3 Deadly Traps For A Writer

Typing Flames

Guest post by author Roger Colby, who previously contributed our most Tweeted post ever, a record breaking 1272 Tweets: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Top 10 Tips for Writers.

His next book Come Apart’ is his third novel, a science fiction mystery in the tradition of ‘Lost’ and ‘The Prisoner’.  It will be released in a few weeks.

Roger and I are very interested to hear your thoughts on this new post.  Please do leave a comment at the end of the article.

Over to Roger…

Roger ColbyThere are so many things that can distract writers.

Writers are thinkers and dreamers, and if there is anything I have learned from my son, who suffers from ADHD, it is that distractions can kill any chance of the completion of a task.

But what are the three things that are deadly for a writer, deadly vipers that might poison any chance of completing a project or a WIP?

The following three would top my list:

1. Life

Life

Perhaps you have angel wings and perhaps rainbows follow you everywhere and perhaps you ride to work every day on a unicorn that smells like angel-food cake, but quite frankly the world is a much more harsh environment for a writer than most.

Writers are typically sensitive to their world and often go around with their skin removed… at least poets and fiction writers.

It is tough, sometimes, to keep that world at bay enough to not let it bring us down. We are trying to write that romantic scene when our love life is in shambles, trying to write the happiest ending to our tale when the ending to our day was more of an out of control avalanche.

The Way Out:

Do what writers do best – write about it.

Stop writing that scene that is a paradox to your life at the moment and write about what really happened to you today. It is a way to get it off of your chest (and not freak out your significant other with how sensitive you are to your surroundings).

2. Writer’s Block – Let’s Face It

Writer's Block

You haven’t written in weeks, perhaps months, and you just can’t get back into the habit of cranking out the words. Perhaps you have grown bored with the WIP.  I once knew a writer who didn’t write for a year because he claimed that he had writer’s block.

The Way Out:

Realize that writer’s block is a myth.

There are not blocked writers only lazy writers.  I’m sorry to punch you in the creative noggin, but this is a truth.

Writers write.

It doesn’t matter if you write a poem today or a paragraph or a sentence, you should get to writing. Write nonsense for a few paragraphs and see what happens.

3. Shattered Dreams of “Success”

This one is a tough one.

Bestseller Trophy

You have done everything (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, free Kindle days, e-mail blitzes, hired good editors, spent tons of money) and you have not seen the book sales you desire.  It has therefore soured any other attempts at writing another novel because you have had such little monetary success with the other effort.

This one can cause any writer to go on a downward spiral of despair in a hurry… the feeling that no matter what you do, you will never have the “success” of an Amanda Hocking.

The Way Out:

What is your definition of “success”?  Mine is selling a few books now and again and once in a while getting a letter from a reader who liked my book.

Success is finishing one of those crazy novels that popped out of my head in the middle of the night after a fevered dream. You have to be realistic about dreams because in truth the best seller is not the best success you can have as a writer.

My latest novel made one of my proof-readers cry when she finished the last chapter.

That is success.

Guest article by Roger Colby.  Author & English Teacher 

Roger Colby

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Roger Colby for this article. 

Jonathan Gunson  

What kills your writing vibe?  Does ‘life’ get in your way?  What is the biggest hurdle for you?  Please do leave a comment.  

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Comments

  • Becs says:
    April 3, 2014 at 7:40am

    Hello Roger and Jonathan
    It’s true. We writers do go around ‘with our skins removed’. I often feel feeble that I need so much reassurance. But other times, I feel I’m a writing God. :)
    Good to know I am not alone with my mood swings.
    Becs in London

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 8:10am

      Becs
      I’ve been in this business almost forever, and generally confident about my work. Nevertheless I still fall into self-doubt from time to time, and need a good measure of reassurance.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 7:42am

    Good post, Roger. I don’t agree with writer’s block being about laziness though. There are times when your writing dries up and at times like that you do need to step away and take a break.
    No writer can write all the day. Sometimes you do need a break – and that’s coming from someone who has been writing professionally for over 20 years and who has had 7 books traditionally published with another 2 contracted.
    I also get so much happiness out of someone reading one of my books and writing to tell me how much they enjoyed it – usually via Twitter.
    Happy writing, everyone.

    Jenny Thomson (Author of the Die Hard For Girls series and zombie novel Dead Bastards)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 7:51am

      Jenny
      True indeed re ‘drying up’. Sometimes I feel that we’ve simply emptied the well.
      However I feel that Roger is still right about ‘writer’s block’ for a big chunk of writers. They’ll make any excuse to avoid getting down to the hard graft of actual writing. And there’s also another group who freeze up and find it impossible to write, mostly because they are afraid of what people will think. In other words, they are afraid of being judged.
      This was the case with Hemingway. He was in terror of the expectations. And the same was the case more recently with Colleen Hoover. There’s a post about this here: http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/.
      And you have 7 books published. A massive achievement. Congratulations are due!
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 11:02am

      I can’t say I haven’t had my slumps. However, I always manage to rise out of a break with yet another idea, and get back on the horse.

  • April 3, 2014 at 8:00am

    Hello Jonathan and Roger. Surprisingly, I’m not in any of those traps unless it’s partially the ‘life’ issue. For me it’s more that life sucks the time away from my writing, leaving me only smidgens of allotments to do my writing in. I know -create a writing schedule. Working on it.

    But I never, EVER have writer’s block, and my naive visions of success shattered long ago, leaving the more realistic and satisfying outlook on writing for the love first, with everything else coming in behind.

    Great article, though. I think just about every writer falls in or has fallen in one or all categories. Love the simple advice on how to get back on one’s feet.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 8:05am

      Bard
      I feel you say it perfectly with (i) “…visions of success shattered long ago…” and (ii) “…writing for the love first…”.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 11:06am

      I am so glad you are staying on task with it. I’m one of those people who wakes in the night with yet another idea. Good thing for Simplenote on my iPad. Rest in the knowledge that you are pushing forward, always pushing forward. I teach Advanced Placement, an adjunct course at a local university, and manage an alternative ed. program, yet still find time to be a novelist. It can be done.

  • April 3, 2014 at 8:05am

    Always good to hear this again and again. Great post, thanks.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 8:07am

      Elsa
      There’s nothing like a refresher. Definitely need more guest posts like this.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 8:10am

    I am currently writing the third book in a saga of historical “fiction’ that happens to be based on the lives of real people. The first two published books have delighted readers and several reviewers, and I have contented myself with that aspect to date. It always gives me a “buzz” when somebody writes to say how much they have enjoyed a book of mine!

    However, not having unlimited funds available to pave the way to really “getting the books out there” it sometimes makes me feel helpless and depressed, having already done everything I can think of by way of social media etc.

    Being fortunate to already have a storyline for my books, for me writer’s block represents a simple need to take a break now and again, my mind often still planning the way ahead in the manuscript.

    Carol in France

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:04am

      Carol
      My mother used to advise… “We all need to take time to stand and stare… to smell the flowers for a little while.”
      Another truism that also covers it is “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
      Thanks for your comment.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 11:08am

      Keep at it. Eventually that one book will catch fire.

      • Dana Bennett says:
        April 3, 2014 at 3:51pm

        “Keep at it. Eventually that one book will catch fire.” Roger Colby

        This line is what sustains my writing. This keeps the dream alive. We have a cabin that is heated by a fireplace and the metaphor is brilliant. It takes a small but productive flame that smolders at first but when it catches, it grows. The wood (words are) is the product. Keep stoking the fire or it will go out. Thanks for reminding me again.

  • April 3, 2014 at 8:27am

    Yet again, another ‘common sense’ article from Best Seller Labs. Roger lays it on the line simply and clearly. I found his reasoning on writers block hit the mark with me. It’s so easy to tell yourself “Leave it until tomorrow, It will come to you then.” It doesn’t, tomorrow comes, yes , but inspiration doesn’t necessarily follow. I have found that sitting down and writing anything is the way to inspiration – don’t put it off until tomorrow. What you write may be deleted later but you’re already on your way out of that dreaded ‘block.’
    I also liked Roger’s words of wisdom on ‘Shattered Dreams of Success.’ We’re all budding J.K. Rowlings but her success is extraordinary and will rarely happen again. Be happy with comments like, “I read your book, loved it. I wish I could write like you.”
    You have an admirer – wonderful!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:06am

      Maureen
      Admirer? You and me both. Roger certainly pulls things into sharp focus.
      ~ Jonathan

      • April 3, 2014 at 11:09am

        Thank you, Jonathan. I do my best.

  • April 3, 2014 at 8:29am

    Hello Jonathan and Roger,

    Great post! I have a writer (and I use that term loosely) friend who is constantly surfing the net doing ‘research’ for his book. He will send me interesting snippets of articles that he thinks I should read but I really don’t have the time.

    I’m busy writing! It is way too easy to get distracted with all the social media not to mention television shows that have to be watched and a significant other who must be mollified every now and again.

    I’ve been after my friend for I don’t know how long–years–to start writing but it is always: when I’m ready. Don’t bug me about it so much. Then again he is married with kids and I appreciate people that do have a life opposed to someone like me who doesn’t.

    I am a huge proponent of making a schedule to write and sticking to it. I refuse to let anything distract me, which does have its drawbacks too. Marketing is essential too but lots of people end up going overboard with it, devoting way too much time to Twitter, Facebook, etc. when they should be writing.

    Like you say, Roger, if I sell a few books now and again, it makes me smile. Reviews are great. I’d love to be on the New York Times bestseller list for about a hundred years or so. Is it likely? No. I write because I love to write.

    Thanks again!

