Tips for Writer's Block

I imagine every writer feels blocked or stalled at some time.  Are we intimidated because our goal is too big? Writing in short bursts, a paragraph or one scene at a time could well bring the flow back. We need to make a friend of adjusting our goals to doable levels. It’s not a failure; it’s smart. 

Periods of heightened stress and anxiety exhaust our energy and disrupt creativity. Take a break, visit a museum, arboretum, or kick back at a coffee shop—overheard conversations may spark ideas,.
Tip Suggestions:
  • Set aside more time to read; read a lot, read what you like and what inspires you.
  • For a few weeks write a little every day but for you only—forget production, just write and love it.
  • Instead of “blocked” think “stuck”. Stuck is fixable. Refer to “A Writer’s Book of Days” by Judy Reeves pages 142-148. Judy wrote about boxing ourselves into a corner, caught rehashing the same things over, and over, and drained of ideas. She makes suggestions for the way out. It’s fixable.
  • Plan projects in bite size pieces and write whether you want to or not.
  • Consider switching to write, to outline or to research one of your other projects.
  • Try free writing.
  • Listen to music. Create a play-list for writing—classics for background, movie themes for high action, or sentimental songs for story.
  • Exercise—get moving. 
  • Reset by playing a video in your genre or one of your favorites.
  • Ask yourself “What If” questions and note your answers.
  • Do some people watching at the park or coffee shop far enough away that you can’t hear their conversation. Interpret their body language and write that scene.
  • Make a list of the reasons you write.

Many of you have a favorite “unstuck” method. Please share with us in the comments section. Thanks

Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors.  Deborah writes articles, essays and stories. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  Careful editing preserves each artist’s voice as they share their journey. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley - Writers Blog.  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines. 

“Explore, Dream, Discover”

Move Around Your Writing Barriers

By W. Terry Whalin

Not long ago, I was driving into downtown Denver for breakfast with a Morgan James author. There are many one-way streets in this section of the city. Suddenly the street where I was going was blocked off and had a detour. Without even a second thought, I turned and followed the detour and soon was back on track heading toward my meeting place. I did not let the detour throw me off from my destination. I did not get put off and quit and return home but found the way forward. My response comes from years of driving experience and understanding that sometimes roads are blocked and you have to locate the way around the roadblock.

Just like driving and finding roadblocks to get around, the writing world often has roadblocks and detours. Maybe you pitch an editor who requested your manuscript and you don't get a response. I've been working with an author who has a children's book and she has been promising to send it to me. It has never come. A few weeks ago when I saw this author in person, she asked me if I had received it. My conversation with her was the first I had known she had even finished it and tried to send it. No, I had not received it. She promised to resend it—and that still has not happened. We depend on things like email when sometimes even email breaks down and doesn't reach the intended editor.

From my years in publishing, I find every step of the process has pitfalls and potential breaks in communication. Editors don't respond to your magazine pitches or a program which you use often isn't working or someone promises to review your book and doesn't follow through. These types of roadblocks happen all the time.

How do you respond to a roadblock? Do you stop and say to yourself, “Guess no one wanted that idea.” “Or “it wasn't meant to be.”  Or do you persevere and look for another way to move around the roadblock?  The writers who succeed (and that measure of success is different for each of us)—find their way around the barriers.

Earlier this year, I wrote about listening to Lauren Graham's memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can. She sat next to best-selling author, James Patterson and ask him, “How do you do it?”

Patterson responded, “Keep going, keep going, keep going.” As writers, each of us get rejected. Our plans get interrupted and changed.  My encouragement is to continue looking and find the path forward. If you are struggling with an area, then create a new habit or new system to help with this area. Your goals and dreams as a writer are important.

The stories of persistent and perseverance in the face of challenges are often a theme in different biographies and how-to books that I've heard recently (check my list of books here). In Robert Greene's Mastery, he told the story of Henry Ford and his early failures and persistence to ultimately form the Ford Motor Corporation. Admiral William H. McRaven told about his persistence in his Navy seal training in Make Your Bed. Historian David McCullough told about the early failures of Harry S. Truman in Truman. While he had no college education, Truman became the 33rd  President of the United States. I learned valuable lessons from each of these successful people. Persistence and perseverance is an important quality for every writer.

In the comments below, tell me about the actions you take to continue and move forward with your writing.


