Posts Tagged ‘writers block’

Sorry I have been a little overwhelmed with the whole getting published thingamebob but now I am back to being just whelmed in a regular way – adjusting to life and a new career as a writer.

 

Just write!

I hear so many people tell me they want to write a book one day. Its ALMOST  getting on my nerves how many times I hear it. Either they don’t have the time or they aren’t emotionally or mentally in the right place to write. Here’s the secret to writing a book – you just kind of have to sit down and write it. Then you rewrite it, then you edit it and just keep going until its something you’re vaguely happy with (or you go crazy).

3oedulvxnhdsh83j3o

 

Be open to change!

Without going into the specifics here, I kind of had a plot mapped out for the next book I wanted to write, I had gathered information, made some vague outlines. Then I watched a TV show and the plot was too similar to what I had planned and so I decided to scrap it (for now). That wasn’t annoying at all!!!!!

If you find yourself in a similar situation dont get dishearted – every story has been told before – you can either tell it from a different perspective or find a new angle – no one can write your story but YOU

kzukrq9bn3ffy

 

Don’t be afraid of research.

Watch, read, consume ideas, read news etc – its not time wasting, its research and its important – just know when to draw the line and when you are just stalling yourself.

So I’ve had a week to mull it over and have managed on the fly to come up with something else. I have spent that week watching documentaries, reading blogs, asking questions on forums, reading articles and news reports, watching dramas, anything and everything to try and trigger some kind of story in my mind from the initial concept idea.

3oedv8geukopxdpakg

 

Adapt!

Your original idea may evolve and change – adapt to it and don’t see it as some kind of failure. Sometimes its the challenges and overcoming them that make writing fun!

So I had already kind of figured out a main character for the story I originally wanted to write. I managed to mostly transfer him over because all I had was a plan and a character bio. I had to tweek it slightly but it felt easier than starting completely from scratch – even though essentially its a completely different character.

uxy6hzx1sv0sq

Outlining?

I really wanted a complete outline before I started – but as with everything I do – I got so into the characters and the story that i wanted to tell that I am FAR too excited to just sit on this and wait for the rest of the plot to come to me. I have a 30% idea and that’s enough for me for now. I think I probably end up planning the story in 4 or 5 stages.

egzmaqak3trwg

Just start!

I’ve written fifteen thousand words. that means I have roughly eighty five thousand to go (give or take!) All of that excitement I was talking about before? its been replaced with a crushing and daunting feeling mixed with the excitement of finding my characters and finding out what’s going to happen to them.

Personally I try and work on one project at a time, because I think its good to be immersed in your story.

Do it now!

The truth is there is no good time to start writing – you just have to get on with it – its all a learning process. I am still learning now!

 

 

Advertisements

If you’re anything like me then you wait a lot. You wait for ideas to grab you, you wait for the writers block to disappear. You wait for distance from your script before you start to edit, you wait for someone else to look it over for you, you wait for their feedback. You wait until you feel ready to send your work out, you wait to hear rejections or offers of representations and then you wait for your agent (should you get one) to get you a publishing deal.

i wonder if its worse when you’re waiting for yourself or when your work is in others hands. Both can be frustrating. I remember when I was writing the first book i had a lot of people offer to read it for me, in fact I think I gave it to 5 people all together, only two of those people read it, and one was my mother (who skipped all the gory bits – which is about a third of the books) – so my advice is, don’t give it to anyone to read unless you are 100% sure that they will understand that it means something – because people flippantly say things and then don’t deliver (I’m guilty of this myself)

Having a writing partner was invaluable – my wonderful friend and writing partner J was the only person who actually read and critiqued my work from a readers point of view. It was almost finished by then but i did need someone to read it for plot holes etc. Because I had worked with J before for hours and hours in google drive – writing screenplays together I knew i could trust her to be honest with me. Writing with a partner is hard work because artistic egos can be an issue at first. i have a lot of respect for writing teams because it does take discipline to be that person as writing is naturally a very lonely art.

