Valentine’s Day Romance Blogfest

It’s official. Jordan McCollum is hosting a Romance Blogfest to help celebrate St. Valentine’s Day next Monday. It’s easy to participate, and a fun way to exercise your romantic creativity as well as meet other bloggers.

Go add your URL to the ‘Mr. Linky’ on Jordan’s page now, then write something on the theme, “Love at first sight . . . or not so much” to post on your blog Monday. After posting yours and linking to Jordan’s page, you can visit the various other links to read and enjoy all the romance while you nibble chocolate Valentines… or whatever else you may do to celebrate the day.

The guidelines and ‘Mr. Linky’ are on Jordan’s blog. So what’s stopping you? Are you going to show us your romance writing ability or not?

Guest Blogger Jordan McCollum on Beating Writers’ Block

I’m delighted to welcome Jordan McCollum today. Jordan is talented in several areas but what we have in common is a passion for writing. She is an aspiring novelist, writing “mysteries to fall in love with, romance to keep you in suspense”. Today she shares some ideas about that dreaded enemy, writers’ block. – CG

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Beating Writers’ Block
by Jordan McCollum

The kids are in bed, the house is clean, you’ve spent some quality time with your spouse and you’ve watched your favorite show. Now it’s your time—time to write with nothing hanging over your head. You sit at your computer, fingers poised over the keys and—

Nothing happens.

What do you do? Spend the next two hours checking email and blogs, playing Text Twist and Minesweeper, coming back to your story every half hour without anything new to add and drifting away again until you can’t face your computer anymore and go to bed, strangely empty and guilty?

No! You don’t have to succumb to writers’ block—you can fight it, and you should. What makes a writer vs. a wannabe is perseverance (and the same is true about revisions, finding an agent, getting published, selling books, etc., etc.). Working through writers’ block makes you a stronger, better, more creative writer. And here are eight ways to do it.

Come up with more ideas
Easier said than done, I know, but try brainstorming new events and directions for your story. I recently came across an analysis of the story conference for Raiders of the Lost Ark. The surprising thing about this conference is the sheer volume of ideas—the writer, director and producer threw out ideas while brainstorming, not worrying about how outlandish or stupid they might sound—you never know if it could be made workable.

Recycle an old idea
Did you have an amazing plot twist you never got to use or used in another (preferably unpublished) work, or one you love in someone else’s story? Find a way to work that idea into this story. The mine cart chase scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom originally came from the conference for Raiders, but they didn’t use it there—an instant source for later ideas.

Look for more connections within your work
I got stuck in my latest WIP when I needed a task for my hero. He’d agreed to do something for the villain in exchange for a hostage, but I was drawing a blank. I tried to think of something he could send him after—but finally the right answer came to me. It shouldn’t just be something, it should be something related to the plot. And I had a subplot that could tie back into the main plot (and a minimystery that could be solved) right here.

Write something
You may have to take some time away from your WIP to get the creative juices flowing. You can work on another idea—writing or plotting or planning—or you can find writing prompts to get started. Sometimes focusing on another story idea will give you the boost or idea you need to progress in your first story—just don’t get sidetracked for too long!

Write nothing
Do something mindless—like playing Text Twist or Minesweeper, or doing house or yard work. Do something creative—if you play an instrument, practice. If you do a handicraft—knitting, needlework, woodcarving, knapping—make something. Occupying your hands while letting your mind roam can have great creative rewards.

Erase
As hard as this may be, maybe you’ve written yourself into a corner. Maybe there just isn’t anywhere for the story to go now, and you need to delete the last paragraph or scene or chapter. (Ouch!) Look at where your story took a turn for a dead end and brainstorm another direction.

Read (or watch)
Look for other ideas (and beautiful writing) in other works, in or outside of your genre. You can also watch a movie or TV show and play the “what if” game—what if something happened differently in this scene. (I came up with a whole story idea this way.)

Plot
You can often avoid getting stuck if you plan out where you’re going in advance. Not always, of course—I’m a plotter, and I can still get stuck in the gray areas of my outline. But back before I started plotting out my stories, I began with an ending in mind, but sometimes I spent weeks stopped in the middle, trying to figure out how to get there. Even loose plotting can help to keep the big milestones in mind to keep you moving toward your goals. Plus you can brainstorm in advance and save all those ideas for any lulls.

Beating writers’ block can be tough, but you can do it—and if you’re going to finish, you have to.

What do you think? How do you beat writers’ block?

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About the author
In addition to being an aspiring fiction author, Jordan McCollum works in Internet marketing. She is the editor of an Internet marketing news blog, Marketing Pilgrim, as well as the author of a blog on finding fulfillment in motherhood, MamaBlogga. She blogs about writing technique at JordanMcCollum.com. If ever she says anything about starting another blog, please shoot her!

Photo credits: paper ball—Mutasim Billah; empty page—flickrFelix.; I can’t think—Alyssa L. Miller

Advice for a Blogger (Me)

A pleasant surprise greeted me as I visited Jordan McCollum’s blog this morning — a review of my own blog. I am very grateful to have Jordan’s and Kathleen MacIver’s professional evaluation and suggestions. I’ll be giving them serious consideration and looking at ways to improve the effectiveness of how I communicate via my blogging. Drop by Jordan’s blog and see what they say. Then let me know what you think.


Why do you read my Musings? What other content would you like to find here?

Contemplating the Must-Haves of a Writing Website

In Nathan Bransford’s absence this week, his guest bloggers have been providing commentary on a variety of topics. Today Jordan McCollum wrote about “The Top 7 Things Every Aspiring Author’s Website Must Have.” I read it with interest, made a comment and slipped away to attend to non-computer things. But it wasn’t long before I was back at my computer.

 

Too many points in Jordan’s post niggled at me. According to her, the seven must-haves include a blog, social media, search engine presence, professional looking design, an ‘about’ page, a sample of the author’s work, and a contact page. I ticked off all the points and realized that my web presence is lacking most key features.

 

The only place it conforms is in having an ‘about’ page — but even that doesn’t provide a lot of information because when I first began blogging I was venturing into the public eye very cautiously and using my pseudonym. By using “Careann” I deliberately nullified the possibility of anyone finding me with a search for “Carol Garvin”. In fact, using my name in a search engine is likely to locate an artist and realtor in Florida!

 

Careann’s Musings was intended to be an informal personal blog. However if, as a writer, I put time and writing energy into it but gain none of the benefits, the value of my effort is minimized. So you’ll begin noticing subtle changes here as I uncloak the real me and provide opportunities for better visibility and networking. The new look will be gradual but it’s leading towards achieving more of those must-haves.