As a writer, I don’t even like to speak its name, but I’ll try to be brave.
Writer’s block. Author kryptonite. You sit there staring at a blank page, typing the word “the” and erasing it over and over again until you begin to wonder if you’ll ever write a coherent sentence again.
So, what’s a blocked writer to do? While there is of course no hard-and-fast rule of how to get over writer’s block, here are a few ideas to get you moving in the right direction.
1. Try some music
There’s a reason movies have soundtracks — music is great for getting you in the right mood. If there are certain songs that put you in mind of your story, slap together a playlist and crank it. And if there aren’t any particular songs you associate with your work-in-progress, try some generic music that fits your genre. If you write fantasy, listen to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack or type “fantasy music” into YouTube for a ready-made playlist. If you write romance, guess what? “Romantic music,” bam. Playlist all ready to go. Harness the power of music to get you back on your merry writing way.
2. Write out your ideas
This might sound a bit counterintuitive, since “not being able to write” is the whole problem here, but bear with me. There’s a big difference between writing out ideas and writing an actual page you someday intend for other people to read. Writing out your ideas is just you talking to yourself, so there’s no pressure to make sure that the words are right or even make sense to anyone but you.
Talk to yourself in written form for a while about what you want to accomplish in the scene or where the story is going. Hash out plot problems or character backgrounds. Describe the scene even if you can’t write it exactly how you want to just yet. Sometimes just the mere action of putting words down on paper (or screen) can jumpstart your blocked writer’s brain, and even if it doesn’t, you’ve still accomplished something by further cementing your ideas for the story. Either way, you win.
3. Take a short break and come back
This might sound like an obvious one, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat stubbornly at the computer with my fingers on the keys, trying to force inspiration when it just wasn’t there. You’re not going to break out of that mindset by fuming at your blank Word doc, so go do something else for a little while. Take the pressure off for ten or fifteen minutes, and when you come back, you might find that your brain has settled into a more writing-amenable mood.
4. Remember that your draft doesn’t have to be perfect — it just has to be written
Personally, I tend to feel that the first words I put down on the page should be glorious and shining and perfect, and if they aren’t, then that means I’m a Bad Writer. But the shocking truth is that your draft doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to be good. The first draft is, as the very wise Sir Terry Pratchett once said, “just you telling yourself the story.” As long as you get the words down, your draft is a success. When you reach the editing phase, there’ll be plenty of time to polish those words until they sparkle like a YA vampire, but for now, just focus on laying the foundation for what will, eventually, be a really marvelous piece of work.
Whatever happens, remember that getting blocked once in a while is something all writers experience, and experiencing it yourself puts you in some truly great company. And if you find that the block is continuing no matter what you try, it may be a sign that something’s not working about your story as it is currently. Go back to the drawing board — think creatively about what might be preventing you from moving forward, and don’t be afraid to make drastic changes if doing so is going to help you craft a better story in the end.
And when you’re finished with your draft and are asking that inevitable question, “Where can I find quality editing, formatting, publishing, and promotional graphics services for author-friendly prices?” head over to our main page for what I think you’ll agree is the only possible answer.
You’ve written an amazing book, sure to be the next runaway bestseller, but what now? If you’ve decided to skip the traditional publishing route, that means that the one now in charge of making sure that your book looks good and sells well is you.
Well, crap, you think to yourself. I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t even know where to start.
While my biggest advice to you would, of course, be to use our services and let us do all this annoying stuff for you, if you’re determined to have a go of it on your own, here are five quick tips to start you on your way:
1. Make an author account with Amazon
Amazon has some amazing services to help you self-publish. Using their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) site, you can upload your manuscript, make a book cover (or upload one of your own), and publish your book as an ebook, paperback, or both. And by the way, you can download manuscript templates here for the size and type of your book and then just plug in your content and upload to Amazon when you’re ready.
2. Design your own book cover
It might sound intimidating, but designing your own book cover really is the way to go. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with using Amazon KDP’s book cover maker, you’ll end up with something pretty cookie cutter as a result, and whatever the wisdom of the ages says, people really do judge books by their covers. Luckily, there are lots of excellent resources out there to help you.
Fotor has a free book cover making site (though watch out, as you can only have five active projects there at a time), unsplash.com has a ton of great stock photos you can use for free, and great photo editor sites like Pixlr X can help you get your images looking exactly how you want them. (Also definitely check out Canva, which has a ton of really nifty things you can do for free.)
3. Make a website
No matter what kind of book you’re publishing, it’s a good idea to have a website so readers can find out more about the book and you as an author. You can make a website strictly for the book itself, or you can make an Official Author Website that includes your other works, a blog, and info about you, as well.
If you’re not sure where to start, WordPress is always a good option (and you can have a website there for free, provided you don’t mind having “.wordpress” affixed to your URL). You can also snag a free website through Wix, GoDaddy, and a lot of other places. Just search for “get a free website” and see what strikes your fancy.
4. Start a social media presence
Like it or not, we live in the age of social media, and that means that if you want your indie book to succeed, you’re going to need to get the word out that it exists, and social media is the best way to do that. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook seem to be the standards, though really any social media platform will do the job.
Quick basic tips for Twitter, which we’ll discuss in more detail in a future post: (1) Make sure it’s clear from your name and profile who you are and where people can find your website and/or book, (2) always have a pinned post at the top of your profile so people can easily access your book and/or website, and (3) use hashtags in your posts so more than just your followers can find you.
5. Consider getting help if you need it
There’s a lot that goes into publishing a book. Even if you’ve written a truly spectacular piece of work, your book won’t hold up to the traditionally published stuff if it’s not edited and formatted properly, and we already discussed the importance of having a spiffy cover to go along with it. It is entirely possible to self-publish a book without spending any money at all, but it’s also important to be realistic about what you can and can’t do yourself.
If you decide not to have your manuscript professionally edited (and hey, did I mention that we can do that for you? ‘Cuz we can. :D), then I’d highly recommend finding a beta reader to have a look at it for you before you publish it. Goodreads has a beta reader group, and TCK Publishing has a Complete Guide to Beta Readers resource post you can check out here.
And if you look at this list and think that this is all just Too Much and you’d rather have someone swoop in and, for a very reasonable price, take care of all this crazy stuff for you, check out our main page for info on our nifty author services and writer-friendly prices.