How to Conquer Writer’s Block

Have you wanted to begin your article or blog but can’t seem to progress after seeing a blank page? Are you riddled with lots of great ideas, but can’t quite figure out which one to use? Are you stuck on a certain part of your writing outline?

Unfortunately, aside from procrastination, you are probably experiencing the writer’s block – a hurdle in your creativity that prevents you from finishing your task.

Perhaps the most common occurrence of experiencing the writer’s block is in starting your project. You are faced with a blank page or paper and you experience either a lack of creative ideas or fear of not being able to write something you can be proud of. Every writer experiences it and most get overwhelmed. This often leads to procrastination that results to a poorly and hastily written post or article created just to reach your deadline. The article you wrote may just get rejected or you may get asked to re-write it over and over until it becomes good enough to meet your editor’s standards.

There are ways to overcome and conquer the writer’s block. Take time to read and try the different ways to conquer the writer’s block. Just remember that not all of what is shared below can work for you, so it is important to figure out which one helps you beat your writer’s block.

  • Don’t allow the fear of failure get to you. Instead of thinking about the negative feedback you might get from what you will write, think about getting recognition from it. Remember that it is natural to get asked to revise a few parts of what you wrote. In the case that your work gets rejected, do look at it as a way for you to learn. Take notes, review your work and try again.
  • Affirm your talents. Get up, look at your reflection in the mirror and read an affirmation. Repeat it three times or as much as needed until you believe what you are reciting or saying.
  • Calm your nerves. If you are just new to writing, you may get too excited or too scared. Listen to calming music, preferably one with no lyrics. Drink a cup of tea or something warm to help soothe your nerves. Your task may be overwhelming so tackle it one sentence at a time.
  • Take a 10-15 minute break. Sometimes you just need to take a break. Give yourself time to settle down. Perhaps you have overworked your brain cells and all you need is some down time. Do something that will help you de-stress, something that is not related to writing or to your writing task. Think of doing what you like to do or something that interests you.
  • Think of happy thoughts. Stop thinking first about meeting your dreaded deadline. Watch something funny, a viral video, or something inspiring to help lift your spirits after beating yourself up for getting stuck with a blank page in-front of you. This will be especially true when you watch babies laughing or animals doing funny things.
  • Set up your workstation somewhere else. Your mind may start churning out words for your article when you have a change of scenery. Working on a different station or looking outside your window allows your mind to drift away. Play your favorite song, daydream and let the ideas in while you are at it.
  • Get moving. Try walking up and down the stairs or go for a 5 minute walk around the block. After being active for even a short bit of time your mind will get re-charged ready to finish the tasks you have.

Try each one of the tips mentioned above and see which one works the best in helping you conquer writer’s block. Do you have any suggestions? What tips and tricks work best for you? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Great Resources for Writers

As a poet, spoken word artist, writer, entrepreneur (and several other amazing adjectives), I found it very difficult to find affordable and practical resources to help better myself and my craft. I had been writing since about 2000 and performing since 2010, yet, I was still having some challenges seeking quality programs and general guidance to help move my career to where it needed to be – correction – where I wanted it to be. That being said, here is a list of the best 10 resources that every poet or writer should utilize BEFORE they even begin planning their goals for the year:

1. Grants, Scholarships, Fellowships

Poets & Writers, Inc., is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for creative writers. Founded in 1970, it is the nation’s largest nonprofit literary organization serving poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Their national office is located in New York City. Their California branch office is based in Los Angeles.

2. Writing Prompts

The Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library promotes student and faculty success in learning, teaching, and research.  They build, manage, and preserve research and information collections; serve the information needs of our community in a welcoming physical and virtual environment; and create and foster collaborative opportunities for research and service.

3/4. Writing Workshops & Seminars

The famous Gotham Writer’s Workshop is the leading private creative writing school in New York City and online. Professional writers present workshops in more than a dozen forms of writing. The school’s interactive online classes, selected as “Best of the Web” by Forbes, have attracted thousands of aspiring writers from across the United States and more than one hundred countries.

The charter publication Writer’s Digest literally “wrote the book” on writing and getting published. For more than 90 years, the experts at Writer’s Digest have been publishing books, magazines, competitions, conferences and distance education materials for writers who want to polish their skills and hone their craft.

You are also likely to find free writing or poetry workshops at your local library!

5/6. A Dictionary & A Thesaurus

Writing involves a lot of words and phrases – whether it’s jargon or rhetoric – but basically they’re all the means to a well-written end. While dictionaries definitely enhance your ability to use more concise words, thesauri gives you a wider spectrum of synonyms and antonyms when you hunger for a variety of words.

Suggestion: If you’re serious about increasing your vocabulary, visit Dictionary.com and sign up for their Word of the Day email, or simply download the app on Android or iPhone.

7. The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style (1918), by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, is a prescriptive American English writing style guide comprising eight “elementary rules of usage”, ten “elementary principles of composition”, “a few matters of form”, a list of forty-nine “words and expressions commonly misused”, and a list of fifty-seven “words often misspelled”. In 2011, Time magazine listed The Elements of Style as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.