Hit a roadblock with your writing? Get ideas here how to keep moving forward.  (ClickToTweet)
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written for more than 50 magazines and published more than 60 books for traditional publishers including his latest Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. Terry is active on Twitter and lives in Colorado.
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Use Internet Radio Shows and Podcasts to Create a Buzz about Your Book

If you've written a book, even before your book is released you need to start getting the word out about it.

One great way to create a "buzz" about your book is by landing a guest spot on a popular Internet radio show or podcast.

And today that is easier than ever because there are all sorts of Internet radio shows and podcasts available for most any type of audience (and any type of book).

Here are a few tips for using these types of broadcasts to promote your book:

1. Always send the show host a review copy of your book several weeks ahead of your scheduled interview.

This gives the host time to read your book or at least become familiar with it.

When you send your book, include any information you'd like to promote during your interview—book signings, details about upcoming writers' conferences where you'll be speaking, writing workshops that you offer, etc.

The host wants to be sure the two of you will have plenty to talk about during your interview and will appreciate any information you provide.

2. Help the host attract more listeners for the show by sending a notice to everyone on your mailing list and by telling your friends and family about your interview, at least a week or so before your scheduled appearance.

If you belong to online social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, etc., post a notice to your friends and followers for each of these groups and invite them to listen, or even call in (if possible), to the show the day of your interview.

3. Offer an autographed copy of your book as a giveaway during your scheduled radio or podcast interview.

The host can determine how to give away the book (to the 5th caller that day, for example).

Also, when you get the word out ahead of time about the show, be sure to mention there will be an autographed copy of your book given away to one of the callers during your interview.

This way you'll attract more listeners for your interview. Also, during your on-air interview, invite listeners to visit your website and join your mailing list.

With the popularity of Internet radio and online podcasts, there are now more opportunities than ever to land a guest spot on a regular show.

And hosts of these shows are always on the lookout for interesting guests.

Generally, they welcome the chance to talk to published authors, so start using these shows to create a buzz about your book now!

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing from Suzanne, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

Preparing for Your Book Signing

You have written your book, had it accepted, and you have it in your hands. Now the publisher and the marketing team is ready for your participation in public displays and book signings. You may even have been asked to read your book or a passage or two in front of an audience. Does the thought of speaking in public or actually promoting yourself make your blood run cold? Here are a few tips to help prepare for your first book signing event.

I have had three books published and the first two signings were at church related events because the books fit that audience. However, I have a Picture book out this month and the first signing is coming up. How to prepare isn't something the publisher has explained other than to bring books, prepare to read aloud in front of a camera, and that a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Children's hospital. Not much to go on. This is what I have done.

  • I have plenty of business cards ready with my contact information. This way even those who don't purchase a book will take away a tangible way to reach me.
  • I have books ready to sell. The publisher also has back up cases. We may have too many but I like to be prepared. I also have made a simple order blank to pass out with my business card for those who were not prepared to buy today. Many may want to order for a gift, for their school, or at a later date.
  • This particular signing, the publisher is handling all purchases at one station so that all books sold that day from the authors present will get their donation deducted before receiving their commissions. If I were to be there alone, I would need to have a cash box and a way to accept payments and make change. A sign telling buyers who to make the check out to is also helpful and you have covered all bases. Know your tax rate and the laws pertaining to book sales. If tax is included in the price make that known to the buyer.
  • Have a table with a nice cloth or an attractive way to set up your books to grab the buyer. Just like the first paragraph grabs the reader, your initial appearance and impression grabs the buyer. This doesn't have to be elaborate but simple, clean, and attractive.
  • Dress neatly and appropriate for your setting. Wear your best asset which should be your smile and friendly manner at all times. Again, your first impression is your best. You may not have a chance to change the mind of a visitor who gets the wrong first impression and believe me that bad impression will be remembered when you publish again.
  • Have fun. Enjoy the process. Stay in the moment and put your outside concerns away for the day. This is what you  have worked for so truly enjoy the experience. Take mental notes if not written notes of contacts you may need in the future. With luck and hard work you will be in this place again.
These are just a few things that I am concentrating on, but marketing, blogging, and advertising before an event is also a must. What do you do to prepare for a book signing? How do you market yourself and your work that enhances what a marketing team may also be doing?

Feel free to comment and offer your tips to our readers. And check our archives for more articles on marketing  or grab a copy of The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson for more excellent advice on self promotion.

