Finding Treasure in Writer’s Block by Fred Waitzkin

 

 

Deep Water Blues image

 

 

Finding Treasure in Writer’s Block

By Fred Waitzkin

 

Young writers often ask if I am sometimes afflicted by writer’s block and if I’ve discovered a cure. Most writers wrestle with this malady from time to time.  Over the years my relationship to the illness has evolved, and as an older writer I see it as a frustrating companion who at times can offer profound advice.

All authors relish days feeling on fire with a story when sentences pour out, almost without effort or thought. They spill into paragraphs and pages. It feels like riding a magic carpet that will soar on forever. I call such periods, writing within the bubble. But then after days or weeks, inevitably, life gets in the way.

Consider this scenario:  I’m just home from a ten-day fishing trip, determined to get back to my manuscript when my grandson Jack begs me to take him to tomorrow’s Mets game. Instead of going to my office I take Jack to the game. We’re both excited as hell about our trip on the subway…. It’s okay. I’d been on a roll with my story. Another day won’t matter at all. As we rumble toward Mets stadium, I pleasantly recall the feeling of riding the carpet, the story pouring out of me…. I’ll be back there tomorrow.

The Mets lose. Jack cries, inconsolable in his new Mets cap as we’re leaving the stadium. “Why do the Mets always lose, Baba?”

I’m thinking about Jack’s sorrow and the Mets string of losing seasons. I’m disgusted with the Mets, a thickening edifice forming between me and my story.

Next morning I’m finally back in front of my computer after an eleven-day break. I take a look at my last chapter…. Pretty good. I sit at the computer waiting for the words to flow…. Nothing. I wait. Nothing. Four more days pass of nothing. I’m pulling what’s left of my hair. Now I’m living outside the bubble.

Okay, seven days of writer’s block. I’m back in my office at 9:30. I make a cup of tea. I pace around a little. I have a lunch date at 12:30. I’m looking forward to that. I stare at my Mac like it’s the enemy. I begin to pace around. I sip tea. I look at my computer. No way I’m sitting there to suffer any more. I snap on my old radio and listen to sports talk radio, a discussion about the Mets falling apart after a promising start to the season. Every year they do it. They cannot hit…. It’s now 11. I look at the computer, shake my head, no way. I pace in the hall. I come back into the office and read the paper. Now it’s 11:50. Almost time to leave for lunch. Not yet, Waitzkin, not yet. I stall another five minutes, pressure building. It’s twelve. Suddenly I throw myself into my chair in front of the keys. I need to leave my office for lunch in 18 minutes. It’s now or never…, and if I’m lucky, the dam breaks. Words pour out. I’m feverishly typing words that wouldn’t come for days. They are gushing out now when I hardly have time to write them, trying to catch them in the air like butterflies, get them into the machine… I’ve written some of my best paragraph this way, when it was do or die.

Another trick for writer’s block: I always carry around a tiny notebook in my shirt pocket. When I’m riding my bike home along the river, thinking about the Mets losing streak, an idea pops into my head. I stop the bike and jot it into the book. I’m talking to my wife Bonnie and an idea suddenly appears. I’m talking to my son. He shakes his head, annoyed, while I scrawl treasure into my notebook. “Dad never listens to me.”

Two days ago, I was stumped how to end an essay about my artist mother. I woke up after a two-hour nap and suddenly I could see the words hanging in the air in front of me. I wrote them in the notebook before they disappeared…. Carry a notebook. Just having it with you elicits ideas.

I wrote my new novel, Deep Water Blues, without once having writer’s block. It was pure bliss, beginning to end. I’d decided I was going to write a short book, 150 pages or less, something I could hold in my head without having to turn back to see what I’d written two or three years earlier. I was determined to write this one fast. And also, I’d gone into it after having written a screenplay, my first. I wanted this new book to move like a movie.

Deep Water Blues describes a gruesome disaster that takes place to a little island civilization—an island once gorgeous, and peaceful, almost Eden like, and in the aftermath, the island becomes decimated by greed, out-of-control ambition, violence and murder. At the heart of it, Deep Water Blues, which was inspired by true events, is an adventure story. I wanted to tell the story fast, fast and violent with no looking back, no flashbacks, mostly taut bold scenes as in riveting film…. Writing this book took me over like a runaway train.

There was no room for writer’s block in my new book. Pace and length and a harrowing story were the key elements. Maybe I’ll try that again.

 

 

Deep Water Blues image

 

Inspired by a true story, artfully told by the author of Searching for Bobby Fischer: A Bahamian island becomes a battleground for a savage private war.

Charismatic expat Bobby Little built his own funky version of paradise on the remote island of Rum Cay, a place where ambitious sport fishermen docked their yachts for fine French cuisine and crowded the bar to boast of big blue marlin catches while Bobby refilled their cognac on the house. Larger than life, Bobby was really the main attraction: a visionary entrepreneur, expert archer, reef surfer, bush pilot, master chef, seductive conversationalist.

