Jul 072005
 

Dave has a short article on what he calls the “myth” of writer’s block. he writes

Okay. Here’s my key piece of advice for all new writers:

GET OVER THE WRITERS BLOCK MYTH

Really.

It’s a job, you’re a professional writer, and your task is to type, to put words down, to produce. Writer’s block is for fiction writers and hobbyists who enjoy the anguish and angst of “the creative process”. One of the very best things I ever learned about writing was from NJIT professor Peter Elbow’s books, that WRITERS WRITE.

It’s good advice. He suggests you sit down and write no matter what, and he suggests that blogs are a great exercise in this regard.

As an agent I see “blocks” that fall into a few categories, and this list doesn’t include large life changes such as divorce, death in the family, depression and the like, which can derail or delay any book project:

Anxiety

It’s one thing to pitch a book, it’s another to actually sit down and write it. Authors are unique in that they work very much alone and can be their own worst critics, anxious about every little detail. Anxiety can be a great tool that spurs you on to wonderful things in your life, but if you let it overwhelm you, you won’t get far. Save your anxiety for the re-write. Don’t over-edit while you’re writing your first draft, but be sure to edit it well before you send it along to your editor.

Know Your Audience

If you don’t know your reader you’ll be at sea. John Steinbeck once suggested to a young writer that he choose a specific person to write to, and he himself often wrote with his agent in mind. If you have a specific reader in mind you can engage in a much more meaningful connection, and with a more casual, direct voice. Pick your reader and you may find that the words flow more freely. Some of my clients have written to their mothers, isn’t that a nice thought?

You Need an Outline

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to have a hard time getting there. If you’re stuck on a chapter but have a great outline you can work on sections that are working for you and work back to the section that’s troubling you.

Master Your Sample Chapter

If you do everything you can to nail your style and voice in your sample chapter, you’ll have fewer problems along the way. If you’re working with a house that requires a unique style or approach, do your best to understand what your editor needs from the get-go and the entire process will be much smoother, and you’ll have a leg up on understanding your audience as well.

  •  July 7, 2005
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