet some Gollancz authors and of course there’s the chance to meet the agent at the top of my list, Juliet Mushens. What a day!

There is an opportunity at the end of the day to practice our pitches, something I don’t think I will ever be any good at. I will do my best to hand out business cards to everyone I talk to though. I want to make some new connections, something I’ve failed at terribly in the past. Maybe knowing the other authors at the event like my genre will give me the confidence I’ve been lacking.

All going well, I shall share my experience with you next week. If you are attending let me know; it would be great to meet some fellow bloggers in person.

Wish me luck!

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#WWWBlogs Update and Goals for Autumn 2018 #amwriting #selfpubtips

I have been very quiet on the social media front these past few months, hoping to work hard on my draft of The Sentinel’s Alliance. That has not gone to plan but I have been doing lots of other exciting things and thought I would share them with you. Maybe you can pick up some tips for things you can be doing with your self published books.

Note – This whole situation came about because of Rebecca Howie’s post on The Backdoor to Bookstores. As you can guess it’s about getting your books into the bookshops, something I had thought impossible and didn’t bother researching. Her post has led me to;

  • Register all my books with Nielsen via a simple emailed form. This means my books can now be found on the website of most bookshops like Waterstones.
  • Ask my local Waterstones branch about stocking my books. I am waiting to hear from the relevant department.
  • Contact my local library. Again I am waiting to hear from the relevant department but the librarian was hopeful it would be accepted. If not I still have the option of donating copies for them to lend.
  • I already had a PLR account but my books weren’t on file. As I’ve now registered the books with Nielsen I can apply for my books to be added to my account. Again I am waiting for them to be processed.
  • Today I am posting a physical copy of each of my books to The British Library. Once deposited, there will always be a copy and a record of my work, though they did warn me the backlog was 3 or 4 months.

 

My next steps

  • Contact local indie books stores – I already have a list to work through.
  • Print some leaflets with LOCAL AUTHOR and hand them out around my local towns.
  • Look into book festivals for 2019 with a mind to having a book stall.
  • Look into having an audiobook produced for Visions of Zarua through ACX. I can go with the 50/50 split with a producer and pay nothing up front so there is nothing to lose. My main concern is the voice – I have 4 VP characters 3 of which are male. I think I will have to request a male narrator, though I’m not keen on men doing female voices and vs versa. Varnia is such a strong character, I would hate for her to lose that edge in an audio version.

 

Other news

I have just switched my paperback books from Createspace to KDP. It was a very simple process and took just a few minutes with the automated programme KDP have developed. Rather than try to explain it myself, I read a great post about it yesterday on Nicolas C Rossis’ blog.

 

Now onto my writing challenges for Autumn 2018

  • Finish my draft of book 3 asap, though I’m still coming to grips with the mess I made of it during Nanowrimo last year!
  • I want to try to plan the Prequel of Silent Sea Chronicles whilst writing book 3, ready to start work on it in 2019.
  • Write the draft of a new novella during Nanowrimo. I want to aim for a word count of 30-40k.
  • Enter at least 5 short story competitions. I have 5 stories edited, critiqued and ready to go and I think I have picked some good competitions to try.
  • Enter a few first chapter competitions.
  • Look for Self Pub novel competitions to enter that don’t cost loads of money
  • Work on new short story ideas for a possible anthology in 2019. I’ve already seen a couple of covers that I would love, but I can’t jump ahead that much, can I?

 

Other things I need to focus on in 2018

  • Promos for all books, including working on my AMS ads which I’ve heard is now changing anyway.
  • Contact reviewers – look for new opportunities and contact previous reviewers. It’s been a difficult summer for many reviewers so I’m hoping to reconnect with some of them during autumn/winter.
  • Write up my book reviews and post weekly. I like to do this on a Tuesday with the #tuesdaybookblog tag set up by Rosie Amber.
  • Study writing fiction for YA and decide if I want to head in that direct at some point. Some readers already class my Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy as YA so I’m interested to see why and if I should be targeting that market.
  • Finish my Goodreads reading challenge, which I am just about on target for.
  • A future goal I want to think about for 2019 is setting up an author newsletter. I know I should, but it’s one of those jobs I’ve been putting off.