8. Finding Words that Rhyme

Write Rhymes is a fairly simple site to use. Simply write a word that you want to find rhymes for, hold alt + click the word to get the rhymes.

9. A Notebook & Pen

Carry a notebook and pen with you at all times. Inspiration can hit you at any moment. Be prepared.

10. Writing Regimen

Use a calendar or planner (I prefer to use Google Calendar since it syncs with my phone) to create and keep up with a weekly 2-hour writing session. Utilize Poets & Writers, the Library, or Creative Portal to create three writing prompts per session. Plan out the next six months and begin writing as early as next week!

Traditional, Indie, Vanity, and Self Publishing

Today the publishing industry is not just limited to the traditional press. Writers are given more options to get their work published. What seemed to be impossible before has been easily achieved by many writers.

However, the many options available to writers nowadays have raised confusion as to which is “best”. The thing is, it is extremely important to know the differences between the many types of publishing – the advantages as well as the disadvantages – because what is ideal for one person may be the complete opposite for someone else. This especially reigns true for indie, vanity, and traditional publishing.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

Traditional publishing is perhaps one of the most known ways of getting work distributed. The process for this type of publishing usually starts with a writer completing a good portion of their manuscript, producing a query letter and book proposal, then pitching it to a literary agent who best has been successful in pitching other authors in their genre(s). The agent then sends it to their connections in the Big Five traditional publishers (Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan). The publishing house that receives the manuscript reviews the submission to ensure that it is both profitable and marketable. If it is something that they would want to work with, they move forward with the process by reaching out to the literary agent.

In most cases, the author will be paid in advance for future royalties of the manuscript they submitted. This advance can range from $10,000 to $100,000, however, the rights of the book will be bought from the writer before the manuscript is published. Once the smoke clears, traditional publishers take care of everything: editing, marketing, copyrights, ISBN, cover designs, so forth and so on.

This entire process may take as long as several years when compared to the immediacy of indie publishers and self-publishing.

WHAT IS INDIE PUBLISHING?

From the word “independent,” indie publishing simply means that you are working with an independent publisher, one who is not affiliated or part of major publishing houses. Indie publishing is often referred to as small press, because they are not (yet) reaching a certain level of annual sales. Aside from this, they also publish fewer titles per year, generally ten or less. Because of the smaller nature of these publishers, it is much easier to get your work in their hands without hiring a literary agent.

An indie publisher often specializes in specific genres. This means that there is room for every writer, they would just need to find an indie publisher who specializes on the subject that they are writing about. Indie publishers will also help you market your book to make it profitable; however, it is commonly known that the author is expected to pull their weight with marketing and promotion as well. While they don’t offer as much money as traditional publishers, they do tend to provide between $500 and $10,000 as author advances.

Indie publishing can take as few as two weeks or as long as six months to get a response.

WHAT IS VANITY / SELF PUBLISHING?

Vanity publishing is also often referred to as self-publishing because the author is paying to publish their work. Although the two are similar, they are NOT the same.

With vanity publishing, the author pays a third party to complete the tasks needed to publish the book. This third party is called a vanity publisher and is sometimes referred to as a vanity press or subsidy publisher. Some examples are Xlibris and BookBaby. These types of vanity publishers provide all the services needed to publish your works, but also charge a pretty penny for it in addition to taking more than half of your royalties.

Unlike vanity publishing, where all the resources you need are in one area, when an author self-publishes, they have two options: “self-publishing” companies such as CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Lulu that are “free” to publish, but have contractual agreements, or actual self-publishing.

“Self-publishing” companies such as KDP automatically remove royalties from each unit sold, and make it nearly impossible to sell your books independently through another “self-publishing” company. For instance, with Amazon’s KDP company, an author has to exclusively sell their eBook with them for 90 days. If they find out that the author is selling it elsewhere, the author’s work will be pulled from distribution. Even after the 90 days, the author isn’t even allowed to price their book lower than what is listed on Amazon. Otherwise – you guessed it – it could be pulled off of Amazon’s bookshelves.

With true self-publishing, an author is in charge of the entire process from manuscript to marketing. They will deal with hiring a graphic designer for exterior and interior book design, an editor to revise and format the book… the author has to purchase an ISBN from Bowker, handle the copyrights, and purchase advance reader copies (also known as ARCs) and other materials for marketing. It costs significantly more money upfront than all of the other options, yes. Yet, one of the better qualities of this option is that the author have more flexibility on where you can distribute your work, and can potentially keep up to 100% of the royalties.

In all three instances, the author is responsible for the marketing campaign on all fronts. The author has to work with the press to promote themselves and garner attention to boost sales.

MORE OPTIONS FOR WRITERS

Because of the presence of indie publishers and ability of self-publishing, authors are no longer limited to knocking on the doors of big publishing houses. It is important though to way the options available and see which type will best fit your work. Luckily for you, the Hodge Agency can assist you in your decision making. Contact us today for a consultation!