Writing Tips: Overcoming Creative Blocks

Can you relate to this scenario?

Imagine that the planets have aligned. The stars are twinkling and shining bright over your Muse. The inspiring energy of the waxing moon has fueled your creative well and you are at the top of your writing game.
Then, in the next instant, you’re drawing a blank. Suddenly, your words have hit a brick wall, your characters are giving you the evil-eye and the stars have forsaken your Muse for a glitzy night out on the town in New York City. And you weren’t invited.

Sound familiar?

These are the moments that define us as writers; when we realize that we cannot always rely on the Muse to get creative. So, when the Muse has left us high and dry, we need a back-up plan. One that allows us to explore and engage our imaginative resources dwelling in the creative realms.

I’m going to share an alternative methods that I use to tap into my higher-creative mind.

Understanding the Higher Mind for Creativity
To understand how we can deliberately access the depths of the higher mind, we must first understand that the human mind has many layers. Cognitive neuroscientists claim that only five percent of our brain is conscious while the rest lies beyond our awareness.

The conscious mind rules rational thought and language, as well as logical processing, while the unconscious mind thinks in the expression of form such as images, memories, underlying desires and creativity.

It is the unconscious part of the mind that holds many keys to the lasting power of creativity. Creativity takes courage. As writers, we yearn to tell stories; to express a sacred part of ourselves and share it with the world.When we connect to our natural creative resources, we are actually tuning into the unconscious part of our minds; this is where we discover the pathways that lead us to glorious realms – the highest part of ourselves that defines our existence – the obscure and mystic higher-creative mind.

Raise your Vibration

It is well-established that when we raise our level of vibration, we attract influences from higher realms. While we don’t know for certain where artistic inspiration originates, this wondrous resource is available to us all and is the cornerstone of all creation. The higher the frequency of your energy or vibration, the lighter you feel in your physical, emotional and mental bodies. By raising your vibration, you become more in touch with your higher self.

Practice raising your vibration by:

1. Connect with nature – there is nothing like curling your toes between grainy sand, or feeling the soft blades of grass folding beneath your bare feet. Don’t roll your eyes and frown, because guess what? Getting intimate with the earth is like tapping into a natural reservoir of electric energy. That’s right, the earth is equipped to absorb negative energy as well as supply what is needed to achieve homeostasis in our bodies. In short, stepping on the ground electrically balances you!

2. Explore your inner-world through free writing – free writing is to the mind what yoga is to the body. Allowing your thoughts to run free without restriction through your writing develops and fosters your writing abilities, as well as drives inspiration. In addition to promoting good writing habits, free-writing unearths emotional themes and can shatter those invisible barriers stifling creative expression.

3. Contemplate your divinity and reflect – without getting too enigmatic, it is amazing the revelations available to us when we take the time to ponder the mystery of life and our connection to all that is. It is in the small, quiet moments when you’re digging your toes in the sand and gazing at the ocean, or just sitting beneath the sun and appreciating its warmth that you connect with a higher energy, thus, raising your own vibration. Acknowledging and becoming aware of your connection to the universe cannot be underestimated.
Sue Powers also is an accomplished short story writer. She has a book of stories entitled A Surprising Measure of Subliminal Sadness that is seeking a publisher. She is also writing a mystery yet to be titled.

Writing a Good Book

Anyone can write a book, and with the advent of print-on-demand publishing, anyone can publish a book. But not everyone can write and publish a good book, because it takes more than being able to navigate a keyboard to become a good writer.

Aids to becoming a good writer:

• Strunk & White’s the Elements of Style. A classic reference book on grammar and composition. Only 43 pages long.

• On Writing, by Stephen King. King’s book delves into the basic building blocks of writing a book, including vocabulary, grammar, the sentence, and the paragraph.

• The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, 3rd Edition, by Christopher Vogler. This is a book that explores the hero’s journey and each step he must go through to reach the elixir, a metaphor for what the hero brings back from his journey. The most basic hero’s journey is illustrated by the first Star Wars movie. Luke begins in the original world, receives the call to adventure, refuses the call, meets the mentor, answers the call and goes forward into the adventure.