But after tragedy shatters the tranquility of Bobby’s marina, tourists stop visiting and simmering jealousies flare among island residents. And when a cruel, different kind of self-made entrepreneur challenges Bobby for control of the docks, all hell breaks loose. As the cobalt blue Bahamian waters run red with blood, the man who made Rum Cay his home will be lucky if he gets off the island alive . . .

When the Ebb Tide cruises four hundred miles southeast from Fort Lauderdale to Rum Cay, its captain finds the Bahamian island paradise he so fondly remembers drastically altered. Shoal covers the marina entrance, the beaches are deserted, and on shore there is a small cemetery with headstones overturned and bones sticking up through the sand. What happened to Bobby’s paradise?

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

Fred Waitzkin image

 

 

Fred Waitzkin was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1943. When he was a teenager he wavered between wanting to spend his life as a fisherman, Afro Cuban drummer or novelist. He went to Kenyon College and did graduate study at New York University. His work has appeared in Esquire, New York magazine, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Outside, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast, among other publications. His memoir, Searching for Bobby Fischer, was made into a major motion picture released in 1993. His other books are Mortal Games, The Last Marlin, and The Dream Merchant. Recently, he has completed an original screenplay, The Rave. Waitzkin lives in Manhattan with his wife, Bonnie, and has two children, Josh and Katya, and two grandsons, Jack and Charlie. He spends as much time as possible on the bridge of his old boat, The Ebb Tide, trolling baits off distant islands with his family. His novel, Deep Water Blues, will be published in spring 2019. You can find more on Fred Waitzkin at his website or check out some exclusive content on Facebook.

 

fredwaitzkin.com | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

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Six Indie Mistakes to Avoid with Alessandre Torre

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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Six Indie Mistakes to Avoid (The Self Publishing Show, episode 169)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/selfpublishin…

 

CONFERENCE DISCOUNT: Go to https://www.inkerscon.com/dawson to save on conference registration, including the digital conference, from Inkers Con

 

LIVE EVENT: Mark will be speaking in June at Slaughter in Southwold – https://www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/ev…

 

 

 

 

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How To Write A Compelling Villain

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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How To Write A Compelling Villain (The Self Publishing Show, episode 163)

 

 

 

 

 

 

selfpublishingformula.com

markjdawson.com

sachablack.co.uk

 

 

 

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How to Write a Novel: Plot Gardening with Chris Fox and Joanna Penn

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

Old Classic Television In A Room

 

 

 

 

How to Write a Novel: Plot Gardening with Chris Fox and Joanna Penn

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

vintage black steam train

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips For Long-Term Author Success With Sherrilyn Kenyon & Joanna Penn

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

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80 Million Books Sold. Tips For Long-Term Author Success With Sherrilyn Kenyon

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO WAKE YOUR MUSE AFTER A “Rip Van Winkle” LIKE SLUMBER

Inspiration

 

 

HOW TO WAKE YOUR MUSE AFTER A “Rip Van Winkle” LIKE SLUMBER

 

After being bit by the “I’m going to write a book” bug, I blazed through five months and 113,000 words to create two separate stories. All the time I spent was filled with excitement and enthusiasm, feeling my ‘muse’ on my shoulder cheering me to the finish line.

As it turned out, I realized I was in a race on a very long course, not a drag strip. Completing the first 2 eBooks was just the beginning. As I wrote those stories, each chapter I completed filled my head with new ideas and plot twists for the follow-on story.

   After completing the second story to my second trilogy (that’s another by itself) I took the leap and decided to go the self-publish, print-on-demand route by placing my completed work on CreateSpace for all to hold if they so choose.

Unfortunately, while my artist and I struggled with a formatting issue on one of the covers, my ‘muse’ decided to take a nap as it were, without permission. I still had pages of notes and plotlines to work through on my fifth WIP, but my desire and motivation had left on the heels of my ‘muse’.

One thing I do to escape is to listen to music, and this is what I turned to in an attempt to coax my ‘muse’ to return. Thankfully I have an abundance of instrumental music to dive into, and so for several days, actually weeks, I would sit and listen, staring at the proverbial blank page of MS Word in the hopes something would jump out and stick.

My other trick I used in the past, and once again in this case, was rereading my previous work. After writing 3 individuals ‘chapters’, I create a new file allowing me to consolidate what I’ve completed. After this is done, I continue to add my completed pieces until I exceed my word count or page count, whichever comes first.

I’m happy to say, this works for me, but for others, I’m sure they have their own methods, tricks and secrets. In the end, it all comes down to one think, Keep Writing!

 

By Anthony Harrison

 

 

Man jumping on I can do it or I can't do it text over cliff on sunset background

Talking Writing Points with Ames Karas

Draft Preliminary First Attempt Try Word Stamp 3d Illustration

 

 

 

READ THIS FIRST

Starting Point:

Today is a writing day. This is about word production. Start at the beginning then go in chronological order. When finished, put the word count in the title. Change the icon to something awesome like a star or something.

 

STARTUP: Keep a legal pad handy for notes.

-What’s my goal for today’s writing session?

-Word count by 15 minute increment.

-Doubts about my character.

-Doubts about my fictional characters.

-Doubts about the direction of the scene.

-Possible fixes.

-Questions about the next scene.

-Any other interrupting thoughts.

 

Then at the end of a writing session:

-What did I accomplish? Yay me!

-What should I do before next writing session?

-What will I write next?

-Review these notes before the next Day’s writing.

 

NOW CRUMPLE IT UP AND THROW IT AWAY! YAY!

KEEP IN MIND WHILE WRITING:

-Why do I love writing?

-What is my story about in a paragraph?

 

 

 

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Act 1 is a bitch.

It took me 2 years to write Act 1 of my recently completed WIP Winded Embers. It took 7 months to write Act 2.  

Act 3 took less than a week.

 

Act 1 seems daunting because there are multitudinous variables to organize and implement. You must answer questions like: What does this character want? Why does he want it? Who is in his way? Why?

I’ll stop now lest I begin sobbing. You will revise so breathe.

 

That is just what comes from the story. Never forget, humans are pre-fabricated with self-doubt and anxiety. This is extra true for creatives who must essentially get naked in public. Accusation and questions will flood you while you write.  

 

What if I suck and have to re-write the entire thing? Wow, am I screwed up for writing about this? Who am I going to offend by writing? Worse, I am not going to offend anyone? Am I writing garbage that doesn’t mean anything?

 

In my experience (limited though it is) stories tend to come more easily when unimpeded by Writer’s block. Industry secret: Writer’s block= personal problems.

Here is my advice on surviving the production of act 1.

Create a positive writing habit (more on this in “go Analog”).

 

Recruit allies. Writer buddies can shut down your self-doubt and make you work better. There are some questions you cannot answer about your own book. Knowing you have beta readers creates a mental toilet for the questions you can’t answer. “Is my character relatable?” I have Betas for that. ::FLUSH::  

 

Go Analog. never underestimate the power of paper. Physically setting down a noisome idea is underrated. Nothing gets rid of negative thoughts like a pad of paper. Little in this world is as satisfying as crumpling said thoughts and winging them across the coffee shop into the waste basket. I’m just sayin’

Below is my warm-up. I needed it while writing Act 1.  KEY: This worked for me. Use what works for YOU!

Now go write and be awesome, you writer you.

Ames Karas   candor.amykaras.com

 

 

 

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Self-Publishing Formula: Indie Authors, Marketing & Publishing

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

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Indie Publishing with James & Jeanette Hunter

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Where it Starts by Author Margot Kinberg

Undecided businessman weighing his choice

 

 

This is Where it Starts

 

Thanks so much for having me here, Benjamin! It’s a privilege. One of the things that many writers struggle with is how to begin their stories. And that’s not just a problem for new writers, either. Even very experienced writers can find that first bit of a story to be a challenge.

There are lots of different ways to get started, and no one way is ‘the right way.’ So, I can just share the approach that’s worked for me. I write crime fiction, and, most of the time, that means that at least one character is going to get killed. The thing is, though, that most of us couldn’t imagine taking a life. So, if a story’s going to be believable, there has to be something about the victim that gives someone a compelling reason to kill.

That’s one reason I start my stories by introducing the victim in some way. I want readers to get a sense of who this person is (or was). Then, I hope I can convince them that this is a plausible murder victim. Starting a story with the victim also gives me the chance to make that character seem like a real human being. This, I hope, invites the reader to engage in the story.

I’ve used different strategies to introduce the victim. In my first two novels, the first sentence of the story takes us into the victim’s life. Here, for instance, is the first sentence of B-Very Flat:

‘Serena Brinkman smiled as she took a deep breath of the crisp October air.’

The next sentences place Serena on the campus of (fictional) Tilton University, where she is a student. Then, she encounters other characters, and readers get a sense (I hope) of what her relationships with those characters are, and why she would become a victim.

In my second two novels, the victim’s basically dead before the story really starts (although in one, the victim dies in the prologue). Those novels begin as the victim’s death is discovered, and the police, as well as my sleuth, Joel Williams, start to ask questions. That approach lets me offer the ‘hook’ of a murder case to the reader, and still lets me introduce the victim as the case is investigated.

