The Writer’s Pit and How to Avoid It

Kaylin McFarren, author of the romantic, erotic and suspense novel, Buried Threads (Book Two of the Threads Series) is here to talk about writing block, or writer’s pit as she likes to call it.

Although Kaylin wasn’t born with
a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest. Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her website at www.kaylinmcfarren.com.

The Writer’s Pit and How to Avoid It

The writer’s pit. Ugh!!! I admit it…I’m an obsessive panster, if that makes any sense at all. As a practice, I sit down and create a basic summary for a new book, avoiding the post-a-note story boards and 20 page synopses, which works for most writers. Since I’m a bit of a perfectionist as well, I end up self-editing myself for hours on end, which can result in highly polished chapters, gleaming in fact, along with an enormous hole for the next three to four days. At times, jumping over it to keep going can be a major pole-vaulting experience. Then it’s back to staying the course – moving the story forward, until the next hole arrives.

Of course, every author wants their writing to be perfect and to complete their project as soon as possible. We know what we want to say, the arch we’re hoping to create, and where we’d like our characters to ultimately end up, but we’re afraid our writing and storyline won’t measure up to our readers’ expectations. Sound familiar?

As you might imagine, I’ve been told these feelings are natural and normal. Everyone finds writing a challenge. Many writers, however, compound their problems by employing weak writing strategies and when these methods fail, they surrender their efforts. Quite often, the number killer for great stories is perfectionism. I should know. It’s the fastest way to dig yourself into a pit or to drive headlong into writer’s block. Expecting everything to come together at once leads to paralysis and an emotional heart attack. When you’re not just blocked, when you’re absolutely stonewalled, I tap into an easy, workable solution: freewriting.

This is how it works. Sit down for ten minutes and write down everything you can think of about your topic. The object is to write without stopping for the whole ten minutes. If you can’t think of anything to say, write “blah, blah, blah” over and over. If other things occur to you as you write, go ahead and record them, even if they are not directly related to your topic. These distractions may be part of what is keeping you blocked.

Although this isn’t the same as brainstorming, free writing is a great means for uncovering ideas – it’s a good way to reconnect or to find inspiration. But the main purpose is to get you moving again…to get your creative juices flowing and those fingers typing away. Most of what you write in those ten minutes will go in the trash or be completely deleted, but it’s a sure way get warmed up for some serious writing.

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