• Myth and the Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Unforgettable Movies, by Stuart Voytilla. This is a fun way to understand the hero’s journey by examining familiar movies. You’ll never watch movies the same way again.

• Read, read, read. Especially read books in the genre you write in. If your book is science fiction, read Jules Verne and contemporary writers, too. If you write mysteries, read them. If you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have time to write, either.

If you don’t want to educate yourself, and you’d rather just “pound this sucker out.” That’s fine. You can find someone to pay to publish it for you. Put a copy in your bookcase and tell your friends you’re a published writer. The thing is, though, there isn’t a market for bad books. Nobody wants to read them and they certainly don’t buy them.

If you want to be a good writer who produces books that people enjoy reading and buying, do the work. Figure it out. Get the help you need. Be relentless and you will be successful.

Patricia Childers is an Editorial Development Editor at Foggy Bottom Books. She can be reached at pat@foggybottombooks.com.

I’m Writing a Mystery

If you think it’s easy to write a short story day after day, think again. Which is why I’m writing a a mystery, TWIST. Actually, it’s my second mystery. The first one I didn’t think was good so I moved it to a place where I didn’t see it.

In my second mystery, Tine and Thomas are the main characters. Tine’s friend, Bonnie, has been murdered and Thomas broke his leg, so although Tine is a writer, Tine has to proceed as if she were Thomas, the actual Private Investigator.

Tine dumped her boyfriend and now has a new guy, Carl who is a cop. She’s need information and Carl won’t give to her. So she has to find a way to get from him. Carl is a policeman and wants to keep his ethics intact. You have to read a book where the police are the main characters in order to do this because police work is very technical.

I know I should have plotted out the chapters. But that’s not how I write.

I can’t reveal the ending, although I know how it ends.

If you want to comment, go ahead.
I have an array of publishing credits. Among my favorites are Saturday Evening Post, New Millennium Writings, Blue Earth Review, Funny in Five Hundred, Another Chicago Magazine, Happy, Facets, The Writer’s Place 34th Parallel and Samizdada. I am a recipient of a fellowship and grant from the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship and Grant in Prose, and two of my stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

My book of stories, A Surprising Measure of Subliminal Sadness, is still seeking a publisher.

Capturing Your Ideas

Every person has had more than one moment where a brilliant idea pops into his or her mind. Sadly, if we don’t capture those ideas quickly they may be forgotten in the busy rush of life.

When a writer is crafting her next bestselling book, capturing creative ideas on the fly is often the greatest author challenge. The last thing you want is a missed opportunity at creating something special.

What if you are out for a run and forgot what you were thinking when you arrived at your residence? For writing consistency, one must remember and capture those fleeting moments.

When you have that next idea in mind, here are ways to capture it quickly, before your thoughts move on to something else:

• Keep paper and a pen or pencil handy and write down your ideas.
• Type up your ideas on your computer
• Use Google Notes to capture your ideas.

I also read a great deal. If I didn’t, I would never write anything down. Reading provides me with ideas for my writing. I’m currently reading Sue Grafton’s I is for Innocent. Ms. Grafton is funny and sometimes she’s profound, but she knows how to write a mystery. I’m keeping notes on how she does it.

If you have other ideas, please comment.
I’m writing a mystery called TWIST. Not finished yet.

Why Do I Bother

It seems to me only one or two people like my blog. Which makes me wonder why I bother blogging?

If you’re an author, you’re told to have a blog. Why? So when you’re book is published people can buy your book from your blog.

I haven’t found that way yet. I hope I do.
My book of stories, A Surprising Measure of Subliminal Sadness, is still looking for a publisher.

A Compilation of Psychic Readings

What happened to you recently…no, I don’t want to bring anything to you, though I sense in your heart that you know I’m did want to see if these unfortunate circumstances.

Last Sunday I set aside some time to draw a special Tarot card. I can tell you right now that my expectations have been great. They (along with something special I’ve discovered) have given me great hope for a fantasy very soon, in fact!

Here is what the cards have to say about you:
1st card from the left: The Past – what has brought you.

I was happy to see the Ten of Cups manifest for you, an overall feeling of immense happiness. It most often symbolize emotional turmoil is about to be resolved.

