Writer’s Block: Simple Solutions

Writer’s block can happen at any time.  It is not a commentary on your ability to write.  All kinds of artists experience blocks including musicians and performers.  I am one of these and sometimes I just can’t practice.  A trick I learned is to set a timer for 15 minutes.  Practice for only that amount of time until you can start to increase it.  It is a weird trick, but it works.  Many creative people, in particular, experience writer’s block and other forms of being “stuck”.  Who else is terrified sitting at a blank screen and a keyboard?

A blog on Psychology Today.com by Susan Reynolds says “Writing isn’t for sissies”.  She suggests that there is a lot of “thinking” that goes into writing.  We think harder than most people who are (paraphrasing here) happy to punch in and punch out of a job without investing too much of themselves.  Maybe that’s true, but I can’t speak for everyone else.

Writer’s Block Scenarios

Here are a few things that have happened to me when I write and my opinion of the causes.

  1. Thinking really hard on a subject or about a character and trying to find a first line to start the narrative (fear of failure; perfectionism)
  2. Sitting down to write and having a running list of things to do playing in the background (distractions)
  3. Writing along and all of a sudden you forget where you are and can’t remember what you were supposed to be writing (jolted out of a flow and you can’t get back in)
  4. Having too many ideas (distractions)
  5. Worrying about the reader of your material.  Are you writing something that anyone cares about? (existential crisis)

All of these are either a result of internal stress or will cause an unending loop or anxiety.  So what do I do?

Claire’s Simple Solutions

I’m not a doctor or therapist, but I have had multiple careers and have worked as an artist or with artists most of my life.  I am super familiar with creative blocks and I have some suggestions to offer for each of the numbers above.

  • 1A: Walk away from the screen and do something else.  If it isn’t going to happen then let it go and open up to other possibilities.
  • 2A: Make a physical list of all the things from the tape in your head. Usually the list is a lot smaller than it seemed to be a minute ago when it was lodged in your gray matter.
  • 3A: Stand up, stretch, walk around a bit, make some tea, get a snack, and return to your work after a few minutes.  Your flow has already been interrupted so the best thing you can do is relieve the pressure.  You also want to shut down the voice in your head that is beating you up for not getting back into the groove immediately.
  • 4A: For too many ideas, bring out the pencil or iphone list app and jot them down.  Organize them into categories (if this applies) and leave it until tomorrow.
  • 5A: When you write a first draft, write what you feel you want or need to write.  Let an editor or a reader tell you what’s wrong with what you’ve done.  You can’t be your own critic and create at the same time.

To find out more about a wide range of topics, please visit our blog.  You can also check out these articles directly:

Creating Your Author Bio

Quality is Key When Competing with 1 Million Books







Book Awards for Indie Authors

There are limitless strategies devised to drive book publicity and generate sales. Whether it’s maintaining social media, mining micro-influencers, or tracking both with your editorial calendar, these tools serve the same purpose. What about one method that encompasses the results of all three? You might have a winner in books awards.

If you’re an author just starting out, you may think book awards are reserved for those established in the industry –or signed with the “Big 5” publishing houses. That isn’t necessarily the case. While big awards like PEN/America or the Pulitzer Prize tend to shine more favorably on well-known authors, there are other prestigious options that even offer cash prizes and opportunities to consult with experts in the business.

Much like any step in generating buzz around your book and book sales, selecting reputable awards takes scrupulous research. Some book awards, even those that are well known, serve only to line the pockets of those in charge. See what fellow authors are saying about your chosen award. There is no definitive verification process for these awards, which means that the most reliable information will be from others in your station. One list we consulted while building our award database can be found here, custom tailored by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Researching awards and curating the perfect, realistic list also depends on your budget. Many book awards have an application fee, and additional fees per category in which you submit. Some also require that you pay a fee for the subsequent social media boosting and online advertising that would accompany your win. If your budget is limited, don’t worry; there are book awards that do not require entry/additional fees. Looking for book awards local to your state or town will greatly reduce, and sometimes all-together cut out that entry fee -you also save on travel expenses that way!

While you can find book awards with no entry fee, it is worth investing the money for others. You might even see a return tenfold on your investment. A recent Authors Guild study revealed that book awards and prizes, along with advances, royalties, foreign sales, serial rights, reprint/permission rights, and mass media rights comprise writer income on average.

Putting aside dollars and cents, there are priceless advantages to winning awards. Organizations like The North Street Book Prize and The Indie Author Project Regional Contests offer opportunities to consult with established authors and publishers, placement of a piece detailing your win in reputable publications, and book promotion at local hotspots. These awards will often do email blasts announcing your win and plug across media platforms in conjunction with the other prizes.

What’s our proof that this stuff actually works? Recently, our indie authors Douglas Wood and David Finkle won categories in the 2018 Independent Press Awards. Doug won Humor & Wit for his book Asshole Attorney, and David won Distinguished Favorite in Humor & Wit for his book Humpty Trumpty Hit a Brick Wall.

If they can do it, so can you!

Book Giveaways!

We are now doing book giveaways through Rafflecopter!

This post will be updated with ongoing Rafflecopter book giveaways.

Check periodically for the latest book that we are giving away to lucky readers!

Read more about the books and authors we work with on our campaigns page.

We are currently giving away a copy of Neal Rabin’s adventurous novel (perfect for summer reading) 23 DEGREES SOUTH: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether… ending on May 16th, 2018 at 12:00AM EST. The winner will be contacted by email, so make sure to check your inbox in case it was you!

“Enjoy with your favorite cocktail!…23 DEGREES SOUTH will capture all readers with its story of two young friends on different paths who intersect within an action packed story.”
– Chanticleer Reviews, 5/5 Stars

“McKinney, a veteran book publicist, has produced a clear, basic road map to publicizing a book. .” – Publishers Weekly
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Links Round Up, Week of 3/20

This week brought the first day of spring and we can’t wait for warmer weather ahead!

PR 101: 4 Things to Consider for Your Author Photo. [Writers Win]

Do you use any of these weird vocab words? [PW]

Check out Gretchen Archer in a Q&A about her new book! [Criminal Element]

Hamilton’s creator made a playlist just for writer’s block. [Nerdist]

Ever wonder how many books you can read before you die? [LitHub]

How to publish an ebook. [Jane Friedman]

Creating compelling content as told from Hollywood. [Chanticleer]

Reading can improve your relationships? [Bustle]

Are you brave enough to try this Scrabble test? [BuzzFeed]

Links Roundup, Week of 1/23

The New York Times is cutting a range of bestsellers lists. [PW]

Roxane Gay, by the book. [NYT]

Star Wars fans prepare yourself for The Last Jedi. [E! News]

What’s the ‘code’ for a bestselling novel? [Guardian]

Even the most successful in traditional publishing are going the indie route! [PW]

Do you know about the dynamic writer/publisher relationship? [Women Writers]

Nail down that elevator pitch! Those 15 seconds could make or break you. [TBD]

We love cover art – check out the best ones from 2016! [NYT]

Inspirational books that could actually change your life! [The EveryGirl]

Virginia Woolf would have been 135 this week. [NYBooks]