    Dan

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:10am

      Dan
      Re “…I am a huge proponent of making a schedule to write and sticking to it.”
      I’ve only recently been applying a proper daily schedule to what I do. The benefits were shockingly immediate, and also sobering because only now do I realize just how much time I have lost that I can never get back.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 1:09pm

      I find myself researching for about a month or two on a novel, but if I don’t spend some of that time writing character bios or background, I feel that my time is wasted. I’m currently researching for a new novel, reading medical journals about research into nanites and the brain, but I have been writing little scenes here and there when I think of them. The point is to not let the research get in the way of creating. Tell this to your friend, then kindly tell them to get busy writing.

    • Siana Hasley says:
      April 3, 2014 at 5:40pm

      I have to say that I am in the same boat as your friend. I am distracted by the goings-on around me and I have family of all shapes and sizes running around my house. A schedule? Ha! I wish. With a toddler, it’s hard to have anything on a schedule. I have been tempted to use a mommy and me daycare thing at a church so I could run home and do some much needed writing but that’s cheating I think. I wonder how those other moms did it. I think their kids must have been in school but that’s not my only excuse as I started my novel before my toddler was a twinkle in my eye. I have been stuck on what to do with a character and began doing research and never quit. I became enthused by the information I found and thought I should try some of it myself but never got around to that. All distractions. I really appreciate this article and this comment in particular because it really pertains to me. No excuses, I even went out and bought a keyboard to go with my iPad so I could write anywhere. I WILL write today. Voila! That feels good. :)

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        April 4, 2014 at 9:25am

        Siana
        Did you write today? Children are enormous time sinks, and drag your focus onto them, even when they’re quiet. This ragged time passes soon enough though, an later you’ll wish you had it again. So make the most of them as toddlers.
        Been there – even though I am only the Dad.
        ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 8:44am

    Interesting article and thank you for sharing! On the writer’s block question, I agree that some people use it as an excuse for not being dedicated or devoting time to their writing. However, I do believe it exists. I’ve written 36 novels now (29 published) but before I found my flow, I often suffered from writer’s block. It was usually when I couldn’t work out what I wanted to write, or after getting rejections, when I felt I was on the wrong path and couldn’t find my way out of the trees. Since settling to the genres I now write in, I haven’t suffered from it, but I do sympathise with those who do. It does exist, but it’s like a self-imposed barrier, and we need to see we’re the only ones who can break it down :-) Thanks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:17am

      Freya
      29 published novels? I’m staggered.
      You’ll be knocking off Barbara Cartland’s total next. :)
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 1:05pm

      Oh writer of so many novels, we grovel at your feet. Excellent work! You have left a mark on the world.

  • April 3, 2014 at 9:03am

    Jonathan. You always give me things to think about. Bringing Roger in was just what I’ve needed. I’ve been in a slump. I am a very good writer– too many people have told me to believe otherwise, but with some big changes in my life I can’t seem to find the confidence to get up off my butt and write. My standards of success have just changed thanks to you and Roger.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:16am

      Dannie
      We all need that boost, that kick in the pants. But we also need encouragement. Roger is a master of both, but then… he is a professional teacher.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 1:04pm

      Glad to help you! When I read about a writer being helped by anything I wrote it gives me such a boost. Thanks so much!

  • Elaine says:
    April 3, 2014 at 9:04am

    Hi Jonathan & Roger

    Absolutely agree with Roger regarding writers block – whether you are in a cafe or on public transport, there is always a story to tell. I love listening to people chat and love people watching when I have the time. Life does get in the way, I am a busy working Mum but we all should write because we love writing not because we want a best selling novel. The best advice I ever got when I was starting out as a writer “write about what you are passionate about and write about what you know.” I’ve had limited success with my first novel but I will never ever forget the sheer joy of seeing my wee novel on the shelf of a well known Leeds Bookshop in the UK.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:19am

      Elaine
      You too! I remember the day my first children’s book was published. Magic. On we go.
      ~Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 1:04pm

      Everyone has a story to tell. I tell my students this all the time, and many times their narratives surprise me. I once taught a student who had been to five countries before they were 13 (Navy brat) and would relate story after story in their writing about experiences they had abroad. I also taught another student who had never left their small shack, born to generational poverty, who wrote stories that revolved around the culture she lived in. Write what you know. It will never steer you wrong.

  • April 3, 2014 at 9:08am

    Hi you two, great to have two of my favourite posters in the one place!
    I don’t think I have a problem with ‘writers block’, although with my old brain anything is possible. I have more of a problem with fitting everything in and constantly worry that I might have forgotten something important.
    But despite all that, I am quietly confident that our writing life is pretty much on track. At least we enjoy what we are doing!
    Thanks for all the inspiration, past and present, you have both been an invaluable addition to our day…
    Jaye and Anita

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:22am

      Jaye
      One thing I learned at a very young age is that a little enthusiasm goes a long, long way. Your positivity just flows out. Always good to hear from you.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:58pm

      Thanks for reading! It is my hope that if I can just help one writer push past a problem I have done my job. Keep at it!

  • April 3, 2014 at 9:48am

    Great advice. Writers need all the encouragement they can get! I don’t care how often you read this sort of advice, it’s still good to hear.

    I certainly had a great break from writing; the first point, ‘Life’ and the phrase ‘more of an out of control avalanche’ could be an echo of the past four years. I’ve been guilty of letting events and others stop me each time I feel ready to write again. But I’m going to take your advice and write it down.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:14am

      Keith
      Re. “…more of an out of control avalanche..”
      An all too familiar sensation for me too a few years back. But recently I’ve been wrenching life into a semblance of alignment.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:56pm

      As Obi Wan says: “You have taken your first step to a larger world.”

  • Thomas Murphy says:
    April 3, 2014 at 9:54am

    When reading these posts, something that strikes me most strongly is how isolated the writing environment of so many writers seems to be. The author is performing a difficult and complex task and he or she is always doing it on their own. That cannot be conducive to maintaining drive and motivation.

    My partner is currently writing her first book. Obviously, most of the time it has to be a solo effort but I will be helping her to publish and market the book when it is ready and so I take an interest in her story – even though, as a bloke, I am not exactly her target audience! Far from it in fact!

    That having been said, I am perfectly capable of analysing a story for plot and character development, can help with plot dead ends and so on. In other words, when she needs me to do so, my partner can use me a sounding board and I have often been able to help her to understand why a plot device is not working or to tell her that what she thought she was conveying isn’t coming across. I can also reassure her that story elements about which she may not be confident do actually work as she intended.

    More to the point, because I will be her business partner, I can ask her what she needs to achieve, help her to break the projects down into discrete tasks with deadlines and work with her to ensure that she meets her writing targets. Sometimes, we have to accept that that means recalculating the targets because something did not work as expected or ‘real life’ got in the way. Even so, my partner has an external force working with her to keep her on track.

    What I am suggesting then is that writers should perhaps loook outside themselves a little. I appreciate that not everyone is in a position to follow the advice I am about to give but I would ask all of you to look closely at your circumstances and see if you can do something similar.

    If you are writing with the intention of being a commercial success, you need to treat your writing as a business. So far, so uncotnroversial. Everyone tells you that. So who said your business had to be a one-man band? Who said that you had to be an expert at everything? Who said you had to be managing director and office tea boy?

    In our case, I am looking after the technical side of things and I have the skills to edit and critique. I am also computer literate (I program for a living) so can deal with all the technical issues which we know will arise over the next year. As writers, maybe you should look around at the people in your life too.

    Are there family members or friends around you who would be prepared to act as project managers, editors, sounding boards for the plot, technical consultants, marketing gurus or whatever else it is you need to make a success of your writing?

    We live in an era of self-publishing and that is great. We have the greatest opportunity we have ever had to put our work in front of an audience without the dead hand of the traditional publishing gatekeepers. ‘SWelf-publish’ does not, however, mean ‘doing it all on my own without thinking of ways to do it as a joint venture with partners, family or friends’.

    A final word of warning: if anything I have just said resonates, then you need to think about:

    a. a written agreement which clearly defines rôles and responsibilities for all parties

    b. the rewards that should accrue to each member of the agreement (e.g. agreed percentages of any sales or net sa;es or however you want to define the profit split)

    c. an acknowledgement by all sides that they are entering into a speculative business venture and need to treat the project essentially as a start-up business

    d. agreed project plans to which members will be held

    e. any other stuff which is relevant to your situation – you know your circumstances better than I do. You may just need someone who knows the story and who keeps you honest to your dream. You may need more hard-nosed business skills than that. Think about it and work out how to get the resources you need that will genuinely help you.

    No-one can be everywhere and do everything. The biggest obstacle to creative writing is isolation and not having someone to share the load.

    I realise that what I have just said will not work for everyone – but you should at least think through your immediate and instinctive objections before you reject the concept out of hand.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:27am

      Thomas
      Re Isolation. You’ve hit one of the hot buttons.
      “…No-one can be everywhere and do everything. The biggest obstacle to creative writing is isolation and not having someone to share the load…
      Pretty much true that no man is an island. So it’s also true that we all need our team of supporters. Can’t have all the business and creative doors with ‘ME’ written on them.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:55pm

      I can truly say that a having a good writing group to be a part of is essential to good writing. As writers we cannot sit in a corner alone and write good writing. All great writers were part of some type of peer group of writers that helped to shape them into who they became. Even Mark Twain sought out fellow writers to hone his skills. The lone writer in his chamber is a myth.