Considering this, I found it slightly odd that it appeared in your past – my explanation here is that happiest moments (although channeled sufficient positive energy to bring you in relation to the above, the Ten of Cups represents you to press on despite the odds.) Your fortitude has allowed recognition and success to materialize in your life, and the spread dispels any doubt about that.

2ND CARD – The Future – what is in store for you.

The Seven of Cups is closely tied to your happiness – emotional sense. Family and loved ones are about to add to your daily life. On the other hand, the Seven of Cups also warn not to dwell on past successes, but instead channel that end, achieving your goals in the future.

Indeed, the Seven of Cups is all about reconciling with order to leave them behind. This does not mean that the past action returning to you as a sort of test. For example, past wrongs you enacted on somebody, or those who you haven’t spoken to in a long time to forgive their wrongs.

The ‘test’ is extremely in tune with what I’ve discovered.

3RD CARD: Hidden influences – can anything interfere?

My friend… your lucky period is fast approaching!

Boohoo hope you’d call me, answer is this…boy what a case for biz. Manipulate people by using generally known ideas. To get you to call. Tells me they read same way. General. Not 100% real ability But money making biz. Hugs.

We discovered an unexpected information, and we don’t know what to do with it.

It took us nearly a week, but we decided to tell you.
After all, it concerns you. It’s a sign someone warned us just in time about what was happening you.

We immediately did a special tarot draw for you, and what we saw was very surprising!
But now, we don’t know what to do with this special information.

You will have a choice to make, and this choice won’t be easy.

The next week will be a milestone for you! We have revelations to make to you, and the revelations can change everything in your life, but it is urgent to act.

You have some good reasons to be happy and we will show you why!
I doesn’t necessarily believe in these psychics. But I still read them. Why not? They might come true:)

Why I’m Not Writing Now

In a word: Distraction.

Who can concentrate when you’re moving this coming Thursday morning. It’s a house (4305 Howard, Skokie) with a small living room, small dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms, two baths, a basement and a garage and of course a back yard. I don’t think this will be the only house we buy. Mainly because of the living room that’s tiny, tiny but will fit some of our furniture.

There are expenses attached to buying a house. New towels, a table, chairs and umbrella, towel hangers, taxes we need to pay, etc. etc. We did sell our condo, but there is the inspection. On the day of the inspection, our microwave broke. Now the microwave is attached to the wall so we couldn’t un-attach it. And one of the garage door openers broke. That was a quick fix. But the microwave is another matter. We did hire someone to come out this week. Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the results of the inspection and whether the buyer will still buy our condo.

I started to write a short story, but there is packing and moving the packing to be done.

Now I need to continue packing. Thank goodness it’s cool outside. Yesterday was way too hot to move anything into the house. But today is a good day to move some things into the house.

After we moved our things into the house, we went to the Emily Oaks Nature Center. There I took pictures of the beautiful trees, the trail and the water. Then I posted them on Facebook. Who saw them? Only can only guess.
Sue Powers is an accomplished short story writer. She has had many publications, including Saturday Evening News, New Millennium Writings, Blue Earth Review and many others. She is a recipient of a fellowship and grant from the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and two of her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

How to Make Setting a Character

For myself (and many writers I know), character or plot usually take the top spot. Setting usually doesn’t. Humans connect with other humans, after all, so it’s often easier to invest oneself in characters and their conflicts. A setting, though still important, is a bit more difficult to connect with. If you’re one of those writers who struggle with setting, I’d like to share with you an approach that might help by treating our setting like a character.

No, that doesn’t mean we’re going to write pithy one-liners for our setting (though that does sound kind of cool, now that you mention it). Instead, we’ll explore how to assign vivid characteristics to our settings, how to suggest those characteristics to readers, and how to develop our setting’s arc.

Exploring Your Setting’s Characteristics

Eddard Stark is honorable. Atticus Finch is courageous. Amy Elliott Dunne is dangerously cunning.
Memorable fictional characters always have strong characteristics. How can we translate such characteristics to setting?

Let’s start with the basics.When creating characters, you should ask yourself:
What does this character look like? What is this character’s backstory? What does this character want? What secrets does this character hold? What is this character’s conflict?

Most writers begin with question one, usually using a few sentences to set the scene. It’s the most basic aspect of setting and likely the most obvious.

To address this question through the character lens, let’s imagine what our setting might look like as a character. Are they young or old, rugged or refined, diminutive or enormous?

Better yet, is there an existing character in your book who personifies your setting?

An excellent example comes from my own book. The book’s main setting is cold and filled with snow. It’s cold because the mystery starts out as cold (i.e. we don’t have a clue how it’s going to end.) As the main character finds clues, it gets warmer outside because the main character is getting closer to finding out how to solve the mystery.

This one may or may not apply to your setting but it’s a potent addition when it works. Consider the secrets hidden within the country house of Bly in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. A setting within a secret is just as compelling as any secretive character.

Great characters have conflicts, and so do great settings. For instance, take the war-torn city of Osgiliath in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This location provides a visual representation of the greater conflict in the series; what was once a thriving city of humans is now a smoking ruin overrun by orcs.

Suggesting a Setting’s Characteristics
I’ll bet you’ve heard of show, don’t tell. It’s a fine rule of thumb though it need not always be followed. For example, it’s often acceptable to describe a character’s appearance rather than conveniently have them peer into a mirror. The same goes for describing a setting.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had written this: “The Forbidden Forest was super creepy.” That doesn’t scare anybody! She made it creepy by showing us the centaurs, werewolves, giant spiders, and more that roamed within.
So how can you do the same for your settings? Here are a few tricks.

For starters, allow yourself to “tell” in your first draft. Let’s say you’re writing a story set in a small town during winter. In the first draft, you might simply write, “The town was cold.” We forgive you. It’s just a first draft!

In your second draft, return to those blunt descriptions and decide how to show coldness rather than tell it. Describe the ice hanging from the eaves of the houses, the slippery snow packed upon the sidewalks, the breath hissing from your characters’ mouths. You haven’t used the word “cold” anywhere, yet the suggested meaning is clear.

Furthermore, having one character describe another is an effective way to suggest characteristics. This works just as well with settings.

Finally, show your setting’s traits through action. Cormac McCarthy didn’t just tell us the world was dangerous in The Road. He showed it by populating that world with ashes, marauders and cannibals. If your setting is trying to kill your protagonists, it’ll feel more like a character.

Developing the Arc of Your Setting
Characters have arcs. So, like characters, great settings often have arcs as well. This might sound like an odd concept at first, but it really can make a difference in your writing.

To build your setting’s arc, consider what your setting is like at the beginning of the story, what it becomes by the end, and what happens in the middle to make it so.

Maybe you start with an idyllic pastoral country which ends up ravaged by war. Or your post-apocalyptic wasteland might be restored to beauty by the heroics of your protagonist. Or perhaps your setting stays just the way it always was despite what happened in the middle. Whatever arc you choose, it should improve your setting.

Lastly, do you consider the characteristics of your settings when you’re writing? Please leave your thoughts below.

My Addictions

It’s not alcohol, cigarettes, heroin or any other illegal drug…. it’s word games!

You would think I was addicted to Writing. But that’s my passion. Word games are my addictions. One game is Lexulous – a Facebook word game. I love this game and each morning I play it. Lexulous, which is similar to Scrabble, offers two dictionaries. One is the US dictionary; the other is the UK dictionary. The UK dictionary offers many more two-letter words such as CH, KY, NY, FY, plus longer words that aren’t in the US dictionary. Plus, when you play Lexulous you’re allowed to use the dictionary while you’re playing.

Another word game is Wordcrasher. I find it’s hard to play Wordcrasher on my phone so I play it on my computer. There’s also Soltaire to which I’ve become addicted. I’ve won (I think it’s rigged) many times and for some reason I’m addicted to it.

There are other games such as the card games Monopoly Deal, Karma and the word game Quiddler that I enjoy.

If you love word games, let’s play together. But watch out – you could become addicted!
Sue Powers is an accomplished short story writer. Her most recent publication was in Saturday Evening Post. She has now written a mystery entitled TWIST and is currently writing another mystery.