Writers’ Block

Writers’ block. What do you do when you have it? Well I’m here to tell you the secrets to successfully getting over any and all moments of writing hesitation or “block.”

You stare at the keyboard or notepad. Suck your teeth. Make a few phone calls and even pay your taxes. You sit back down and take a drink. Take twenty. Now tipsy, bleary and depressed you type a bunch of random crap. Then delete it all.

Stop for a moment. Throw a few things. Curse. Kick a puppy.

Think it over. Plan it out. Sit in front of that blank screen/page. It’s laughing at you. You can actually hear it now.

Cry. Eat. Cut yourself. Anything and everything that will clear your mind.

Mind clear now? Calm now? Ok, get back up face that blankness and reach past it. Swallow all sense of pride and resign yourself to writing badly today. Maybe even tomorrow. Maybe for the rest of your life. Just write something. Even if it’s just your name. Add a verb. Simple sentences combine and grow. Now you’re writing.

Does it suck? Will it all end up on the cutting room floor? Will anyone love it? Live it, breath it in through their eyes and make a reality of it with their fertile souls? Who knows, that’s not the issue here. You’re writing. Without a thought in your head even. Who knows if you keep that blank state up long enough a divine being might whisper something wonderful in your ear.

It might be crap, it could be world changing. It could be an ad for tampons. Whatever. Block past, writing done. Pat yourself on the back and come back tomorrow.

The only way to get over writers block is to write and keep writing. Even directionless uncertain writing is better than no writing at all. Or so I’ve been told. Not like I’m an expert or anything.

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Updates!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything for this particular blog. It still feels phony as hell writing here about the process of writing and publication. So many more knowledgeable people are already writing on the subject and what do I have to say to add to the discussion? Not much really.

I considered writing reviews of other things, movies, television, books and comics even. But that made me feel like the bitter nobody bitching about other people’s success and hoping that will bring me 15 minutes of fame. Even that’s been done before. And done to death I might add. Besides it would remind me way too much of when I wrote celebrity gossip and though I loved it in some ways, my constant bewilderment at why other people would ever care tended to show through.

So I started another blog. Sara aka Legion. I thought at first I’d fill it up with tons of short fiction but I think I got a little carried away with all the bits about Morrowind and Oblivion characters. I like blogs that have awesome pictures, what can I say, and I did work hard to take those shots and create those characters. Still I think the stuff that others could call fan fiction is getting a little out of hand. That and I need to take time out of writing to get into game and take new shots for the next arc of Ieya’s storyline. My little beast. Gods I love her.

Anywho, I’m super excited that I started off the year by accomplishing my goal of publishing my first book on my birthday! I learned a lot from the experience, there was a lot to learn that simply didn’t come to light until the last minute. For example submission guidelines for every epublisher is different, Amazon KDP differs greatly from Smashwords (the easiest by far in my estimation though also the one I’m least satisfied with) Createspace has hiccups that you won’t even know about until your mid-way through submitting your book as they don’t really let you get in and kick the tires without going through the creation process. I had only set up a couple of weeks to finalize all the publications and man did I run into problems because of that!

Focusing on Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) I was first more than a little surprised that the book would have to be converted to html. Doable with the right software but scary if you’re jumping in blind. Thankfully Amazon isn’t one of the epublishers with little information that an author can access up front. They have a ton of info for you to find and use on their site that I found greatly helpful in the planning process and in the end I’m happy with submiting an html document instead of a .doc file, as I’m sure of what my book will look like on the other end.

Still I’d have to say that in the ‘ease of use’ category, nothing beats Smashwords. They have a “Style Guide” that you can download and look through ahead of time and their detailed info on how to set up a word .doc in the format they want was invaluable. I’ve actually begun writing all my novels in that format as I believe it’ll make conversion to other formats easier for me in the long run. Also in Smashwords favor in the ‘ease of use’ category is the fact that they’ll take a .doc file and do the entire conversion process for you into all current ebook formats, even Amazons. That makes them super easy.

In the end though I decided to upload to Amazon’s directly rather than go through Smashwords because I had some stylistic disagreements with Smashwords (I don’t like their cover page formatting) so I had to go through Amazons extra steps on my own.

Finally there’s Createspace. When I set out to publish “The Uncertainty of Death” I didn’t originally intend to go with a Print on Demand option at all. I was all about the ebooks at that point, in for a penny in for a pound. Still I got a lot of requests for a dead tree edition of the book and decided, at the last possible moment to go with Createspace since it was featured on the same pages as Amazon’s KDP I figured it would be a similarly easy process.

I was so wrong.

Formatting for a trade market paperback is a totally different thing to an ebook. From margins to line spacing, there’s a whole new set of parameters to follow. None of that was that bad though, Createspace offers handy templates that you can paste the entire book into to format it perfectly for print. The biggest problem I ran into with Createspace and the reason I currently don’t have a print book available – would be the cover creator. The dimensions for a book cover on all the sites are different but since you’re actually creating a book cover and not just a thumbnail the dimensions and resolution are about 4x’s the size of any epublisher’s requirements.

I took one look at these and knew I was probably in trouble.

Still, I know my cover artist would have been happy to whip out a new cover to meet their specs. I didn’t want to bother them though, it looked simple enough that I could fix it myself, right? Wrong. See, my cover is simple, black and white, featuring mostly the name of the book. Createspace vetoed the cover repeatedly because of this. You see, Createspace has a problem dealing with what they call “live elements” on a cover and will veto any cover that has these elements more than .5 from the edge. From my research trying to solve this problem I learned that a “live element” can be either a face or letters. So I opened my cover in a image editing program and resized it, adding that extra .5 of an inch all the way around my original cover and reuploading it to the Createspace cover creator – vetoed again. Somehow no matter how many times I uploaded the cover into the creator, or choose a different cover design, my cover continually was vetoed.

I gave up after about a week. I will give Createspace this, they were prompt with their replies to my queries and very friendly, though they made me feel like a tech illiterate Luddite while trying to explain my problem. I suspect anyone who ever has to call in with a software problem feels like that no matter how normally tech savvy they are.

Eventually I’ll give PoD another shot, while I was researching trying to figure out why my cover kept getting rejected I came across a lot of suggestions to try Lulu instead, but for right now I’ve got more work on my plate than I can handle. I doubt I’ll go back to Createspace again but luckily there are still options I haven’t tried yet!