Every Monday through the end of April 2018, MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR focuses on the art and craft of writing, from Shannon’s perspective or that of guest authors. To catch up on all posts, check out the MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR portion of the website!
This week welcomes a guest author post from Sue Owens Wright, who offers her advice on writer’s block.
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SITTING OUT WRITER’S BLOCK
Sue Owens Wright
My favorite advice from a writing teacher on how to beat writer’s block is, “Place seat of pants in seat of chair.” At some time or other, nearly every writer succumbs to that mind-numbing affliction commonly known as writer’s block. The dread of facing the empty white page can stall you out indefinitely, if you let it. I’ve felt it on occasion, but that bit of writerly wisdom I quoted has always worked for me.
Some writers have overcome a lot of negativity to pursue a literary career and had to be their own cheerleaders. You’ve probably heard those nattering nabobs and naysayers at some time or other, the unsupportive parent or spouse or perhaps a teacher who was less than encouraging about your prose, though thankfully those are rare. When you sit down to write, you may hear the same old critical voices whispering in your ear, telling you to give up writing and get a real job. Tell them all to shut up! Then lay down some words and show how wrong they are.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to take time from our daily busyness to sit down and begin writing. The secret to success at anything in life is to show up. Nothing will ever happen until you do, and there are plenty of distractions to prevent it. Writers can think up all kinds of creative ways to avoid the thing they most want to do. Housework, errands, phone calls, e-mail, texting—the list of diversions is endless. A looming deadline works wonders for me, but it doesn’t have the same effect on every writer. The pressure can turn a momentary mental block into a wall Donald Trump would envy.
When all else fails, perhaps a change of scenery is called for. All work and no play makes for dull writers and colorless prose. I’ve traveled to locales that have inspired my novels, but that’s not always possible. I do most of my writing at a favorite hometown café, where I spend several hours writing each afternoon. I always start my writing session with a journal entry, which helps get the creative juices flowing. A writing prompt is sometimes useful. Caffeine and classical music helps, too. I’m a people (and dog) watcher, and occasionally I encounter a ready-made character, though my best canine characters have always been right at my feet. If that café happens to be one at Lake Tahoe, where my mystery series is set, that’s when the words really spill out. My experiences there with my dogs have filled five novels in the Beanie and Cruiser Mystery series thus far.
Most often, you must write right where you are. Wherever that is, you still have to place seat of pants in seat of chair and do it. Install a seat belt, if need be. It’s the only thing that works in the end.
Ears for Murder is Sue Owens Wright’s fifth book in the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, which features basset hounds. www.sueowenswright.com.
Sue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs. She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books.
Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?, 150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables. Her newest novels are The Secret of Bramble Hill and Ears for Murder.
Website URL: www.sueowenswright.com
Blog URL: http://dogearedbooks.blogspot.com/
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/sue.o.wright
Ears for Murder buy link:
The Secret of Bramble Hill buy link: