I was recently asked how I get over the inevitable case of writer's block.

Merriam-Webster defines writer's block as:


noun

: the problem of not being able to think of something to write about or not being able to finish writing a story, poem, etc.


Some writers think it's a verb, and they are physically being blocked by something that needs to be removed.

There are many written accounts of how writers try to get themselves over this challenge, and plenty of tricks and tips to read and study should you be afflicted by the dreaded block. Many writers will go for a walk, or go people watching at the mall, or maybe write in a different book.  I don't do any of those things.

You see, for whatever reason, I don't suffer from writer's block.

The challenge I face is making time to write. The writing part, well I'm just telling someone else's story, and I cannot seem to get it out of my head fast enough.

Sure, there are times when I am conflicted about my writing, but at these times I'm generally trying to decide how much of the story to tell, how much to let the reader just discover, and whether or not there should be more or less information in the current book.

The world I am currently writing about exists in my mind. I know that might sound a little psychotic, but I really do believe that somewhere, maybe in an alternate dimension or just in a corner of my mind, the Aren and it's occupants really do exist.

You see I dream about their activities.  I see them as characters with lives — they suffer, they experience joy, they grow old and they die.  They have relationships, friends and enemies. They are hurt by the things that other's say and do, and they experience the world in ways that I can only dream about - literally.

I don't consider myself a writer as much as I do a story teller.  There is a difference, and for some it may be slight, but for me it makes all the difference in my work.

Some writers can make you smell the coffee with their words. They take you away to another world of sights and sounds, as well as the feelings and experiences of their characters, and put you in their world.  They show and don't tell in their work, so you are immersed in the characters.  Often these stories have a single point of view, a single storyline or arc, and the writer works very hard on the words themselves. They can also get blocked when they run out of ways to tell you what is happening.

I, on the other hand, am a story teller.  My goal is to share with you the stories that my characters experience, and this results in a different type of writing than what you get from a writer.

Am I a writer then?  In a practical sense, sure. But it's more accurate I think to call myself an author and a story teller.

You will find my stories have more than one viewpoint, more than one story line or arc, and that these all tie together in the grander scheme of things. My narrator often knows how more than one character in a scene feels, and can explain their actions without putting you inside their head. It's considered third person omniscient writing and pooh-poohed by many writers.

That's OK. I'm not a writer. I'm a story teller. 

I did not study English Literature in college. I was not an English major whose thesis was on the inner workings of dialog in the sonnets of William Shakespeare. Others did, and I'm happy they enjoyed that part of their education.

What does that mean for my writing?  I will have problems with grammar. I will occasionally use the wrong word, though you should still get my meaning.  I will often tell and not show, because my narrator knows what's inside the heads of the characters as he tells you the story.  I will use a comma where I should use a semicolon, and sometimes my sentences will run on and on and on.... when they could be shorter, more concise, and probably easier to read.

When my editor gets my manuscript, she tears it apart and tells me all sorts of things that I did wrong. That's OK. That's what I pay her for.  She is an English major, takes pride in her ability to diagram a sentence in her sleep, and will tell me if my sentence lacks structure, if I have a linking verb with a complement, or a dangling participle...

I write dialog that matches the way my characters speak.  People in the real world, even in the imaginary world, don't speak in perfectly structured sentences.  Well my editor does, but she is the exception that proves the rule.  My characters don't either, and I try to maintain a balance of readability and accuracy when portraying what they say.

How does all this lead back to writer's block?  Well I think in many cases, writers get blocked because they think too much about structure, and not enough about telling their story.  I am always thinking about telling the story, and the structure comes later.  Hemingway understood this, and was generally quoted to say that writing occurred in a spontaneous block of creation, and not sculpted with precision.  I believe that tying to do the latter leads many writers to suffer from.... you guessed it. Writer's block.

My first draft would be enough for you to get what I'm trying to say, and to engage you in the story and endear you to my characters - love them or hate them.  Then come the edits.  I've explained my process in other blog posts, but I'll say again that ever chapter gets edited at least four times end to end before it goes to the beta readers, then it gets edited again after I get their feedback, and THEN it goes to my editor so she can tear it apart and tell me how much I suck at being a writer.

I take some of her feedback directly.  I dismiss some of it as not me, and not going into my book.  As a self-published author, that's one of my prerogatives. I don't turn over the approval of the final content to a publisher. I am the publisher — for positive or ill effect.

I want to take this time to thank all of you who enjoy my stores.  Your support has been more than I could have ever expected, and you are why I'm continuing to write whenever I get the chance. I will continue to tell the stories of Peter and Alexandra, as well as a full set of characters you have not even met yet.  As long as you come with me, I have more stories to tell.  It will be an adventure we can both share, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy bringing it to you. Dangling participles and all.

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