Sending my work off to agents, – well I was waiting for a lady i knew who was showing it to her agent – she had sent it to a “Reader” for me, which took a few weeks.  it was a couple of weeks after the reader before i heard back and then I heard back with a NO thanks – not our thing – which was fine, i was kind of expecting that. – even though you are always hoping for an offer of representation – you always expect the rejection – its better to be that way – trust me, Its fine to be disappointed when the rejections come – if your work is strong and you believe in it then just keep sending it away. Anyway the woman said she had another agent to show it to. this was about the time I got impatient – my work had been “finished” for about 3 months now and i thought now was the time to do it myself and send it away. So I sent it to a few agents – I was lucky that I heard back a week later to ask for the rest of my book and then a week later for offer of representation – which seems super fast but when you factor in everything else it really wasn’t.

So then my agent gave me some advice on things that needed tweaking or changing and i did that within a few days because really it was continuity issues over anything else and that just required perseverance rather than inspiration. Now my agent has pitched to 22 publishers and i find myself waiting again. Every day i check my email and every day there is nothing. My other half made me email my agent for an update just a week after pitching but I knew it was too soon. i don’t know how long its going to take so in the mean time I keep myself busy by writing blogs and trying to rack up my word count on the new books (which is at 56.5k thanks for asking)  and intermittently going on facebook to look at other peoples mind vomit.

Worse than waiting though, is not waiting.is selling your work short by sending it out before its finished. by not rewriting and editing because you are impatient. Do your work the justice it deserves by making it the best thing you could possibly write at this moment in time – not just something that “will do”

Good luck to me, to you and to anyone else on this crazy ride.

Since getting an agent all I ever get asked is how I got an agent. I’m going to be honest and say it was 90% per cent luck at the right person to read my submission at the right time. But its the other 10% that you need to concentrate on.

Firstly (and most importantly) – write a killer book, like not a book about a killer but a book that feels as complete and brilliant as it possibly can to you. Don’t put your faith in an agent being able to see past the mistakes to the core of you as a writer, Why would they?

Remember that some agencies get thousands of submissions a week, the world is full of aspiring writers. Don’t get your work tossed out on a technicality. get someone to help you if you struggle with any of these points below.

  • Grammatical errors are probably the first most jarring for someone who is reading your book – so make sure thats all good.
  • Punctuation – this is my downfall (you may or may not have noticed) – I have been told by a few people how bad my punctuation is. I think I am getting better – I must resist the urge to put commas everywhere. maybe because Im a rambler and I type as i think i dont really think about sentence structure. I bought a book on punctuation which i read a little bit of and then gave up, watched some documentaries. Eventually I just kind of worked it out mostly. Its not perfect but i really did try my best to make it as good as I could. I put a lot of effort into my punctuation.
  • Spellings – silly but I kept finding spelling mistakes – or words that were spelled correctly but were incorrect in the context i was using them and so were not flagged by any spell-checker.
  • Continuity – I found a massive continuity error in my book after reading it for the 300th time, I cant believe I missed it (fortunately my agent missed it too) – but if I had been reading a book other than my own then i would have totally noticed and been infuriated by the error.
  • READ – and re read. I could probably quote my book verbatim because I have read it several times. Over 100 times easily. i can honestly say I have found something wrong with it every single time that I read it. Over time you will find less and less mistakes. Once you have read it a few hundred times, read it aloud to yourself, that should throw up some interesting observations on your “flow”, find out if it works.
  • FINISH YOUR BOOK – no point having three great opening chapters if your book isn’t finished. What if the Agent wants to read the rest of the book? (Just hold that thought for 8 months while I attempt to finish it) Starting books is easy (I know – I’ve started hundreds) but finishing them is hard. Don’t think like – oh but is there any point in me writing the rest if no ones going to want it. Have a little confidence in your work. Do you want to be a writer or not? finish the damn book, then submit
  • Although the rules are different for screenplays i would definitely say that these things all apply to that too

As far as submission goes – well this is where it gets tricky. I deliberately tried my hand at crime fiction because my favourite books and movies are thrillers and so I thought it would make sense to do that. I had never tried it before and trying to get suspense into a book was a no easy feat. I also knew that crime fiction was a hugely popular commercial area of fiction and so there was likely to be more demand for that kind of story. This may seem cynical but at the end of the day I did want to get published. I had spent years with the bitter disappointment of submitting screenplays (not very often – I don’t handle rejection well ) and so I wanted to give myself the best shot possible.

