Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest post by Terry's Client Max Elliott Anderson

How to avoid writer’s block
by Max Elliot Anderson
* This was first printed on the Faithwriters.com blog

I have to say that writer’s block, or blank-screen-itis has never visited my writing. And this is true after completing 36 manuscripts. But maybe I cheat the system a little.

Here’s how.

I write action-adventures & mysteries especially for boys 8 and up. Before I begin writing a story, it’s been percolating in my mind for a couple of weeks at least. Finally the whole thing comes crashing in all at once. It’s at this time that I stop what I’m doing, pick up a recorder, and briefly tell myself the story, just as if I were telling it to a group of kids, or to my own children when they were young. After doing this, I know the beginning, the middle, and the end.

This gets typed and usually runs 8 – 10, single spaced pages. The notes are put into a file and set aside. I don’t look at those notes again until the first draft is finished.  I write as I go when it comes to the manuscript. It is only after that first draft is finished that I ever look at it or the original notes. I’m always amazed to see that all of the elements of the original story have found their way into the first draft. That has never failed yet.

Then, to get myself into the mood to write, I make sure to do a few things. Around my computer I place several photographs and any props that will help me think about the story and characters. Once I was writing about the Pacific Northwest, and logging. I went out and caught chipmunk and placed him in a small cage with cedar chips. At the end of the day I let him go but I wasn’t finished with the sequences in the woods. So the next day, I went out and caught another one. The sight of the chipmunk and the scent of the cedar helped set the mood.

The next thing I do is to always burn a candle next to the computer. I ONLY do this while writing. I never do it during brainstorming, editing, research, or reading a draft. The candle helps to take me to a different place.

Finally, I play mood appropriate music for the scene I’m writing. If it’s a funny scene I play comedy. A sad scene requires a single piano or violin. The music brings specific images into my mind as I write.

One more thing.

If I’m writing about a hot place, I like to write in the summer with the air off. If it’s a winter scene, I try to do those when it’s actually winter. I have written hot scenes in the winter, but that’s when I crank the heat way up high. I may have to stop doing that with the economy getting so rotten.

All of these elements, working together, go a long way toward setting the mood, conjuring up the proper images, suggesting dialog, and preparing the way to write. And using them, I have never faced a block of any kind. Not yet anyway.
Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. After surveying the market, he sense the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot. Seven books are published, with an additional twenty-eight manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like being in an exciting or scary movie. Visit Max online at the links below.
Books For Boys Blog  http://booksandboys.blogspot.com
Author Web Site  http://www.maxbooks.9k.com


Elaine W. Miller said...

I thought I was the only one who liglts a candle when I write. For me it is a focus point reminding me, "Elaine you are writing. You don't get up from your seat and get a snack or make a phone call or put a load of laundry in. You are writing." Silly, but it works for me! Thanks for the article

Cheryl Linn Martin said...

Enjoyed your post, and your suggestions for avoiding "Writer's Block."

I heard a great suggestion once--if you're having trouble writing an indoor scene, leave it, and go to an outdoor scene. I don't skip around scenes as I write so I don't use this one, but it might help someone.

I figure, if I'm having trouble, I switch to a previous chapter for inspiration, or to do some editing. Works for me, and I really don't have a problem with Writer's Block.

I also take breaks to just think, plan, re-work ideas and scenes in my head--it's all a part of the writing cycle for me!