Friday, October 2, 2015

The Authorteers' Guide to Self-Publishing: Writer's Block and Other Setbacks

Welcome to a new series of posts on The Authorteers! When we first started our journey to being published indie authors, we did lots of research on how. There are numerous articles on practically everything related to the different aspects of writing and publishing. With as many steps as there are leading up to actually hitting publish on a finished manuscript, aspiring authors can often be overwhelmed with the process, sometimes to the point of giving up before they've even started.

To be completely honest, we were overwhelmed, too.

All five Authorteers decided we wanted to help aspiring authors achieve their goal of publishing their first book. We're going to break down each step in an easy-to-follow guide to self-publishing. We'll cover all the important details you need to know, including some specific things that we've personally learned through the years. It's our hope that you're able to use this guide to reach for the stars and accomplish your dream of getting published.

Writer's Block and Other Setbacks

Writer's block. It's inevitable. Not a single writer in the history of the world can claim they haven't experienced this at least once, if not multiple times. It can happen for all sorts of reasons. We're going to discuss three of the main reasons in this post.

"I can't seem to get motivated or inspired"

You're in the middle of your novel and you're about to head into a new scene when suddenly... nothing. You can't come up with anything to write. As a writer, that's probably one of the more frustrating moments. But don't fret! There are multiple ways to get around this. Here are a few...

Sometimes you're too close to the story, so hyperfocused that you can't think of anything new. This is where the classic methods of breaking writer's block come into play. Take a walk around the block or clean your house. Your mind won't feels as pressured since you're doing something else. Taking a step away for a little bit can help clear your head, refocus, and re-energize you when you go back to it.

If you get stuck on one scene, consider jumping ahead to the next scene if you know what happens next. Some writers will make a note at a scene to "add more later" or "kiss scene" or "argument happens" when the words aren't coming. That can be difficult if you're a linear writer, but often if you move on to something else, your mind will subconsciously work out the scene you couldn't write before later. It's better to get the words you know out than to stop entirely.

Authorteers Tip: Another suggestion is to create a playlist for your book or scene. Inspirational music can give you more of a feel for it and might help get you where you need to be.

"I'm not reaching my word count goals"

It's a great thing to set goals, but when you can't reach them it can get discouraging. You start thinking that you're never going to finish your book or that you're not accomplishing anything. But this isn't true at all! Here's why.

One thing to ask yourself: Is my writing goal too high? Every writer writes at a different pace. Some can write thousands of words per day, some can only write less than a hundred. Maybe it would be good to lower your goal. You can always work your way back up in small increments.

Don't ever think that if you can't reach certain goals that you aren't good enough. Yes, there are a decent number of authors that can hit very high word counts on a daily basis, but that is not for everyone. Comparing yourself to other authors isn't going to end well. It's great to look up to other authors and find inspiration from them, but you're not them and they're not you. Everyone works at their own pace, everyone has different stuff going on in their lives. Do what you can do--make realistic goals that work for you.

Something to bear in mind, too, is that you don't always have to meet a certain word count per day. There may be times when you need a day off, or when you can only get a paragraph or two written. And that's fine! You don't want to aim too high or have expectations that either burn you out or cause you to punish yourself for not accomplishing something.

Another suggestion is to find more time to write. Some writers only write at a certain time every day, but it might be good to see if you can squeeze in some writing time at a different time of day. Even just a fifteen minute increment between other activities can give you extra words. Don't be afraid to move some unimportant things around to make time to write. A little bit can go a long way!

"My words sound like crap"

Ever had one of those days when you write a terrible paragraph, look back on it and wonder if all your words up until that point are equally as terrible? You're absolutely not alone in this. Every single writer has done this at some point in their writing career, especially on first drafts.

If you're having doubts about your work, ask a trusted friend (like a critique partner) to read over it for you. They can let you know what they think and give you suggestions for improvements to make it sound better.

Remember that this is only your first draft. You won't be publishing it as is. First drafts are usually riddled with all sorts of errors and confusing sentences. You'll have plenty of time to fix it before it's ready to publish. First drafts are about getting the story out, even if the words aren't your best words. That's what editing is for. You can make your words pretty later!

Authorteers food for thought: Time, space, and perspective help immensely. Once you start revisions, you'll find your scenes falling into place easier. You may not be able to come up with the perfect sentence for that paragraph today, but one day you will. Be patient and believe in yourself and your words.

Importance of Support

One thing that all aspiring authors (and even published authors) need is support. The place you can find that support is online on either Facebook or Twitter. There are Facebook groups dedicated to encouraging fellow writers. And on Twitter, there are plenty of authors and writers you can chat with.

Here are some useful hashtags you can search for on Twitter that some of us at The Authorteers have used:

  • #amwriting
  • #amediting
  • #amrevising
  • #wordsprints
  • #writingsprints

You can also find a long list of other writing related hashtags here.

Finding other writers and authors to write with can keep the motivation going. Making friends with fellow writers is beneficial in lots of ways since you're both in the same boat--writing with the hopes of publishing. You already have that in common! And if you find a sprinting partner, that is great for productivity. Word sprints force you to put words down, even if they're crap. Because, let's face it, you can't edit a blank page!


So, there you have it! In two weeks, we'll be discussing Revisions.


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1 comment:

  1. Motivation is something that always gets me. Once I make myself do it and I get going I have no problem, but that first hump is tough to overcome.