jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
It's nearly here! After several months of work and a few data crashes, the Motivation course is going to go live on my website tomorrow.

I know that I've said that I think this course will help you, no matter who you are. Let me tell you why.

I have known as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a writer. I remember being in high school, and writing reams and reams of paper. The very first novel I ever wrote and completed was a Star Trek: DS9 fanfic - I figured I could get it published as a novel tie-in, if I could just polish it up enough. A friend of mine read it for me, and my next novel, which was a truly horrific vampire novel. And the next. I think that one had aliens in it. It was also terrible.

Then I hit university and my focus shifted to fanfiction. And somewhere along the line, I stopped writing completely. I knew I still wanted to write. I spent hours roleplaying online, writing shared stories with other people, but I felt totally unmotivated to actually write. It felt like work. I still had my passion, but any time it came time to write something down without working from the prompt of another person, I just never seemed to get around to it.

I tried NaNoWriMo a few times, and fizzled out after a few days every time. After five years of basically nothing, I was facing down the death of my dream, and wondering if maybe writing was just too hard for me. I wondered if I just couldn't do it.

Then I started learning and applying the kinds of techniques that I've put in the course. Most of all, I applied the technique that I mentioned in my last post - I remembered what I loved about writing, what I wanted out of life, and I focused on that rather than my fear.

I started writing, and I've never looked back. That was 10 years ago, and I am more sure than ever that writing is what I want to do, what I can do, and what I will do full time, someday.

That's why I know these techniques are good. Because they ended my 5 years of writer's block, and they have stood the test of time.

Now it's your turn, and I'm looking forward to having you come along with me on this journey.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo)
I wrote chapter three, another 1878 words, for a total of 6160 words.

I was struggling with this one a little bit. My outline said that Nyla meets a particular character, and locates a particular place - a gaming store - which will be very important for the series. However, I was having a lot of trouble writing the scene, because while I knew the goals I needed to hit, I didn't have any conflict for the scene.

Thankfully, I managed to push through. I came up with enough of a conflict to carry the scene, wrote some nice conversations, and introduced two characters I hadn't intended to introduce so soon - but it actually works better that way.

It wasn't something I thought of before I sat down to write. When I sat down, I didn't know how I was going to make it through the scene. But I think that's a good lesson. One of the things I often struggle with is the desire to know the shape of a scene before I sit down to write it, and if I don't know how I'm going to fix the problems I see, I hesitate to start.

So today's tip: Even if you feel like you're heading into fog, write your way to a solution. You can always tighten up the scene later, but if you just keep writing, feeling your way through, moving back and forth as you figure out the problems, you will find a solution.

Just start, and don't stop.
jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
Writer's block is something that I've written about before, but no list of writing tips is complete without addressing it.

Personally, I wouldn't go so far as to say that writer's block doesn't exist. But I do think that it is not a mystical, uncontrollable force. It can be overcome. It can be beaten.

There are two main reasons why writer's block happens, at least in my experience.

1. When something has gone awry in the story.

2. Negative self-talk - aka, the Inner Editor has struck.

If the problem is the first, then it's caused by your subconscious. You know that something is going off, that perhaps there's a big plot hole that you've created, or you know on some level that you're painting yourself into the corner.

I've been affected by this many times. Sometimes it takes me a day to get through the problem, sometimes longer. The main way to avoid it is to recognize it when it's happening, and then to go back through the most recent developments in a draft, to see where things are going wrong. I usually have to back up a few steps and move things in a different direction.

On the other hand, if the Inner Editor has convinced you that writing is far too difficult to move on with and it's best to just catch up on Game of Thrones, then it's you're stuck in a far more difficult situation. It's not writer's block - it's negative self-talk. The only way to beat it is with positive reinforcement.

Write a little, even if it's hard. Tell yourself that writing is fun, that it doesn't matter even if the writing is bad - that you can always fix it later. Tell yourself whatever it takes, but write something. Even if it seems terrible, it's better than nothing.

The best way to beat writer's block, is to write.
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
Mortis Unbound is now up online and rolling and I'm working each day on trying to get reviews and get the word out without being utterly obnoxious about it. So my plan was to get back to The Dreaming and get that draft finished.

I'm about 80,000 words into the novel and it's about 3/4 done. But I've been trying to get back into it for about two months, and it's been a struggle. Part of that struggle has been life-related - the stress of buying a house and some work-related stress of trials and craziness that took a lot of energy. It's hard to keep up on writing every day when all you want to do when you get home is collapse on the couch and watch Lost. (Yeah, I'm a bit behind on pop culture).

But after a lot of thinking, I've come to the conclusion that there's more going on here than life stress.

Last week, I listened to an episode of Writing Excuses, a podcast I've kept up with pretty religiously over the last four years. Dan Wells was talking about his new novel, Hollow City, which has a lot of things in common with Dreaming. As I was listening to what he was saying, I realized that there's quite a few things about the novel that just aren't coming out the way I want them to. A lot of things that are making me dissatisfied with how it's coming together.

Now, I could plough through and get the last quarter finished, then go back and edit, but I feel like until I figure out how to fix the problems I want to fix, I will be wasting my time, writing a lot of things that I'll just throw out later. I've been struggling through this novel for two years already, and I'm fearful that if I stick with it right now, it'll be another year before I finish the draft.

So I've decided to put Dreaming on hold and work on a new novel that I'm more excited about, edit the hell out of OtherWhere, and then come back fresh to Dreaming and rework it from scratch.

I feel a bit bad about the decision. I don't want to be the kind of person who drops projects when they get hard and go with the next shiny thing - professional writers are not like that - but I talked it over with my wife and she agrees that this is the right thing to do. So hopefully there'll be more frequent updates as I set this project aside and free up my mind to work on something new and fun.

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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