Tag Archives: inspiration

Is this writer’s block?

I don’t hold with the concept of writer’s block. There isn’t a special flu that only writers get which stops us writing. If you’re a writer, you write and (in my view) that’s an end to it. There are good days and bad days, but saying you have writer’s block is akin to getting a note from your mum to excuse you from the work that needs to be done, and that’s simply not happening.

So I don’t have writer’s block, I’m just finding my present project a pain in the backside to write.

There is no try

I’m trying to write (and as I put that, Yoda is on my shoulder telling me, ‘there is no try, there is do or do not’), so I am writing a short story as bonus content for readers of my next novel (out in June – OMG, that’s starting to feel a bit close!). I only need 5k words or so, which should be a doddle compared to 70k+ in the novel.

So many words, so little plot

Except that it’s the entire opposite of a doddle. I’ve got plenty of words, just not a lot of story. I’ve just had a scrape around my PC and found that the different versions of different stories I’ve started and abandoned amount to – oh my giddy aunt – 18,310. Maybe I should have written a sequel, instead.

A blank, brick wall
Roughly: the contents of my imagination right now.

I keep persevering, since that’s my default response to any setback, but I can’t deny that the odd moment of despair is swimming over me (June – did I mention?!). I’ve tried ignoring it and working on the garden instead (you should see my beautiful strawberry patch!), and I’ve tried bribing myself with chocolate, or staring at a blank screen while the timer ticks along in the background, forcing myself to scribble down something. But still no (useable) story.

New story, new format

My last ditch attempt (inspired by Shadow and Bone, thanks, Leigh Bardugo!) is to try a different format. Maybe (definitely) I’m bored of all my first person linear narratives. I’ll shake things up and try a letter or a diary for a change. I just really, really hope that’ll get the story flowing.

Otherwise, my bonus content might just be a note from my mum!

A life of its own

There’s Magic in them there words!

There’s something magical about writing. Well, yeah, I would think that, wouldn’t I? – but it’s true. However badly written a book, I’ve never yet found one that didn’t convince me that its story was true. I might condemn the characters for being one-dimensional or acting irrationally or stupidly.  I might think events are contrived or even downright silly, but I still think it’s as real as anything I read in the paper. It’s as though the words have a life of their own – and when you’re a writer as well as a reader you know that’s absolutely true.

Portable magic KH

Over Christmas I wrote a couple of short pieces, aiming to have some “extras” to tempt people to sign up to my Reader Group (and keep those who’ve already signed up entertained). That was the intention, but like most magic in stories, it gained a life of its own.

Sulky teenager

One story wouldn’t co-operate, insisted on wandering off on tangents and I’ve ended up with 8k words but not much of a clue what the story is yet (but I’m looking forward to finding out!).

Hijacked by my heroine

The other one … well! It was prompted by the tiniest little idea (a game the characters play to pass the time in Marissa Meyer’s Winter, actually) and my imagination went off in some weird and wonderful directions. I’ve ended up with a solid 3k word story (Queen of Rubies – even the title marched into my head fully formed), but my heroine isn’t content with that and keeps chattering in my head, demanding more time and space to tell her story.

Hostage to imagination

I’d love to give her more time, but I’ve got a novel to finish revising, Across the Metal Seas is due back from my editor any day, and real life will insist on requiring my time and attention. I’m trying to ignore her, not entirely successfully. If it comes down to a battle of wills, I’m not sure I’m the one who’ll win.

Forced to write by a figment of my imagination – I think that’s the writer’s life in a nutshell!

Want to read it?

Queen of Rubies will be available first to subscribers on my Reader Group list. Sign-up if you’d like to read it when it’s finished (in either my or my heroine’s opinion). In the meantime, you’ll get exclusive, monthly access to deleted scenes, character profiles and extras.

The Last Dreamseer’s theme tune

I always write with music on in the background. Writers have strong feelings about this. Like plotter-vs-pantster debates, fellow writers either consider music a vital adjunct to the creative process, or a barbaric derailment of inspirational flow. While I’m sure I could write without music I like to have some noise going on in the background (largely, I suspect, because it enables me to talk to myself without it being obvious). A lot of the time I just have the radio on, but every book will attract to itself a tune or tunes that particularly resonate.

For The Last Dreamseer, that tune was Florence and the Machine’s Rabbit Heart (have a listen, courtesy of YouTube):

Because I’m a writer and I adore language and words, it’s always the lyrics of a song that make me fall in love with it, and the words of Rabbit Heart really struck a chord as I was writing The Last Dreamseer. My heroine, Deena, starts the story as a completely “rabbit-hearted girl”, scared of everything (with good reason since she is blessed/cursed with a gift that has had a very high price attached). During the course of the story she learns to take control of her strengths and grows from being the lamb to becoming the knife. You know, this song could have been written for her…

A whole new world

I love writing fantasy because in that genre you get to make it all up as you go along – don’t you?

You absolutely do make up a new world, but “as you go along” might be problematic – whatever you create has to be internally consistent and make logical sense to the reader. I properly understood this when my second novel came back from its editor.

When I’d sent it, I made a comment something along the lines of, “It doesn’t have the sparkle of Gatekeeper, but I hope that’s just because it hasn’t had a proper edit yet.” Maybe that word “hope” should have cued me in that I had my own misgivings about the state of the world I’d created in those pages. My editor came back after a couple of days asking how deeply I wanted the edit to go – they thought there were major issues but they didn’t want to take over. That was easy – a sub-standard book isn’t leaving my house with my name on it, so I asked for all the faults to be exposed, no matter how deeply they went.

Back came a LOT of notes, but the focus was mainly on the same area – the world I’d created wasn’t internally consistent. It wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny and required too big a suspension of disbelief for the reader.

As a result I’ve been doing a lot of research into the reuse and recycling of plastic and metal and it’s utterly fascinating. I usually hate research because it eats up the time needed to write the book, but this time it’s fired up my imagination with fabulous ideas to create a stonking new draft.

I've got the stationery, now I just need some words...
I’ve got the stationery, now I just need some words…

This has been a real eye-opener. Research isn’t a tedious necesity, nor a cramp on my imagination. It can be a springboard for ideas.

Now, I just need to find the time to write the thing…