There are, of course, lots of other ways to start a story and invite readers to engage themselves. Some crime writers introduce a story with the sleuth. Others start with a particularly compelling setting or incident. I do it by introducing the victim, but there really is no one ‘correct’ approach. As long as the story gets the reader’s attention, that’s what matters.

Thanks again for hosting me, Benjamin!

 

 

Margot Kinberg

 

 

About Margot Kinberg

 

Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kinberg graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then moved to Philadelphia, which Kinberg still considers home.

Kinberg had always been fascinated by crime fiction and mystery novels. In fact, she became an “addict” while still in her teens. So in 2007, she began her fiction writing career with her debut novel, Publish or Perish. In that novel, Kinberg put her experience in the world of higher education to use in creating a murder mystery that takes place at fictional Tilton University. This story introduces Joel Williams, a former police detective-turned-professor, who teaches in Tilton University’s Department of Criminal Justice. In this first outing, Williams helps solve the murder of a graduate student. The second in Kinberg’s Joel Williams series is B-Very Flat, in which Williams helps to solve the murder of a young violin virtuosa who dies suddenly on the night of an important musical competition. Kinberg’s third Joel Williams novel, Past Tense, begins when a set of bones is discovered at a construction site on campus. This case ties in with a missing person case from 1974.

Kinberg, who now lives with her family in Southern California, is currently at work on her fourth Joel Williams novel.

WebsiteAmazon | Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plotter or Pantser? What’s Your Style? I Think I’m a Binge Writer

writing

 

 

Plotter or Pantser? What’s Your Style? I Think I’m a Binge Writer

 

 

Thank you so much for letting me stop by for a visit on your blog. I love to talk about books and writing.

Writers usually fall into one of two camps, plotters (those who plan, plot, and outline before writing), and pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants). Plotters know the path and the plan to get to the end. Pantsers go where the characters and story takes them.

I am probably a hybrid of the two, though I lean heavily on the plotter side. I plot everywhere. I jot ideas on sticky notes and on scraps of paper. I carry a notebook in my purse for plotting emergencies.  I have outlines, character biographies, and color-coded storylines.  I keep a chart of all the places and characters. I describe them to the nth degree. This is also helpful if you decide to write a series. That way, my character’s eye color or the color of her kitchen doesn’t change in a later work.

I also use this to take care of my urge to write backstory. I put all the details in this document. Some of the information will never see the light of day, but it keeps me from overloading the story with too much history. Backstory or historical details are better sprinkled in throughout the work.

After my major plotting, I’m ready to start writing. And that’s when the pantser raises its head. I always decide I like a minor character better than another, and sometimes the story takes a tangent. In my first novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes (May 2016), I planned to keep one character around for the series to create some tension. But as it turned out, I liked another character much better, and his role took on a life of its own. So, without spoiling the surprise, character two is around for book two.

 

 

GPS Navigation auf Stadtplan

 

 

After the plotting and the first draft, which my friend Mary Burton calls the “sloppy copy,” I am ready to revise. This phase takes me the longest. I can write pretty quickly once I get started, but it takes me forever to reorder, change, and revise. And what I think is chapter one during the writing stage, never ends up that way in the final, published version.

I try to write every day, but it doesn’t always happen. I work full-time in IT, and sometimes the only thing I wrote in a week were performance evaluations and budget recommendations. Life gets in the way. I’m much happier when I stopped beating myself up about writing and hitting daily word counts. I write when I can. I binge write. I get up at 5:00 AM and write or do my social media promotion before work. I write at lunch. My coworkers tease me when I write in the cafeteria (but they always want to know who dies in the next book). I write a lot on my days off, weekends, and holidays.

You need to decide what works for you and create your style. It is harder to pick up your writing after you’ve been away for a while, but you need to balance your writing with everything else in your life. The best advice that I’ve received throughout the years is to be persistent and keep writing if you want to be published.

 

Persistence arrow with beach background

 

 

 

Heather Weidner image

 

 

Author Biography

Heather Weidner, a member of SinC – Central Virginia and Guppies, is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She has a novella included in To Fetch a Thief (November 2018).

Heather lives in Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers, Disney and Riley. She’s been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew.

Some of her life experience comes from being a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, IT manager, and cop’s kid. She blogs at Pens, Paws, and Claws.

 

Synopsis

Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.

The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.

 

 

 

Contact Information

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Pens, Paws, and Claws Blog: http://penspawsandclaws.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner

Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003

 

Book Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077CSZ53X

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1310643581

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-tulip-shirt-murders-heather-weidner/1127425899?ean=2940155054696

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-tulip-shirt-murders

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/363967058/The-Tulip-Shirt-Murders-The-Delanie-Fitzgerald-Mysteries-2

24Symbols: https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=2468512

Playster: https://play.playster.com/books/10009780999459812/the-tulip-shirt-murders-heather-weidner

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36591325-the-tulip-shirt-murders?from_search=true