Terri Forehand is a Neonatal Nurse and author of The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane and Pepper's Special Secret. Visit her website at or her blog at

Boring Words Alternatives

As a writer, you know how important words are. You want them to work for you. You want them to convey exactly what you mean. You want them to be powerful.

Here's an infographic that takes boring and overused words and gives words you can replace them with.

28 Boring Words Alternatives - Improve Your Writing Infographic by Jack Milgram

Hope you found this list of  words helpful. You can let us know in the comments.


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Writing with Clarity

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines clarity as lucidity, clearness of thought.

Writing with clarity can be a difficult aspect of writing. There isn’t a GPS for clarity. And, no matter how clear you think you’re conveying a particular sentence, paragraph, or theme, you may not be able to see that you’ve missed the clarity mark.

How does this happen?

Missing the clarity mark may happen even if your thoughts are crystal clear.

If those crystal-clear thoughts or intent don’t translate onto paper, you’ve missed the mark.

As the author of the piece, you know what you’re thinking, what motives are involved, what you assume the reader should be seeing.

It’s this very knowledge that may cloud your perception of what you are actually conveying. This clarity cloud can at times create a gap between what you think you’re saying and what you actually say. This happens because you’re are too close to your own writing.

Think of a color. Now, think of a very specific hue or shade within that color. Now, try to write what you see or explain it.

You can see it. You write what you see and are sure the reader will get it.

This is what can happen with your story. You can see what’s unfolding clear as day, the scene, the characters . . . the intent. But, your vision may not translate with clarity onto paper. You may think it has. You can see it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean it has actually translated onto the paper.

An example of this is a children’s picture book I reviewed. The content and illustrations were well done, but there was one big problem. The story ultimately was about the main character having to go through a metamorphosis in order to be accepted by others.

This is what a reader, a child, might take away from the story.

While the story had a number of good points, this one flaw was a biggie. The author knew what she intended, probably a story of the MC striving and striving and finally succeeding. But, that intent wasn’t what I saw.

And, because the author was so sure of her intent, because she could see it crystal-clear, she couldn’t see that the take away value of the story could be anything but what she intended.

This is not to say that every reader would see what I saw, but do you want to take that chance, especially if you’re writing for children?

Fortunately, there is help in this area: a critique group. Every writer who is writing a manuscript should belong to a critique group. Having three, six, or ten other writers, who write in the same genre, will help you find many of the pitfalls in your story.

The critique group is the unknowing audience. They have no perceived conception of your story, so they will be able to see where it goes astray and where it lacks clarity.

You can also ask your local librarian to read it. Maybe ask a teacher to read it. Maybe get a family member to read it. You can also get a professional critique.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact me at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:


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How to Get a Writing Win

We've all had those days, weeks, and months. Nothing is going right. Articles are getting rejected. Clients are being difficult. Inspiration is waning. You're in a rut and your not sure how to get out of it.

Well, when that happens all you need is a win to set you on the right path. I know, I'm saying this like a "win" is easy. In a way it is. It doesn't need to be a big win. Just something that will boost your confidence and reset your mindset.

Here's what you can do to get a win:

1. Define Your Win. Your win can be as simple as writing a review for a friend's book on Amazon or podcast on iTunes, or a recommendation or testimonial. It will make you feel good and your friend ecstatic. 

You can also complete a task you've been meaning to do, but never seem to find the time. This can mean updating your bio, media, or speaking page on your website or blog; refreshing your LinkedIn profile; or researching a new publication and sending out a pitch or two.

Do you want a slightly larger win? Write an article or guest post, complete a draft of your work in progress, or outline a new one.

Choose something that you can easily accomplishing in a short period of time, so you get back on track. Note: this doesn't even have to be a writing win. If you have a small personal goal, like cleaning your office or start exercising, that works too.

2. Get it Done. Work on your win as soon as you finish reading this post. Not possible? Make an appointment with yourself this week. Don't just schedule time, keep the commitment you made to yourself. And get it done!

3. Celebrate. Reward yourself for your accomplishment. It can be a small or large treat, or some well-deserved me-time. It's all part of the process of getting yourself out of your head and moving forward onto other things.

Your "win" is just the first step. Take the enthusiasm and euphoria, and use it to make progress on your other projects. When you approach your other work from that happy place, the positive energy should translate ... and things should go a lot smoother.

What sort of win will you get this week? Did you accomplish it already? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.