 

It feels good to write down my achievements and my goals. I shall print off this list and pin it to the wall by my desk for inspiration and to keep me on track.

This list will easily take me to the end of the year. I just need to focus and stop getting distracted. I did find this post from Ari really helpful about her own September 2018 goals and working towards them each week. She shares lots of great advice and her site is well worth a visit.

Lastly, if you are looking for motivation you really should read this book – Overwhelmed Writer Rescue by Colleen Story. I reviewed it last year and it is packed with advice. I must revisit my copy.

I hope I have given you some ideas and if you have any tips to share or other routes I can follow as an indie author, please comment. I feel as though I’ve been out of the blogging loop for ages, so I’d love to reconnect with people.

 

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Belated mid-year review #amwriting #amreading

My big news is of course that The Sentinel’s Reign – Silent Sea Chronicles Book 2 is now published.

It’s available here in ebook (99p for a few more days only), paperback and free to read on kindle unlimited.

That’s the sales bit out the way.

In other news, The Lost Sentinel (Book 1) is entered into SPFBO 2018 competition and has been given to Lynn’s Books to judge, which is funny as I had planned to contact her to review the book this year. There is also a cover competition going on right now. Of course I love my cover, but there are lots of great covers in the running from my group of 30 so it will be interesting to see which ones get put through to the next stage.

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2018 has seen some major steps forward for me – landing a publishing contract with a Czech publisher for Visions of Zarua and having a full manuscript request from a UK agent for the same book. These are milestones I’ve been dreaming of, but we’ll have to see where they lead. I’m learning that everything takes time in the publishing world and you need to have a lot of patience!

 

My 2018 goals in review.

At the beginning of the year I set myself some goals (post here). Today I am revisiting them to see how I’ve done.

Writing

Publish book 2 The Sentinel’s Reign = Achieved.

Finish first draft of book 3 The Sentinel’s Alliance = Nope, but I have planned 2/3’s in a rough draft.

Look at WIP to see if I want to send to agents = Still to do. I have a draft almost finished that I would love to edit and polish and send to agents. I am also thinking on an idea I would like to try out on Wattpad. I have no idea how to go about this so I need to research it more.

Writing in general

Attend more writing events = I’ve attended 1 this year.

Contact book reviewers = I have done very well with this so far and have a new batch of reviewers to contact very soon. If you are a blogger interested in reviewing my books please use this contact form.

Learn more about marketing and get my books in front of more readers = I entered SPFBO (self published fantasy blog off) along with 299 other entrants, which will hopefully give The Lost Sentinel some much needed exposure. If you have read The Lost Sentinel, please consider leaving a review on Amazon / Goodreads, it helps with the ranking of the book though won’t have any affect on how far the book gets in the competition, that’s down to the judge of each group. I’ve run a mildly successful kindle countdown deal for The Lost Sentinel and it will go on Netgalley for a month starting 9th July.

Blogging

Tidy up blog, create banner and landing page = The blog is better but could still do with a tidy up, and I have a cool new banner. The landing page is something I still need to look into.

Blog more and focus on books about writing = I have reviewed a few writing books.

Feature more guest posts and get involved in more blog tours = I have featured Susan Leigh Noble and Ari Mehlen, but there is always room for more.

Lifestyle

Healthier diet and walk more = I lost almost 2 stone with Slimming World in 4 months, so that was a great success at the start of the year and I have been maintaining my target weight. I bought a treadmill and used that through winter but now it’s gathering dust.

Get more sleep = No chance! The hot weather and the book release don’t add up to a good night’s sleep. Maybe one day I’ll catch up on my beauty sleep.

