• For Writers

    Sitting Down to Write: How to Start When You’re Stuck

    We all know the feeling. You’ve got a scene in your head you want to write, but your brain isn’t working. Your fingers won’t cooperate. Maybe it’s your keyboard that has it out for you. Whatever the case, you can’t think. You want to start, but you’re stuck.

    Here are a couple of tricks I find really handy for that first half-hour when you’ve sat at your desk, opened your laptop or your notebook, and gone “… oh no.”

    1. Make a list of sensory words to put you in the mindset of your scene.

    What’s your character seeing? Hearing? Smelling? Touching? Say I’m writing a scene where my main character is running from a monster in a rainstorm. I might make a list like this:

    mud, muck, slippery, splatter, pouring, shoes squelching, shivering, sheets of rain, buckets, splashed, slipped; snarling, slobbering, growling, thundering paws; spikes of lightning, blinding, flash, silver; panting, whimpering, skidding, falling, crashing

    This’ll help you visualize the scene and get into the headspace.

  • Motivation

    The Plight of the Creative In Times of Struggle

    For many of us, this past November was a month of emotional strain. I’ll admit, all fantasies of blowing my NaNoWriMo goals out of the water fell apart after the sucker punch that was November 8th. For days, I could hardly concentrate on eating or sleeping, let alone writing. I struggled to find any motivation to work on my WIP.

    Now, for some people, the darkest hours, the moments of struggle and adversity, are the times they find most creatively stimulating. “Suffering is justified as soon as it becomes the raw material of beauty,” said Sartre. It is through struggle and pain, they say, that they find the inspiration and motivation to pursue their art.

    That’s great for them. Really.

    Writing can be a lifeline, a rope to cling to and claw at while everything else is in free-fall, and if you can find solace and stimulation within the coarse fabric of your rough patches, all the better for you.

    But, if you’re the kind of writer who can’t write when you’re upset, who needs to fundamentally feel safe and happy and comfortable and encouraged to pick up the pen; if you write from a place of confidence and joy, please, please, please don’t think less of yourself for feeling creatively dried up right now.


    Try not to internalize too much shame or guilt or hatred at yourself. Humans have limits, even you.

    You are allowed to have dry spells. You are allowed to be uninspired, to be blocked. Peaks and troughs, people, it’s okay.

    One of the worst things you can do during writer’s block is strain and strain and strain. Don’t beat up or berate yourself. Don’t get angry that you, for whatever reason, can’t write right now. Be kind to yourself.

    Your creative urge will come back to you, often at an unexpected time or in a surprising way. If you’re going through hell, by all means, keep going, but let yourself take the time that you need to fight through it.

    You’re a writer regardless of whether you put down a word every day. So take time off if you need it. Let your story be a source of comfort, not one more thing to feel stressed about.


  • For Writers

    3 Reasons We Get Writer’s Block (And How To Beat Them)

    It doesn’t exist.”

    “It’s laziness.”

    “It’s in your head.”

    “What you need to do, is just start typing.”

    The internet has a lot of opinions on writer’s block, from dismissing its existence entirely to ineffectively proscribing blind clacks at a keyboard as its remedy. For someone in the thick of the brain fog and creative stall that is writer’s block, I don’t think either of these mentalities — that what we’re going through isn’t real, or that all we need to do is just write something down — is really going to help, because I don’t think writer’s block is simply a matter of  mental fog or stubborn procrastination.

    I think it comes from something far worse — and far easier to fix.