So I looked for a list of agencies – I found a great comprehensive list on literary rejections website (link below) and i went on each agencies website – I looked firstly at whether they were taking submissions, secondly at what kind of submissions they were taking, then i picked my favourite ones based on my preliminary search. For each agency i carefully read the guidelines on how to submit, they are not all the same but you can bet your backside they have that submission process in place for a reason. Most of the agencies were a cover letter, a one page synopsis of roughly 500 words followed by 3 chapters of your book (this ALWAYS  means the first 3 consecutive chapters – not 3 random chapters that you think are great examples of your writing skills). One agency however wanted the first 50 pages, and another the first 100 pages. Some wanted email submissions only, some only want hard copy. Its up to you to make sure what the requirements are.

http://www.literaryrejections.com/uk-literary-agencies/

I sent to 14 agencies, i made a table in “word” and listed the date I had sent the original email with the cover letter and the sample of my work. I wanted to be able to keep track of who i had sent to – the name of the contact and the date i had sent the initial correspondence. I didn’t want to get rejected because i had messed up the submission process basically, it was important that I got that part right after spending so much time on doing the work of actually writing the novel.

As for the cover letter, i kept it short and concise. In fact I cut and pasted an example cover letter then substituted the relevant information in it. I am full of self doubt when writing letters to people and so I thought taking myself out of this part of the process as much as possible was a good idea. Don’t overcomplicate things, keep it as sharp as possible.

Well a week after I had submitted I had already received 4 rejections when I got an email from an agent saying she liked what I had written so far and could i send the rest – this was on the Monday- so i did – On the Friday late afternoon the agent asked me if i could meet up to discuss representation. I met with the Agent the next Friday (10 days ago) and now I’m signed to an Agency. Incidentally the Agency that liked me I had addressed their submission letter to “whom it may concern” but all of the other Agents I had names for. I looked specifically within each agency for the person who dealt with crime thrillers or who i thought would be most open to my work.

I had lots of advice not to just accept the first Agency that offered me a contract but in all honesty – even though I was so excited that wasn’t the decider for me – I met the agent in person and we got on really well, I was happy that they were so enthusiastic about my book that i had slaved over – trying my best to make it the best i could do. (which I really did – it may not be the best book ever written – but its the best book I could write) I had researched the Agency and knew that I would be well represented by someone who was passionate about my work. What more could i ask for?

Well, I haven’t touched this Blog for quite some time and I have been completely immersed in my own world. To say i have been writing would be a lie, I had some intense writers block almost since christmas. Stopping for any kind of prolonged break seems to pull me out of the moment and I have to force myself back into it.

To get back into it i read my own words, over and over until something sparks and I see a change i need to make, after the first 10 or so ideas it starts to come easier, but I must keep the momentum going or i lose the thread again.

It seems ridiculous to be able to write 45,000 words of a crime fiction novel, not only without any significant deaths, but also without any real idea about the killer or the motivations of the killer. I guess there is maybe some part of me that feels if it comes easy to me then it will be easy to figure out for any crime reader. Although my primary goal is to fool the characters in the book and not my audience, but there does indeed need to be some mystery there. So finally i worked out who my murderer is, and its a good feeling because everything else is falling into place, the words I have already said have taken on new meaning, which is also exciting (for me at least). As i have said before many times – I like my men like I like my biscuits : broken.

I create a spreadsheet and divide the cells into chapters, protagonist for each chapter, what they need to learn and what the audience needs to learn that they dont. I also suggest things to myself that maybe need to be included, hints at things to come etc. I also have a predicted wordcount for each chapter and actual wordcount, all tallied at the bottom and against each other so that i can see what needs fleshing out, what needs trimming down and how much I have left to do. My bizarre mathematical way of writing seems to help, my inability to finish  ANYTHING is hampered by the system I have engaged. a complex excel spreadsheet and lots of maths – which would seem to have no place in creative writing, but seeing the numbers go down , not only helps me when it comes to knowing how long each chapter should be, but how long i have to impart certain information and which phases go where. I guess I need to be organised in my mind or nothing works. Its possible this comes from my brief (not so brief) foray into screenwriting, where scenes and sequences are everything.

I have a few minor adjustments to make to my first novel UNKINDNESS and then i can continue with this next novel, about human trafficking, a subject which horrifies and disgusts me. I guess thats a part of the key too, find something you feel passionate about, something you want to relay your thoughts on.

until next time

Kat 🙂