Be more positive = I’m trying to be positive and take things as they come. For me being proactive helps, but when nothing comes of all the hard work I’ve invested it’s difficult to keep upbeat.

Reading

Read more fantasy = Yes.

Post more book reviews = Nope, I am way behind and have given up keeping my book review page up to date.

Read at least 35 books in 2018 = I’m trying but I’m behind schedule, total to date is 16.

My reading has been very slow. Editing and promotion has taken all my spare time and I’ve even struggled to find any audio books that hold my attention. My tbr pile grows almost daily and I am not making a dent in it.

I am still reading my book group choice Senlin Ascends (a previous SPFBO contestant, now traditionally published) even though I missed the group meeting last week due to a mix up with the day on my calendar! I believe it was enjoyed by all.

I did have a list of books I wanted to read and a couple of trilogies I wanted to finish, but for now I’m just going to wait and see what books take my fancy.

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What’s to come…

I hope to feature on a few blogs over the coming weeks and see some more reviews go up for The Lost Sentinel and The Sentinel’s Reign. Then I plan to throw myself into writing and make lots of progress. Fingers crossed anyway.

Because of this I will probably take the summer holidays off from blogging to focus on writing book 3 – The Sentinel’s Alliance. It worked well last year, though hopefully I can keep my hand in with a book review or two.

 

How’s your year shaping up?

 

Last plug for The Sentinel’s Reign – don’t forget to pick it up for 99p as I will be putting the price up at the end of the week. And add it to your Goodreads shelf.

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Guest Post with writer Ari Meghlen #writingtips #amwriting @AriMeghlen

Today I’m really pleased to share a guest post from fellow writer, Ari Meghlen. She has some great tips for keeping your writing projects under control. Read on to find out more…

 

Keeping the Rabble in Line: How to stick to one story

A Writer’s Life

I always knew I was meant to be a writer.  Even in those very early years when I struggled to read and was way behind, regarding reading levels compared to other children my age.  After all, my inability to read well never stopped the ideas from coming.

While I loved to draw and was not bad at it, art never seemed enough to give all these ideas life!  So, writing was the only way to go.

A Rabble of Chattering Ghosts

I have been blessed (and cursed) with always having ideas.  Any time I suffered writers block, it was usually due to mental burn-out or a stubborn plot-hole that just won’t play ball.  It was never due to lack of ideas.

I appreciate that is something I am lucky to have.  However, it does have its downside.  It’s certainly hard to complete a current project when some juicy new idea pops up demanding attention.

I recently discussed the concept of Muses and how to me, my Muses were a rabble of chattering ghosts.  And might I say, they’re a rude, demanding lot too!

Their chatter follows me everywhere – in the car, in the grocery store, in the shower.  I am forever reaching for a pen or grabbing my phone to jot down a note.  It can be anything from a character, a scene or just an abstract concept or question.

It is awesome to have so many ideas.  I love that I have enough ideas to keep me going for years to come.

However, it’s also a bad thing because all this chattering is a deep distraction.  What is the point of having enough ideas for dozens of books, if I never finish any?

Acknowledging Bad Writing Habits

When I was younger, I fell into very bad habits.  The ones where I would drop a working project (no matter how far into it I was) to start another.  I felt as if every time a new idea crept up, I had to seize it!

That entailed abandoning story after story as I chased down whatever my chattering ghosts gave me.

This is a great route for disaster as a writer.  Does it sound familiar?  Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

We do it for many reasons, here are just a few:

  • New and Shiny – I feel like writers are a bit like magpies. We are easily distracted by shiny objects and new ideas are those shiny objects.  They draw our eye and it becomes our focus… until the next shiny appears.
  • FOMO – Fear of Missing Out is a big one for people. Whether you get an idea for a story that is in a trending genre and want to exploit that, to feeling the new idea would be a better, more solid first novel to bring out than your current one.  Sometimes we fear missing the opportunity that might be better for us.
  • Ninja Level Procrastinator – Many writers don’t realise, but story-hopping is a type of procrastination. Some people have a (often unconscious) fear of completing their work so story-hopping allows them to procrastinate and never actually finish while still considering themselves writers.

But as writers, no matter what our reason, it’s not something we should do.  It is more damaging in the long run.

Exorcise the Ghosts with a Brain Dump

So, what do you do if you’re bombarded by ideas all the time?

First, you need to acknowledge the new ideas. 

Don’t try and ignore them as some will slip away, and you might always wonder if it could have been something great.  Others will just bang loudly on the door, constantly demanding entry and stop you from working anyway.

Second, exorcise the ghosts with a good, solid brain dump. 

This is where you just get all the chatter out of your head.  Open a new document, save it in an Ideas folder and then just type.  Whatever they are giving you – character descriptions, scraps of scenes, plot, dialogue, questions.

The idea here is to purge your mind of all the noise but don’t expand on it.  Don’t jot down the basis of a plot and then spend 3 months developing it.  That’s working on the project, whereas what you want to do is just create notes.

All the while remind yourself that your current project is being delayed and you must go back to it.

Third, expect that this brain dump might not be 100% done in one sitting. 

For the few days following, additional pieces of ideas may pop up.  Keep your Idea file open while you’re working on your current WIP and just jump into the document to add the odd nugget as it comes.

This is JUST for the straggler ideas and should not go longer than a few days.  Anything beyond that and you’re working on your new project.  Be firm, give yourself a cut off.

When you’ve gotten the chatter to hush, throw your focus back at your current WIP with vigour and let the idea sit patiently in its folder.  Ideas must be taught to wait their turn.

Be Firm, and Cling to Your Discipline

While writers could possibly do with some drill sergeant keeping us in line, most of us don’t have that so we must rely on our own sense of discipline (terrifying, I know!)

But if you want to be a writer, if you want to complete something and get it published, you need to be firm.

Don’t read the notes you’ve made on your new project.  Don’t keep thinking about it.  Believe me when you come back to those notes eventually, they will still trigger ideas and you can build on it then.

Why an Outline can help keep the Ghosts under control

There is a lot to be said for having an outline of your work.  If you have a strong, detailed outline written for your current work, you will find that the desire to drift off to new projects is somewhat diminished.

This is because often writers will feel a spark with new ideas, especially if they aren’t 100% sure where their current work is going.  So, rather than just sitting staring at a screen and dealing with the plot-hole or up-coming conflict, we drop it and turn to the new project.

An outline is a map, showing you the way.  It reduces the need for staring blankly at a page, trying to figure out where you’re going in the story.

I was a pantser for a long time and my work has suffered because of it.  I have been much better since I (with brutal reluctance) started to do full, detailed outlines.

Those whispered ideas don’t grab me as tightly any more because my focus draws right back to the next scene I need to write in my current WIP.

 

So, do you often find yourself swayed by the siren of new ideas?  How have you managed to stop yourself from dropping one project to start another?

 

A big thanks to Suzanne for letting me be on her blog, much appreciated.

 

About Ari

At the age of 8, Ari Meghlen wanted to be a pirate, because who doesn’t look great in baggy pantaloons and an eyepatch.  However, lacking any access to a ship this dream was relegated along with so many others: Professional Ninja, Best Friend to a Dragon, Palaeontologist.

Yet Ari found that, in stories, she could be anything she wanted and so a great love affair started with the written word.  She mainly writes Preternatural Urban Fantasy as well as more Traditional Fantasy.

When she’s not creating worlds from the screaming, shuddering recesses of her mind, Ari can be found blogging about writing on her website or indulging in other hobbies such as drawing, shooting arrows, watching movies, playing cards badly.

Me-BW

Links

Website/Blog:  https://arimeghlen.co.uk/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/writerarimeghlen

Twitter: http://twitter.com/arimeghlen

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