Friday with Friends–guestblog by Christina Berry
I am so happy to introduce you to a good friend of mine. We first became cyber-friends when she edited a book for me. Christina did a super job, and I highly recommend her editing prowess. We later became friends in person at the ACFW conference a couple years ago when we rode in the van to the hotel together and shared several meals together and even collected tickets together one night at the evening meal. Lots of togetherness!
And, she is a great writer. Be sure to check out her book, The Familiar Stranger, if you haven’t already read it. The book was a Christy finalist in 2010 and also won ACFW’s Carol Award! Woo-hoo, Christina! You can order an autographed copy from her website at http://christinaberry.net/ And you can also check out her other links there, too, to find out more about her and her editing services, and please read her bio below.
Now, without further ado, let’s hear the words of the master writer/editor herself on how to kick writer’s block!
Kicking Writer’s Block to the Curb by Christina Berry
During your writing journey along Lonely-Misunderstood Highway—commonly known to be paved with rejection—your focus is on reaching its intersection with Published Avenue. Occasionally, however, you must pass through the maligned neighborhood of Writers’ Block. In this section of town, people wander aimlessly, circling, blank or frustrated looks on their face.
You might hit this detour at the start of your journey, though most trips start off with great excitement. A full tank of gas, goodie bag, sweet tunes on the radio, and the open road ahead—writing is good!
We’re not yet sick of our traveling companions (characters), the scenery (setting), the purpose of the trip (theme), and we’re not discouraged by how far there is still to go (word count).
Imagine this: you’re cruising along at just over the speed limit, impressed with what good time you’re making, when a pendulous, glaring, red eye of a stoplight appears over the roadway.
Suddenly your companions have gone silent, the setting is stagnant, you’re not sure why or where you are headed where you are, and wherever it is … it’s too far away.
U-turn and go back to your existence as a happy non-writer, clueless as to the pain of Writers’ Block, untouched by literary angst? Never! Try some of these things to get, in the timeless words of Willie Nelson, on the road again.
1) Pray! This is, of course, always the Christian answer to everything, so a great place to start, no doubt.
2) Play a game with yourself. Sometimes I make a list of my chores, and a list of my word count in 100-word increments. After crossing off a chunk of words, I can start a load of laundry or shower or grab a handful of M&Ms. If eating M&Ms is not on your chore list, you need to make better lists.
3) Read a great book to inspire you, or a horrible book to remind you that even bad books get finished eventually. Some even are published.
4) Take a walk. The exercise will stimulate the blood flow to your brain, creating instant genius fixes to whatever plagues your manuscript.
5) Open up a new document or grab a notebook and let your mind go in a stream of consciousness monologue from one of your characters. After ten minutes, reread what poured on to the screen/page. Is there a new conflict you didn’t even know about before that can be explored? What worries does your character reveal?
6) Vent. Call a friend. If you call a fellow writer, you might get a bit of sympathy, but she won’t let you whine for long. Choose a non-writer. You’ll have an aura of mystic creativity, which allows for a longer whine.
7) I know I already mentioned M&Ms, but snacking is always a good thing. Just make wise choices. Carrots, raisins, and a cup of dry Cinnamon Life might allow you to maintain a better lap for your laptop to rest upon than chocolate, ice cream, and cappuccinos.
8) Have your character do a normal thing, but with a crazy twist. I thought my daughter was building a snowman after the last good accumulation of white stuff. She called me out a few hours later to show off her snowseal, complete with ball on its nose. Those little details, if you’ve stuck in a needed scene that’s been done too many times before, could get your story moving again.
9) Grab the newspaper. Find the craziest story, then work some aspect of it into your novel. The fresh direction should give you a “novel” wind.
10) Introduce a new character and see how the dynamic of the novel shifts.
11) Skip ahead a few chapters, see what’s going on, then go back and connect the dots.
12) Ask yourself, “If I don’t want to write this, is it because it’s boring and I know nobody wants to read it?” Maybe it’s a scene that can be cut.
13) Put some characters together and write only the conversation. NO actions, or dialogue tags, or description—only conversation. Go back and fill in the blanks. (I stole this one from Steve Bly.)
14) Have something explode. This is especially plot-changing in gentle women’s fiction and Amish.
I hope these strategies work for you. Do me a favor, will you? Give me a little wave when you zoom past and I’m still stuck wandering the block?
Bio: As a single–but NEWLY-engaged–mother and foster parent, Christina Berry writes about the heart and soul of life with a twist of intrigue. A Christy finalist and Carol winner, she holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem as well. Captain of a winning Family Feud team, Christina is also a purple belt in Tae kwondo and would love to own a descented skunk. Christina is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Oregon Christian Writers (OCW), and the Redeemed Writers Critique Group. For the past five years, she has served on the OCW summer conference staff. Get to know her better at www.christinaberry.net or www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.net or on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re looking for a quick and thorough editing job for your manuscript, check her editing service!