  • April 3, 2014 at 10:20am

    Thanks for this. So true. Life does get in the way, but sometimes we use ‘life’ as an excuse for not being able to complete a piece of work. If we don’t finish we cannot fail. It is life’s fault, not ours.
    Writer’s block. Stop. Go out and garden, bicycle, take dog for walk. Your brain will unravel
    and decide if you are writing what you really want to write.
    Writing about what is happening to us at that moment is a way of capturing an outpouring of emotion and raw feelings, but that is what they are ‘raw’ and they need to be put in the dark away from the light of day to mature. When we get them out again we can view more objectively and ditch the anger, embarrassing or self- pitying but retain the heart and essence of the time.
    As writers our fortunes rise and fall, drift away, recover, occasionally take off. It really does only take readers telling us of the joy our books make to their lives, to make us feel we make a difference and keeps us writing.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 10:30am

      Sara
      Insightful analysis indeed. And the valuable reader feedback to which you refer is another good reason to see our readers as our team, our tribe and our long term readership, rather than just ‘sales’.
      ~ Jonathan

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:46pm

      When I get “writer’s block” I stop what I’m doing, go do something else, and my brain naturally finds the way through it…often without even trying too hard.

  • April 3, 2014 at 10:56am

    Repetitive strain injuries of seven years caused by an inappropriate computer work station at my job are the cause of my not performing as a writer in the way I’d like. Pain dictates daily how long I may write or if I will write at all. There is not much to do about it but be patient. On days when my hands, arms, neck, and shoulders make writing impossible or short-lived, I research, read something by someone else, of do something completely different. Weeks may pass, but I try to make the time useful in some way. Never underestimate the ability to work at a computer for hours and walking away without pain. http://MyTOSLife.blogspot.com

  • April 3, 2014 at 11:22am

    I can understand why so many authors get discouraged and give up after the first book. You go into this profession with high hopes of a debut bestseller then reality slaps you across the face. I just finished the first draft of my third book on Monday. I keep telling myself to celebrate the small victories like this instead of banking my worth on my book sales. The other thing I keep repeating is I probably won’t get discovered until book three through five. Overnight successis rare. I just have to get plugging away.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 7:39pm

      Kelly
      Re “… I probably won’t get discovered until book three through five”
      This is the case with over 95% of authors I estimate. Your best promotion is your next book. Plus see the ‘Phoenix’ effect, the more books on Amazon, the more they begin to cross-sell each other. The earlier ones that didn’t sell ‘rise from the ashes’ and begin to make sales. http://bestsellerlabs.com/why-your-amazon-kindle-book-will-be-far-bigger-than-you-imagine/
      ~Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 11:25am

    An inspiring article. I have published 4 books in The Mars Series, space/time adventures for young adults. I don’t sell many books, and I don’t mind too much. I write because I love to write. Like many others I feel uplifted when someone says how much they have enjoyed one of my books. I am currently in a period when I cannot get down to it, having lost my wife recently. It is an example of life getting in the way. I aim to heed Roger’s advice and write something, even if it is only a few words of nonsense. Thanks to you Jonathan for your help in bringing these posts to our day.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 7:48pm

      Chris
      Space / Time adventures for young adults? Heaven, pure heaven! See “The Boy From Andromeda” TV series I wrote for young adults a few years ago.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 11:40am

    Yesterday, I received the quarterly sale report from my publisher for my book, The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall, and it was disappointing. Although, this is a book that began selling very well when it first was published. I was invited to many important events for reading and book signing; even to Oxford University in the UK. Some readers have liked my book so much that have read it twice. However, yesterday, when I received the report, I was one disappointed author. Thanks to all your comments, I feel different today. I am going to fervently be looking for a good publisher to publish my new book which I’ve just completed.
    Thank you all, as well as Jonathan and Roger

    • Thomas Murphy says:
      April 3, 2014 at 12:28pm

      Armineh,

      I wonder if your real problem is that you have allowed your publisher to take control of your marketing.

      In any business, approximately 96% of your marketing effort is a complete waste of time. I forget how the aphorism goes but it is something like “Everyone knows that only 4% of marketing is effective. The problem is that no-one whichs 4% that is!”.

      To your publisher, you are just one author amongst however many they have in their stable. Just another livery horse to be hired out if anyone is interested.

      The only person who is – or should be – passionate about your books is you. The only person who cares enough to put your books in front of proespective readers is also you. Your publisher will divert x percentage of their marketing resources to you for y slice of time – and that is pretty much it unless you happen to be J.K. Rowling at the peak of her fame.

      What does that mean? It means you have to start taking control of your own creative writing business. Key phrase: take control. This is your destiny we are talking about, It does not belong to anyone else and they should have no say in determining its beginning, its scope or extent or when it should end. All ownership rights over your destiny belong to you.

      So – educate yourself in marketing techniques. Put some time aside each day or week to learn how the marketing people do what they do. Understand what seems to work and what, quite frankly, is a complete waste of time. Accept that 96% of whatever you choose to do will be a complete and utter waste of time. On average, to sell 4 books you need to reach 100 people who are interested in whatever sort of writing it is that you do. That’s a long term average, which means you have to reach lots and lots of hundreds to get each sale of four books!

      There are good ideas on marketing here and elsewhere on the internet. Better still, because the internet is a new and evolving way to sell to people, you can experiment with your own ideas as well.

      What are you really doing to market yourself and your books? Like it or not, if you want commercial success (a living) then you must treat your writing like a business. It needs a legal department, a product development department, an accounting department, a marketing department, a marketing department, a marketing department and – last but by no means least – a marketing department.

      In theatre land, they talk about “bums on setas”. In writing land, we might describe the problem as being one of putting “eyes on the page” – but the idea is still the same. If you are not broadcasting your ware, blowing your own trumpet, shouting from the rooftops and getting others to talk about you, praise you and recommend you, no other bugger will.

      By “shouting”, I do not mean screaming “Buy me! Buy me!”. Again, Jonathan discusses elsewhere the difference between engaging with potential customers and screaming at them.

      Finally, think about how best to “work smarter, not harder”. Think about how best to spend any given marketing hour. Is what you are proposing to do going to reach 10 people or 100 people? If you are only going to reach 10 people, and you have to invest time and effort into reaching those ten, is your proposal a good use of your time? Which 0.4 of a person is actually going to buy your book – and how will they persuade the unpersuaded 0.6 of themselves to part with the money?

      Summary: commercial writing is about marketing almost more than it is about the writing. Good writing without marketing support is just good, largely unknown writing. Good writing, mediocre writing and – sometimes – even bad writing with enough marketing oomph is bestselling writing.

      I have yet to hear of any woman who actually thought Fifty Shades Of Grey was a well-written story. Oddly enough, I know lots of women who bought it ….

      • April 3, 2014 at 12:42pm

        Such great advice here. Thank you so much! I think when I criticize 50 Shades, it is simply the English teacher in me lamenting the debasing of the English language…but she sold books.

        • April 5, 2014 at 2:46pm

          Dear Roger, 50 Shades! With much respect ‘She Sold Books’ is the ghastly money driven paradigm which makes today such a hellish place – while accounting for the vast amount of formulaic writing we find around (I reviewed for a bit but found it to appalling to continue) . Crooks sell rubbish by conning the public – Amazon hyped the bloody mess so she sold – debasing English and debasing the expectations of millions. Craftsmen craft, they craft well because they are proud of their use of the tools they use to create so Sophocles’s dictum concerning Man’s duty to serve Man with beauty is maintained – both Amazon and the author crapped on everything Sophocles spoke of to debase Human enterprise so the joy it gets from it perfected. Euphony in writing I deem to be a paramount – not least as a courtesy to your reader and the craft we wish to practice. When Man debases his craft he debases himself then Mankind around him Margaret Montrose.

      • April 3, 2014 at 11:28pm

        Dear Thomas,

        Thank you for such a great advice. You are right. I haven’t been spending much time on marketing my work. I was busy writing another book. Now that it is finished, I will definitely follow your advice.

        Thank you again,
        Armineh

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:45pm

      You are so welcome! Remember that success does not necessarily mean “best seller”, but there are ways to increase the sales you have, as the poster below has offered.

  • April 3, 2014 at 11:51am

    Well written. I absolutely loved the first paragraph. “Perhaps you have angel wings…”

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 7:55pm

      Vic
      Ha ha. Yes agree re unicorns, rainbows and all. But *sigh* we have to dream just a little from time to time yes?
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 11:58am

    This is such a great post.

    I nearly shouted ‘Yes!’ at the screen when I read the first distraction was ‘life’.

    It is so true that what we write does not necessarily correspond with how we may be feeling at that time. So, like you said, we may well be trying to write romance when our own love life is anything but romantic. I do agree that the best thing to do at that point is to write about it. Personally, I find that no-holds-barred, stream-of-consciousness writing is always helpful, as it gets rid of whatever is lingering. I’ve actually got a whole folder on my computer of these diatribes – who knows when they might come in useful for something?!

    Not to sound pretentious, but as writers we have this incredible ‘tool’ available to us that we can utilise to paint pictures, tell stories, and communicate messages. Why wouldn’t we use it to purge ourselves of the bad thing that happened today, so that we can get if off our chests and get on with other things?

    Thanks again for this post!

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:40pm

      My blog is the place where this happens, usually, but I also have a private journal that I record every day. I use the “Memories” app for Mac, which even reminds me to write every day. If I can get it on the screen or on the page, I know that I can get something together that will eventually turn into something worthwhile.

  • April 3, 2014 at 12:12pm

    Dear Roger, ADHD is another name for being at the top end of the super-creative scale – I know as my wife is a Special Needs Supremo and classes me as such – but I ran my own design-engineering manufacturing Co. for 40 years from a number of Design Awards while possessing an enormous range of personal skills. Forget the bloody silly PC names and be grateful for the creativity – it sets us above the run-of-the-mill and now, as a novelist in my early ’70s, I love every minute of my life as my flaring imagination drives me forward – it is a huge privilege.

    John Buchan wrote in ‘The Novel & The Fairy Tale’ a pamphlet he was asked to write for The English Association (1930) – ‘Write about what you know’. He always did which is why his romances are so powerful as they are anchored in his extremely wide personal experience. At 72 mine are too, if you add ‘flaring imagination’ ‘Writers Block’ becomes a myth, as you rightly say. 2 books of my Quintet The Golden Path (1.5 M words), with 3 to go and I am crackling on all cylinders – thank got for a good wordprocessor. I don’t have to ‘face the blank sheet’ the stuff comes pouring out of me 24/7 – whose secret, as Dickens and Thackeray noted, is living with your characters 24/7 – conducting life in their world – whose further secret is having a ‘writers notebook’ with me 24/7 as well as one (with light) by my bedside to catch the synaptic clashes at 3 in the morning – some of the ‘best’ ideas and associations have come to me this way.

    I know the last secret! Creating a unique story with enormously strong characters people can ally with and ‘love’ then having them travel a journey (we all love journeys) NOT following a pre-fabricated plot to a pre-determined ‘STOP’ – there is a great deal too much ill-written, formulaic, ‘I manufactured it off the TV soaps and The Plot Whisperer’ stuff about. Thanks for the ‘poke’ Jonathan and Roger, Yours VS Margaret Montrose

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:39pm

      Such great insight! I always love to hear from those who have lived long on the earth because they always have the most wise perspectives. Yours, sir, is no exception to this. Your words are more valuable to me than you know.

      • April 4, 2014 at 8:22am

        Most Kind Roger, the other element is that I am an engineer – ‘Man is a toolmaker’ said Thomas Carlyle, so making things – machines/books embodies the same disciplines.

        The writers block thing is prevented by the use of the Writers Notebooks because as notes accrue during the day ( or night if they do) then when the time is ripe I just sit down to graft them into the text – that grafting fires ideas…ideas…ideas ad libitum. The final understanding here is I NEVER write if my people aren’t driving me because the result is manufactured dross. When I am cantering after them gems are the line because IT IS THEY WHO CREATE THEM. The other two are these:

        First language, I happen to write almost entirely in speech so as it flows words suggest words suggest words suggest ideas…ideas…ideas purely through the use of language for which an enormous vocabulary is a must – I have a 1,000 bk classical library all read form when I started to educate myself at about 55 when I quit engineering.

        The Second is ‘Editing’ though I prefer to call it ‘re-creation’ and polishing which I consider to be about 7/10ths of the productive process. Working through the text again and again, ad libitum, opens further polishing and more ideas – the process never stops for which I have developed a tool (it is what engineers do). I do believe those who are not prepared to bust-a-gut on this essential of the creative process shouldn’t be writing because the acid test is that if you still ‘love’ your people and the euphony of what you have written then others will too.

        The whole bang shoot is encapsulated in my Essay ‘How I write Romance & Editing & The Craft of Words’ which any may have free from margaret@thegoldenpath.co.uk as I am happy to proselytise in the interest of good writing.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          April 4, 2014 at 9:18am

          Margaret
          Note making also takes the pressure off to produce the ‘masterpiece’ right then and there. But the ideas are still captured. (I always end up with reams of notes.)
          ~ Jonathan

          • April 5, 2014 at 3:01pm

            Dear Jonathan, indeed they do but further because they keep the story-line alive 24/7.,

            A Masterpiece is The Apprentice’s final piece he makes to prove his mastership to his masters – which is judged solely by masters of the craft (I’ve been involved in exactly this). It takes bloody years – which is what any masterpiece should. I probably spend 80% of my time ‘masterpiecing’ having served some 15 years now assiduously practicing the craft. The saddest thing about virtually all skills these days is that, since ideas like Mastership being so Un-PC, no-one makes masterpieces now so the result is vast quantities of dross – to the denigration of writing as well as the impoverishment of those who read. As Buchan noted ‘The Finest education one can have is moving amongst Great Men’ My large library consists of little else – but then I came to the positive buisness of educating myself after I had ceased to be an engineer – manual first then the mental because then you have an anchor for the mental (Carlyle Ruskin Morris and Me!) Yours Margret Montrose. PS I really did find the period I spent reviewing dreadful as not only was the language seriously debased and crude – so horrid to read – but construction clumsy and character cardboard!

  • Margaret Taylor says:
    April 3, 2014 at 12:27pm

    Roger,

    Now, don’t be messin’ with Bob!! We agreed when I told you about my commuter mode of transportation. Angel-Food is the *best* smell for a Unicorn!!!!!

    But seriously, I couldn’t agree more with your article, I really couldn’t. I have to honestly say I’ve fallen into each of these traps, especially the last here of late. More so the last than the other two.

    Life is life. I’ve learned to deal with it and move on. I can only control so many things – and I do – but the rest of it, you just have to roll with. “The Block” isn’t as bad as you think. I do two things when I fell one looming over me. I imagine it like a cinder block wall in my head and start by removing one brick at a time. Oh, and I give myself permission to write complete and utter crap for a few days…after all anything can be fixed in editing, right???

    And I also realized something and re-defined my definition of Success. A bit. I’d still like to hit NYT and/or USA and that’s a goal for 2014, but I have eight more months and at least six books to put out this year. So, yeah, it’s doable and I’m not stressing about it. And if I don’t hit it, well there’s always next year!

    Thanks for the article though. It helps to know others feel the same…:D

    Margaret Taylor

    • April 3, 2014 at 12:37pm

      Writing utter crap for a few days is awesome! I have actually found some gems in that crap from time to time (this metaphor is getting disgusting). Sounds like you are on the right track, my friend. Keep at it!

      • Margaret Taylor says:
        April 3, 2014 at 12:41pm

        *laughs* Yeah, most of it ends up being worthy of ye olde pooper-scooper, but occasionally I too find a nugget worth keeping! (Sorry, my quirky sense of humor and lack of Diet Coke this AM couldn’t stop me from doing it!)

        Thanks for the encouragement though! Much appreciated!!!!

        PS: And thanks to Jonathon for always having the best guest bloggers on this site! You Sir, are awesome!

  • April 3, 2014 at 12:39pm

    What a great article! Shared it with my writing group.

    Love what you said about writer’s block being a myth! We have to chase down our muse and dig deep for that creativity.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:08pm

      Thanks for that! Happy writing.

  • Pam Long says:
    April 3, 2014 at 12:44pm

    Jonathan,
    Once again you provide truth and wisdom for us – this time in the form of Roger’s guest post. I think there might even be a couple more but these three really hit home for me. Just being able to ask myself how I measure success was a biggie! What encouragement for today!
    Thanks, guys!

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:08pm

      Glad to be of help.

  • April 3, 2014 at 12:57pm

    So basic but so true. The “Life” bit has smacked me upside the head these past few weeks since I jumped into an emergency teaching position for the rest of the school year. I had my writing schedule planned out through June. Let’s just say I’ve had to do some major revising.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:09pm

      I just took over a 5 week adjunct course at a local university. I know exactly what you mean…:)

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:01pm

    When I’m stuck I do one of three things:

    1. Say to myself, “It doesn’t have to be good, just write. Fix it later.”

    2. Talk to my husband and tell him what my stumbling block is. He usually has a good, objective point of view I haven’t thought of. I can take his comment and get going.

    3. Get away from my screen. Take a walk or do housework just to get myself free. Then, I start to write in my head — testing out ideas and words. Somehow, the varying activity is freeing.

    The man with whom I am co-writing “The Purpose Is Profit” says that an outline helps him. He just follows it. But I usually stray from the outline when the writing starts flowing. I can’t always fit the writing into the boxes we’ve created.

    I hope this helps other writers.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:09pm

      Great advice! Thank you so much.

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:03pm

    Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks for your article, it definitely hit home. I seem to be suffering from all three blocks at once.
    Re life: I just had an accident causing fractures and whiplash and am on muscle relaxants that mess with my mind, not to mention housebound for weeks.
    Re writers block: I finished TWO sequels to my first novel, but my readers don’t like either one and I can’t bring myself to change them.
    Re frustration over poor sales: I expected that, so not surprised. But the cost of editing, publishing, and marketing another book is more than I can put on the table. So how can I move forward?
    K

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:10pm

      It’s ok. Keep at it. Eventually something will break through. Get in a writing group and test out the work you are doing. Take their advice. You won’t be sorry.

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:17pm

    This is a really good article that reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles to continue walking on the writing path. Personally, I’ve realized that all three are issues for me, but the one about writer’s block struck home. Although I don’t experience it often, and I don’t call it a “block”, I have had times when I’m just not sure what to write next, or when I’m drawing a blank at a certain point(s) in a story. At those times, I try to make myself sit at the computer and just write something – anything, and see were it takes me. It seems to work, along with daily scheduling to give myself the time to accomplish the tasks. I liken writing to life; it is a journey, not a destination. Well done Jonathan and Roger.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:11pm

      Thank you, and here is to breaking through the creative wall we create for ourselves.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 7:56pm

      Always look forward to your comments Debbie.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:35pm

    I write every day. No matter what. A bestselling author of writing, Peter Elbow, wrote an early book on freewriting called “Writing Without Teahers.” I had the privilege of taking a class in college from him back in the stone age, and his methods helped free me from the scourge of writer’s block – or lazy block. Your suggestion is basically that class in a nutshell. Write something. Back then, before computers (really!) the method was to keep the pencil moving, even if in circles and doodles, and not stop. When words started, it did not matter if they were gibberish. Evenutally, something came out, then something better. After a while, sitting before the keyboard on my iMac or iPad is like a Pavlovian response – my fingers start going crazy. It is hard to stop. Love it!

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:13pm

      Some of my best ideas come from gibberish and writing things down. I love doing it, and look forward to writing gibberish often.

  • Diane says:
    April 3, 2014 at 1:37pm

    Great article! Now back to writing my novel. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 7:57pm

      Diane
      That’s the spirit. Shoulder to the wheel.
      ~ Jonathan

  • art colaianni says:
    April 3, 2014 at 1:38pm

    Hi Roger,

    Laurels for administering to the lame and halting of our craft, and I wouldn’t imagine there’s ever been a writer (including Thomas Paine and Plato) who was bulletproof enough not to get distracted by life or have personal problems encroach. If I get your overall message, it’s hard to argue with it all being in the state of mind. Though, wouldn’t it follow then that believing it’s a much more harsh environment for writers be an unhealthy outlook, and the more one agrees they are sensitive, with skin removed, have the tendency to make it so, or more so? Being a novelist with three decades a professional work as a cognitive counselor, I agree with your suggestion of how to help yourself overcome writer’s block, but to say that such a thing is a myth controverts that it happens. What I like most about this piece is “…be realistic about dreams because in truth the best seller is not the best success you can have as a writer.” Yes, if you’re in the business end of writing, than it’s about selling books, therefore needing to please others, but is it also true that the more one is dependent upon pleasing others in order to be happy as a writer the more he/she will puts themselves at their mercy? It’s a rather effect position, opposed to remaining cause. Be yourself, write from your own fevered dreams, damn the imagined torpedoes of others sentiments, don’t require your happiness be requisite upon others, and you’ll be more yourself and your writing will be stronger and likely sell more. It’s a marvelous feeling to move someone to tears, but don’t forget your most valuable commodity – personal integrity – and don’t need praise, or even approval. With such an attitude, when it comes it will be all the sweeter, and being yourself, it will usually happen more often. –art

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:16pm

      Truth. Herman Melville was a complete failure in sales receipts, but wrote probably some of the most profound work of the 1800′s in America, possibly the world. Nathaniel Hawthorne, his friend, enjoyed great monetary success through his writing, and took Melville under his wing financially, helping his family survive their hardships. Together they edited and critiqued each other’s work. This produced great writing in both of them. I would consider Melville a success because he contributed so much to American literature. I think about Melville often, trying to live his example.

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:52pm

    As always, Jonathan, your articles rock.

    You mentioned getting back on the horse, Roger, and you mentioned dreams.

    One of my dreams took me out of the house and into a field, where three of my characters were sitting bareback on a horse. There was a small hill in front of the troupe and as I approached from behind, the characters spun their heads my way. Then the horse twisted his neck around and said, “Well?”

    Boy did I yank my ass out of bed and start writing.

    My point is: Inspiration is everywhere. I could have stressed over that dream, and a few years ago I may have, but part of this process is learning to recognize what drives us.

    If I’m not able to leave a massive inheritance behind, then so be it. I’m doing this because I love it. Money is green stuff and you need it, but if money were my driving force, the horse would have turned around and said, “Pay me, bitch,” and I would have walked away.

    Where’s the inspiration in that?

    Thank you for the wisdom and support you guys send our way. It really does help.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:18pm

      I am inspired by the dreams I have because I dream so vividly. They wake me in the night, and I have to have something near my bed to write them down. Inspiration is indeed everywhere. Elizabeth Bishop, an American poet, was inspired by everyday household items. It is indeed everywhere.

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:57pm

    Nice post. It’s comforting to be in the company of pros, and I’m including the ones who have posted comments.

    I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block. An occasional hesitation, yes, but never a full-blown block. I just don’t time for that sort of thing.

    And yes, life sometimes does intrude. But I actually look at that as a sort of blessing. If life ever does stop intruding, I’ll know I’m in trouble. Or dead. Look, if my protagonist can navigate all the twists and turns of life, why can’t I? Fact is, I can.

    This post is an intrusion. But how sweet it is.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:19pm

      Life also teaches us valuable lessons as writers. I tend to sit up and listen when “class” begins.

  • Rita Monette says:
    April 3, 2014 at 2:29pm

    Great post. And all so true. I am careful not to call it writer’s block when I’m stuck in a WIP…for fear I will actually catch it.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 7:59pm

      A fair point Rita. Never speak its name!
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 2:53pm

    Thanks, Roger, for relating true success to people’s emotions. As a former teacher, I know how difficult it is to teach the art of writing. At a recent Fair, I sold my books on grief and healing to people who were still hurting. They were tearing up. What a great feeling to connect and know I’m making a difference. I wish you the best. Thank you too, Jonathan, for always being right on.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:20pm

      The connection is indeed much more important to me than sales. Thanks for commenting.

  • April 3, 2014 at 3:12pm

    Roger and Jonathan:
    Let’s take them in order.
    1. Life: “Write what happened today.” This is ridiculous. If you are paying attention to life, you aren’t immersed in the work at hand. Once work ends, that’s when you can resume life. If the life you live isn’t amenable to this arrangement, you will need to make changes, either to your notion of yourself as a writer, or to your life.
    2. Writer’s block is a myth. I agree with this completely. Writer’s block is either a means by which people who like thinking of themselves as writers but who can’t write sustain the illusion–or, it’s an un-ignorable message from the unconscious that what you’re doing on the page is screwed up.
    3. Shattered dreams of success. Here again, I essentially agree with you. But I would add this, and it has become conventional wisdom in the world of indie writing. Do not siphon off creative energy by devoting lots of time to marketing, or to cogitating over what hasn’t happened. Instead, write the next book, and while you’re doing this, work out the plan for the one after that. It’s the best way to improve the odds.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:22pm

      My life often teaches me so much about writing. I am at heart a constant observer, and many of the people in my life end up in my books in one way or another. These are some very good points and all are indeed valid. Thank you so much for contributing. We always learn from one another.

      • April 3, 2014 at 5:57pm

        Roger–
        You replied before I could reprove myself for being rude in my comment on your guest post. There’s nothing wrong with being direct, but rudeness has no place here. Please chalk it up to a bald man’s version of a bad hair day,.

  • April 3, 2014 at 3:57pm

    I live a very isolated life, partly because I write better when immersed in my own little world, partly because of a decade of ME/CFS, but even when the only people I meet are online there are still so many of them telling me what I SHOULD be doing. Over the past 24 hours I’ve been locked in this battle with a very good sales letter that has made me think I should become a copywriter and make the kind of fabulous money that could launch my career as a sci-fi & fan historical & archaeological mystery romance writer (couldn’t figure out which genre so I cross them all :-)) into the stratosphere. Right brain was bullying me, saying “It’s the responsible thing to do! You’ll manage to keep writing your novels with clever manipulation of time!”; while left brain, huddling in a corner, was trying to get a word in sideways in its much smaller voice, “but don’t you need that time for the creative process, and the other parts of life that you already don’t handle so well?” And now? The tiny, easily trampled flower of my creativity says NO to the cyber bullies of the email inbox. Now I remember that I’m NOT a copywriter! I’m a novelist – penniless, yes, but a novelist no less.
    Thank you, Roger and Jonathan,
    Tally :-)

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:25pm

      You and I have much in common in that we both work in writing careers as a day job. At least you get to hone your skills at your job, even if it is copywriting. Having a good background in grammar and usage is something lost on many of the writers who send novels to me for editing services.

      • April 3, 2014 at 6:51pm

        Thanks, Roger! It’s the university lecturer in me that never dies, no matter how far I manage to get from its gates … but I need to listen to me the novelist now and allow her the time to just think, and your article confirms that, so today can be considered a profitable one indeed :-).

  • April 3, 2014 at 4:10pm

    Very good article. I have written eight novels now and have moderate success with them. Yes, I would love to be discovered by someone who can shoot me to the top, but life is what it is and I will enjoy it to the end despite the outcome. I write because I love to write and tell stories. The happy fan mail is a definite plus. People think that if you write several books, you make a ton of money. In truth, without the up front cost to promote my books, I’m barely breaking even. But … that is not why I write. The stories I tell are figments of truth that most of us do not see. I offer but a glimpse at the veiled puzzle piece of life that leaves clues in our history without explanation. Humans are not the only beings on Earth—they never have been.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:26pm

      “I write because I like to write” pretty much says it all. Either you do or you don’t. Plain and simple.

  • April 3, 2014 at 4:14pm

    Go a whole year without writing??? I think I would die.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 8:00pm

      Me too Jen.
      ~ Jonathan

  • J.L. Bond says:
    April 3, 2014 at 4:19pm

    Thank you, Jonathan & Roger, for the words of wisdom and encouragement. I consider myself to be a realist, which means #2 and #3 aren’t much of a problem for me. Now, let’s talk about #1 LIFE….argh! As soon as I typed those words a little voice in my head said, “Quit your belly-aching! Be happy you have a life and just WRITE!”

    It sounds so easy, sort of. Most days, I begin by thinking, I’m going to finish writing that scene (phone rings) or edit this chapter (incoming email) or do that proofreading (Doctor Who news on tweeter)…you get the point. And don’t even get me started on social media–oops! Why yes, that is what I’m doing at this very moment. I’m beginning to think I may have discovered a new psychological disorder, AADD, Author’s Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe I should start a support group. :)
    J.L. Bond Co-author of The Primortus Chronicles
    Coming to a theater near you soon…NOT! I told you I was a realist.

    • April 3, 2014 at 4:26pm

      I think I have AADD, too. :)

  • April 3, 2014 at 4:44pm

    Agree with one and two. These are easy to fix. Not sure about #3: if u already spend plenty of money on promotion, it is going to be hard to “redefine success” like this. It turns your writing essentially into a very expensive hobby.

    • April 3, 2014 at 5:15pm

      That’s why I have researched and spent time on marketing strategies that don’t cost a dime or cost only a few dimes.

      • April 3, 2014 at 9:59pm

        Do they work? If so, which ones? I have to admit the usual ones (twitter etc) don’t work for me.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          April 4, 2014 at 2:38am

          Rene
          Twitter works if is used interactively to build a ring of supporters. (e.g.) Bring people across to an author blog where you build a reader mailing list. It definitely doesn’t work if used as an ‘advertising’ medium. Here’s a blog that explains why:
          http://bestsellerlabs.com/most-effective-author-social-media-method/
          ~Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 5:29pm

    A very good and informative article, thanks for sharing this. It’s good to know I am not the only one out there falling into these traps. Although I will say that for me, number 1 and number 3 are the biggest problems I have faced, I will also venture to say that I feel that for any of us, it could be any combination at different times. I feel that at least, speaking for myself, it has been a matter of finding a balance, which is at times harder than others. In other words, I find I need to make sure that I take my time to go out to the park and walk or hike the trails at Raven Rock State Park, or just get out for a bit and do whatever I need to do to get refreshed and this in turn provides the renewal I need.

    This being said, I am not only a grandmother, with my oldest daughter and my little one year old grandson living with me for now until she can get on her feet, and at times her older son, who is 6, and my other daughter visiting from time to time with her son, who is turning 6 April 5th, which provides for a hectic environment at times, but I am also going through a divorce.

    It seems there is always something that needs to be done, and at times, especially when my older daughter gets a job as she is completing an online business degree, so I will of course be pulling “grandma duty”, which usually leaves me with little time to write. So number one is definitely a biggie with me right now. Life just plain gets in the way, leaving me discouraged and frustrated at times, just because of how hard it is not getting time to write.

    Number 3, yes, I am “guilty as charged”, ha ha. I went and met Nicholas Sparks at one of his book signings a while back. So you can imagine the “visions of grandeur” that have been in my head since then. I walked out of there that day from the B & N saying, “if he can do it I can”. But my visions have been shot down with the lack of progress of my first book, “Return to Freedom, Voices in the Wind”, which I self published on Amazon through Createspace. It is pretty much doing nothing but sitting there right now, as you said, despite my efforts to work through Facebook, through my author page on there, promotions, which most of my so called fb friends have ignored. I am on a limited income right now, so I cannot afford most of the options that are offered to help with marketing, editing and so forth.

    I have other projects I am working on, which I hope will do better than my first. But I have to admit, I have been discouraged to the point of giving up lately, largely due to the lack of progress of my first work, and as you said, “life” getting in the way. So yes, for me, 1 and 3 for sure, although I can only push on, in hopes of my other projects I am working on paving the way for things to improve for me soon. At least I hope so. My latest: a surprise spur of the moment project which I feel the great Author gave me to boost my confidence, which I am calling “River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”. I am very excited about it and feel it will appeal to a wide scope of audiences. I completed it in 5 months, and am now editing it.

    Sorry to write you a book here, guess you can see that in spite of my discouragements, I am very passionate about my work, and determined to succeed. So, onward and forward. I must write, and to write I must. Giving up is simply not an option. Again, thank you for a very enlightening and informative article.

    • April 3, 2014 at 6:20pm

      No matter how little or how many you sell, someone is indeed reading your book. I’ve found that using a Kindle give-away has been very beneficial to steady book sales. Offer it for free on Kindle for 5 days and then use all of the free Kindle book announcement sites out there (just google them). After this, only offer the book for $2.99 at the most and check 70% profit. I sell about 15-20 books a month steadily, and consider that to be great since I have 0 money to spend on marketing. Keep at it. Something is about to give in your career. If you spend any money at all, then spend it on editing. It’s the one thing for which you will get the greatest return. Nobody likes to read a book full of errors.

  • April 3, 2014 at 7:21pm

    I like, and relate to, what Roger has to say about success but I see it as a consolation prize rather than a gold medal.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 3:18am

      I imagine you still enjoy the ‘vocational’ productivity of writing Thomas.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 7:24pm

    Roger is 100% right! Just write! swk

  • April 3, 2014 at 8:37pm

    I am in complete agreement. Two things I am famous for saying are, “I don’t believe in Writer’s Block”, and “writers write”. Everything else is just excuses. We also share the same definition of success. (So doesn’t it just dunk your hat in the water when Amazon reviewers rave about how they cried for this character or that, or wax poetic on how they could not shake the characters or the story from their minds for hours after they closed the book…and then give you 4 stars instead of 5, BECAUSE they couldn’t shake it? I know authors are crazy, but I think reviewers should check themselves, too.) Nice post!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 3, 2014 at 9:15pm

      Anne
      I feel your pain! I had a quick look at the reviews for your books ‘Bodie’ and ‘Thing with Feathers’. I see what you mean. One big issue I have with Amazon’s review system is the disconnect between the reviewer’s intention and a reader’s perceptions: When a reader gives 4 stars, they often mean that an author didn’t quite match Jane Austen. Nearly, but not quite, which is in fact high praise. But book buyers on Amazon don’t see this. They simply read 5 Stars as meaning OK to buy, and anything less… don’t bother. Fortunately you DO have six 5 star reviews for Bodie on Amazon.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Marq Hewer says:
    April 3, 2014 at 9:20pm

    Hi,

    I have one published book (The Curse Of The Emerald Serpent) which I self-published and the second part of the trilogy out soon. I have a full-time job in a warehouse so I work on writing for about 4 hours at night. I have had writer’s block and the way I get around it is my secomd love; poetry.
    I have a large collection of poems which I plan to put in a book or two when the trilogy is over. Having a full-time job like mine lets my mind wonder and the notebook in my back pocket busy. Ok, so I haven’t sold that many ebooks and maybe a dozen or so paperbacks, but my ‘success’ was to actual write and publish a book myself. I’ve had the promo days etc on Twitter but that was a way of getting followers and trying to connect with other authors.
    Writing to me is a release from ‘normal’ life and just letting go. I have a degree in Software Engineering but prefer to write books and poetry rather than computer software.

  • April 3, 2014 at 9:21pm

    An excellent post. Writers write – just do it.
    Although I am between novels I’ve been busy critiquing other writers’ work and writing posts. My measure of success is getting published. – and I am, with 6 e-books. Although sales have dwindled I still consider myself successful and have just submitted another novella to a pubisher. Several publishers like my work sufficiently enough to edit, create cover art and publish it. My poetry gets published as well. What more can a girl dream of? If the world hasn’t discovered me yet – too bad, I’ve disdcovered myself and I’m loving it.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 3:21am

      Virginnia
      6 eBooks is a considerable number to have written. Do you connect them all up for readers? Do you put a link to the next one in the back of each? Here’s how:

      Goodreads CEO Reveals An Amazingly Easy Way To Sell More Books
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/goodreads-ceo-reveals-how-to-sell-more-books/

      ~ Jonathan

  • April 3, 2014 at 9:41pm

    Thanks Roger and Jonathon
    Right now I’m slogging away at a WIP, and getting everything in place for my next free days promo. My partner tells I’m crazy:”Why are you wasting your time on another book,” he says, “when nobody has read the other three?” How do others cope with criticism from partners who resent the time involved in writing and promotion?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 3:28am

      Ann
      It’s not surprising that people close to you become resentful of your focus. But they also need to recognize the truth about your writing. It’s beyond criticism or the need for any explanation. It isn’t about money or a ‘job’. Instead it is all about YOU being YOU. It’s who you are. It’s about being true to yourself, and that is central to human existence. Let me quote part of a widely known article: (You need the support.)

      From… ’5 Regrets Of The Dying’.
      “… For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
      When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.
      “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
      This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

      Lastly, enjoy this insightful 30 second Ray Bradbury video in this post – “You just gotta do it!” It’ll support what you’re feeling.
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-key-to-growing-readership/

      ~ Jonathan

  • annie says:
    April 3, 2014 at 11:01pm

    Thank you Jonathan and Roger. Great article. I loved it.
    I am one of those writers that needs a kick in the ass every now and again. I cannot open my computer and check e-mails, social networks or tweak my blogs. I have to get to my book and only my book. The only reason to go on the internet is for research.
    Otherwise I end up not writing one sentence. Thanks for that kick in the ass. I will be busy tomorrow, Writing..Oh and when I sell a book its a happy day in my house. I don’t need to be a best selling author. That’s not why I write. I write to get the stories out of my head. And along the way if I can touch one reader with my words I’m happy…

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 3:39am

      Annie
      Then… you’ll love this Ray Bradbury video about writing.
      He discovered something at a certain point; He was no longer writing to the left of himself, or to the right of himself, but FOR himself, and it all began to catch fire
      Ray Bradbury’s Writing Secret Revealed – How He Sold Over 8 Million Books
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-sell-8-million-books
      ~Jonathan

  • April 4, 2014 at 12:07am

    Thanks for such a great post Jonathan and Roger. I am working on my first novel. It seems like I have been trying to plot it forever and unfortunately no writing is getting done! I do not have writer’s block, in fact, I think the opposite is true for me. I have so many ideas, and I will try to plot it out and do some character sketches, and then bam! I am hit by another idea that takes me on a different direction! It seems like I am on one tangent or another, and none of them are panning out for me. I read and study a lot of the the writer’s manuals and sometimes wonder if I am not reading too much, researching too much, because I am not writing. That is, not outside of character biographies and ideas. I feel like I am spinning my wheels sometimes. I don’t hear too many writers with this issue, or maybe they are admitting it. I have had a lifelong dream of writing. I don’t have unreasonable expectations, I really never have. I have always wanted to write for me, to express myself, and hope that some readers along the way like my words. I guess my question is this, should I just try to start writing and deal with the plotting along the way, or should this be done completely before writing? I feel like if I just start writing, I am going to get stuck and not know where I am going, yet with not writing, I am not going anywhere either. I hope I have explained this coherently. :) Thanks for your help!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 2:50am

      Rebecca
      I know ALL about the flap and fragmentation to which you refer. (I’m one of the worst.)
      The solution: Start writing. I knows this sounds dead obvious, and you definitely need the semblance of a plot. But when you head down the corridor of putting those words down, other story doorways will suddenly open when you least expect them. This helps tremendously to reveal whether your story and plot will work, or what alterations it might need. Some writers just leap into the dark without a plot – they’re known as Pantsers – writing by the seat of your pants.
      My view is discover by doing once you have a rough plan, not by ever more planning.
      See Maeve Binchy on this subject. http://bestsellerlabs.com/maeve-binchy-her-writing-secrets-interview/
      ~ Jonathan

      • April 7, 2014 at 6:36am

        Great advice! Thanks Jonathan! What wonderful words of advice from Mauve Binchy. I have heard of her books, of course, but have never read them. I will have to remedy that. This helped me quite a bit..thank you! :)

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          April 7, 2014 at 9:33am

          Rebecca
          Start with ‘Light a Penny Candle’.
          ~ Jonathan

  • April 4, 2014 at 3:41am

    I think sometimes writers block is laziness and sometimes it’s fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of exposure. The best writing is personal, even if it’s fiction. We writers spend years hiding from the world by retreating into our stories. Making the switch from writer to author means inviting the world in, and if you think about it too much—it’s terrifying.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 3:51am

      Tammy
      ‘Fear of Being Judged’ is a major cause of Writer’s Block. Here is a article on the subject. It should strike a big chord with you. To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.
      On Writing And The Fear Of Being Judged (‘Writer’s Block’)
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 4, 2014 at 6:25am

    Thank you, Jonathan!

    You have brought in Roger just at a phase I am at, that this article fits in perfectly! My first fiction novel ‘slow…’ has received good reviews, but since it’s not selling enough, I have been slightly bogged down from starting my next. I have been thinking about it and Roger, you have put the word ‘success’ into perspective… :) Thank you! I will move on…

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 9:15am

      Dignota
      It’s along haul for all of us. So join Roger’s band of long term sloggers and you’ll get there in the end. The next book is always the key, the best promotion you can do. Each book sells the others. This compounds the more you write.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 4, 2014 at 8:36am

    This is a fantastic article and so close to the bone you will never realise, don’t want to dull your day with my personal tragedy. This piece has shown me a way forward thanks to Roger and Jonathan, great work guys.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 9:20am

      Chris.
      Perhaps the fire you’ve been walking through will make you even more determined. Looking forward to your work.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 4, 2014 at 3:13pm

    Roger and Jonathan,

    Wow – so it’s not just me! ;) Number One is my number one, and I agree completely with Roger’s “way out.” Writing about those problems gets them out of my head and on paper, where they suddenly become manageable, and where – once I read what I have written – I usually realize those problems aren’t as monumental as they initially appeared. Feelings can be unreliable because they are subject to external influence, so even us fiction writers have to step back and take a look at the facts of life now and then. Once I separate reality from the raving of the drama queen my imagination can sometimes be, I’m good to go. The added benefit is that Life Experiences often become fodder for a future character’s life experiences or for a blog topic.

    Re dreams of success: having my first novel published is my dream come true. Receiving feedback from readers who comment that they fell in love with the characters, can hardly wait for the second book in the series, and that the story seems so real that it could have really happened – that is my success. Of course I want to sell thousands of copies – what writer doesn’t want that? – but knowing that my readers, be they few or many, are enjoying my work is not only success, it’s Heaven on Earth.

    Writer’s block is a foreign concept to me. I will never live long enough to write all the stories clamoring for my attention.

    Thank you, Roger and Jonathan, for a wonderful article! Much joy and success to both of you today!

    ~ ACTownsend

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 10:17pm

      Angela
      Regarding “…knowing that my readers, be they few or many, are enjoying my work is not only success, it’s Heaven on Earth.”
      This spotlights one of the advantages of being a writer: IDENTITY.
      “I am a writer.” How many people can say this? How many even know who they are?
      ~ Jonathan

      • April 5, 2014 at 11:28pm

        So true. Knowing yourself as a writer, having that confidence in your own identity, is a comfort and a joy. Being recognized and acknowledged by others as a writer is a genuine treasure.

  • C J Beck says:
    April 4, 2014 at 3:23pm

    Only three?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 4, 2014 at 10:07pm

      We try to be encouraging CJB. :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 4, 2014 at 4:07pm

    Ahhhh! My greatest challenge is procrastination. I was born with it — and there is no pill. I’ve checked. But today is a good day. Once I get to-going, I’m good, but the rev (sp?) up is a killer. When I read, in black and white: “There are not blocked writers only lazy writers.” I cringed. I substituted procrastinators: There are not PROCRASTINATORS, only lazy writers. Humph! Felt a little indignant. Internal dialogue: “I know I am NOT lazy, so I will stop acting like it.”

    Seriously, THANK YOU for this swift kick in the pants, Roger. I needed it!

    Okay, now back to the romance novella at hand: Heart’s Desire under the Taribou Moon. I will finish this baby today so I can begin editing tomorrow.

    Cassandra Black

  • April 4, 2014 at 5:18pm

    I totally agree with Cassandra. I can’t write unless I’m excited about an idea, and I get excited now and then, but if I don’t sit down and write, right then, in that moment, the fire goes out and I’m bogged down (excuse the mixed metaphor please). I know this is a bad thing. A matter of discipline. I’m working on it.

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    April 4, 2014 at 10:11pm

    Ginny
    Re excitement / motivation to write. See my response to Cassandra.
    ~ Jonathan

  • Susan says:
    April 5, 2014 at 12:08am

    Thank you Roger.

    The last one is tough pain.
    It’s hard because one may be tired of putting the family’s business off and off waiting for his/her writing income. It only re-enforces what people suspect, that writers are lazy excuse makers.

  • April 5, 2014 at 5:15am

    Oddly enough, none of these things are problems for me. I don’t have a job to distract me from writing or friends who ever want to talk or hang out with so I have all the time to write that I want. Aside from booksignings and vendor events, during which I often day dream through snd get ideas for current and new books, there isn’t much to get in my way.

    My biggest problem that keeps me from writing is not writer’s block but writer’s cramp due to too many ideas. I easily write for 6-8 hours straight and often do because I don’t like stopping until ideas stop free flowing or until I physically can’t write anymore.

    I am one of the few authors I know who still write using notebooks and pencils rather than the computer because I can write or much longer than I can type. Since I am limited to a couple of hours at a time for typing I use this slowdown time to perform my first edits to my work before printing it out to look over and edit once more before my editor sees it.

    After seeing everyone else’s comments I realised that while my books aren’t selling very well online, selling over 500 physical copies through booksignings and vendor events isn’t really that bad for being an author for a little over two years. And like most author’s, there was a time when I definitely doubted my book’s quality. When my first book passed beta reader and it’s original publisher’s quality test I believed people would like it but then the negative feedback began quickly coming. First I heard back from my old elementary school librarian who said a couple kids read it and told her it was good but they didn’t feel it was worth continuing after a few stories. They felt there was no plot to it. Then she read it and said it was good but boring which confused me because I didn’t think those two words belonged together. Later my aunt said it was confusing and she didn’t like it.

    Since I was unsure of the books quality I offered it for free in hopes to get someone who was willing to review it. I did find someone who told me witches were her favorite subject so when she came back to me with a review saying that she didn’t like my book because she thought the main character seemed like a brat which she would have learned otherwise had she continued on to the next story, and parts of my book seemed to unrealistic, I actually began feeling guilty whenever I made a sale of this book. When my second book was released, those who had loved my first book told me this one was even better.

    Then, because my books can be read out of order, people who only read the second book came back to me for book one after having read and loved it and I began believing I could better hook people if they read book two first. I began focusing on getting people who were on the fence about which book to get to buy this one. Then just months ago a mom e-mailed me saying her son loved my book and he is a reluctant reader. When she told me which book he had I was surprised to learn that it was book one. Since then I have had several kids with book one return to me for the second and a few kids have even used my book for book reports so it has become clear that over all my books are a hit with kids and people who love to read about animals and magic.

    During many of the negative times my writing did slow some but it never stopped. After my librarians review I actually wrote a bit more and for a while all I could write were action scenes many of which actually turned out really well. I learned that if I choose a part of one of my books to write based on my mood I get some of my best writing.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 6, 2014 at 9:12pm

      Jennifer
      It can take a living age for one’s work to find its audience. One by one it sounds like they are appearing.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 6, 2014 at 2:20am

    Perfect timing! I published my first novel a couple of months ago and I’m currently trying to start my second. Although people have told me they liked the characters and they’re waiting for the next book, I’m having trouble getting started on the actual story. I’ve written a couple of paragraphs and seem to get engrossed (distracted) by the continuous learning about marketing. I’m trying to be active on Goodreads and other sites. I feel all of these things are just helping me procrastinate. However, they’re also things I should be doing.

    I’ve researched and wrote the outline/synopsis. I’m a single parent to a 7-year-old and I work full-time. There are days when I’m tired after work, homework, etc. My mind is not on writing.

    I managed to get the research and synopsis completed by doing it after her bedtime, by getting up early, or during lunch at my day job. I had planned to work on it today, but I read this post and HAD to click on many of the interesting links Jonathon provided. :-)

    I need to make a schedule and limit my time doing other things so that I have more time to get the words down. That’s the bottom line. Seeing this post made me realize that I was making excuses. Even writing for a half hour is better than nothing. I don’t need a chunk of 2 or 3 hours. I didn’t with the first book. I took what I could get.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 6, 2014 at 9:03pm

      Danielle
      A schedule will benefit an artist or writer just as much as anyone else.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 6, 2014 at 4:17pm

    Great post, Roger, particularly point 2. Writer’s block rarely, if ever, really happens. If we treat writing as a job then writer’s block is nothing more than those mornings everyone gets out of bed and thinks ‘I really can’t be bothered flipping burgers/teaching physics to fifteen year olds/doing seventy laps of Monza, today.’ All jobs have bad days. Most people don’t have the luxury of moping around waiting for enthusiasm to come back.
    Get in front of that computer, or that blank page and just write! It might be mechanical; what you produce might be total rubbish; it might all get binned, but the only way around that ‘block’ is to admit it doesn’t really exist.
    And as for ‘success’, we should all be very careful what we wish for… Most of us would seriously miss the relative anonymity of the mid-list, working author if we suddenly went stratospheric!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 6, 2014 at 9:02pm

      Alan
      “Get in front of that computer, or that blank page and just write! It might be mechanical; what you produce might be total rubbish; it might all get binned, but the only way around that ‘block’ is to admit it doesn’t really exist.”
      Agree, but there remains a syndrome that inhibits many writers and that’s the fear of being judged. This is what I generally refer to as writer’s block for want of a better name. See my earlier blog post: http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 6, 2014 at 5:59pm

    Thanks for exploding the myth of ‘Writers Block’ (aka Lazy Writer)……so very, very true!

    How strange that when I write, it feels right and the more it feels right, the more I want to write……….and I still get Lazy……..

  • DelSheree says:
    April 6, 2014 at 9:01pm

    Marketing kills my writing, at least it feels like that recently. The pressure to make sure a new release does well destroys the 75/25 writing to marketing adage. It’s hard to focus on writing when I feel like I have to live up to my publisher’s expectations for my book.

  • April 7, 2014 at 1:43am

    Dear Jonathan and Roger,
    to speak the truth I am indeed sometimes lazy, but I had overcome that part of my character because I just don’t like it in any area of my life. I started writing since I was 14, back then my admirer number 1 was my mother and she is still up to this day. I am grateful with God for that, because she inspired me to carry on. She used to write beautiful poems, but that part of her life went down eventually because she let someone kill that dream. So I decided that I do not want that in my life. So I kept writing until this day. And I discovered something, that rather than selling a lot of books, I’d rather my books be remembered and cherished, because of what it meant to the readers. Besides is a wonderful therapeutical tool. ;) Alex

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 7, 2014 at 9:37am

      Alex
      Love this: “… I’d rather my books be remembered and cherished, because of what it meant to the readers.” The paradox is that’s also what will sell your books.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 7, 2014 at 12:14pm

    I write poetry for thirty years and was inspired to write fiction. When my first book was written the contract for it was one that was quite deceiving.
    The thought of my first published book work was something that made me think
    it was all done. The truth is it is something that is just the start of a long line of work that I failed at because of other issues in my life. It is just the beginning of still time job with few paydays.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 8, 2014 at 3:03am

      Darwin
      Yes, it’s a long haul. But hang in there, because this is a career path not a get rich quick scheme.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 7, 2014 at 7:44pm

    “What is your definition of “success”? Mine is selling a few books now and again and once in a while getting a letter from a reader who liked my book.”

    This comment by Roger has given me such hope. My book sales are slow and I am a first-time published author. Today I met a lady in the supermarket whom I scarcely know but she was so enthusiastic about ‘Beneath African Skies’ that it made me blush! This happens from time to time and I get the odd email – it makes me believe that it is indeed a good book. Thank you, Roger!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 8, 2014 at 2:59am

      Gillie
      That feedback always feels heaven sent.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 8, 2014 at 8:33am

    Thanks Roger for such a hopeful post – and Jonathan for all your comments and hosting the site. I agree that there’s no such thing as “writer’s block” – it’s bizarre, but one never speaks of “artist’s block” yet it can happen too (I know, because aside from writing, I also paint). The two events (because that’s what they are, a pause in the creative process) manifest themselves somewhat in the same way. One morning, you just don’t feel like picking up those brushes and you’re happy actually to leave that damn canvas blank.

    I’m not sure it’s related to laziness. There’s some of that too, after all, creation is very tiring. But the way I see it (using my experience as a painter), it’s more like a moment of respite, something that makes you say “hey, let’s stop climbing the hill, I’m out of breath, let me rest”. Then you catch your breath again and you’re off. How you catch your breath is a very personal thing, it might mean going to the kitchen and fixing yourself a cup of hot chocolate or go for a stroll in the woods or visit a museum or…whatever works for you!

    As to your last point, Roger, I love it. Yes, connecting with readers is the real beauty, the real reason one writes!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 9, 2014 at 11:44am

      Claude
      You and me both. I paint reasonably well, but not quite up to Matisse. But I’ve never had ‘artist’s block’! The main reason writers get ‘blocked’ is usually fear of being judged. See how to successfully escape this here : ‘On writing And The Fear Of Being Judged’
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 9, 2014 at 4:02pm

    Currently, I think my biggest hurdle is health. I suffer from a couple of chronic conditions, the current worst being Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or something that causes similar symptoms). There is very little help for it, if any at all (a lot of doctors don’t believe it’s a real condition), and every day is a struggle. I’m often bone and brain tired. I also work a 40-hour week, so by the end of the day and by Saturday I’m practically brain dead. Sunday is my only slightly better day, so right now I’m working on getting something done then, but it’s still a challenge (I have a backlog of things I need and want to do, and with Sunday as my only day, time is at a premium). I need to work on my novel, but right now I have been getting by with blog posts and short stories, and I have been taking notes for the novel as energy allows. Until I can get the energy issue improved, I’m not sure what else I can do. I might have to suffice with a sentence-a-day approach. Start small, work up to as much as I can handle.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 10, 2014 at 12:25am

      Charlotte
      So sorry to hear of your health issues. One thing I do know is that if you can get down a few words here and there to create an imaginary world, they will increasingly begin to capture your imagination. And an imagination in flight can overcome physical frailties for just a little longer. You also have purpose to help sustain you; you are a writer. Please do keep me posted re your progress.
      ~ Jonathan

      • April 10, 2014 at 12:55pm

        Hi Jonathan,

        Will do, and thank you for your kind words. My purpose is the only reason I haven’t given up entirely. My novel notes right now are the ones filling my imagination. Even though I know most of that information will not end up in the novel proper, it still serves to keep me engaged, and gives me a larger pool of information to draw from. I think you’re right–I’ll just have to take it a word at a time.

        Charlotte

  • April 13, 2014 at 5:59pm

    All of these are so true. I also struggle with procrastination and getting sidetracked on the net. lol.

  • Lily-Eva says:
    April 13, 2014 at 7:17pm

    I loved this post. It helped remind me to keep writing and never let the distractions in life deter me. I also suffer from chronic pain after a brain hemorrhage in November of 2011. The writing helps with my focus. I still tend to get a little overwhelmed sometimes, and will go off on a tangent when I see a distraction that interests me. Working on the ‘attention span’ issue, :) Lucky for me, a small distraction led me here and for that I’m grateful. Signed up and will be following the site and on Twitter.

    I’m not looking for a NYT best-seller, just a few published e-books that some fans can enjoy.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 14, 2014 at 12:25am

      Lily
      We all have that ‘attention span’ issue. I suspect it’s closely related to procrastination which, while famous for being the thief of time, sure gives you a breathing space :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 13, 2014 at 7:38pm

    Like the majority of writers out there, I’ve been through all of these. I’ve been through days that rained gold and days that soured milk. Any writer’s block I ever had was just the moment that I’d either made a wrong turn in the manuscript and didn’t want to rip the chap/s apart to fix it or that my characters had forgotten who they were, or rather I’d forgotten who they were. You’re right about the bestseller. It may not ever come, but if we can touch a few readers that’s the gold we should seek.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 14, 2014 at 12:33am

      Traci
      The ‘gold’ you refer to also brings a significant life advantage: (Most don’t fully realize how sustaining this is.) IDENTITY. You are a writer. It’s vocational. Think about it…. not many have such a tall mast to which they can nail their colors.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 14, 2014 at 7:11pm

    When life gets in the way, I use it to my advantage. I have teen boys, so I never get writer’s block;-) Thanks for the great post!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 14, 2014 at 9:50pm

      Jennifer, that appears to translate as your boys never leave you any time for writing, so writer’s block never occurs!
      ~ Jonathan
      P.S. I do get it; There’s never a dull moment, and so much happening, that (i) you’re never short of material and (ii) you’re far too busy to ever suffer a writer’s block moment.

  • April 30, 2014 at 8:09pm

    Sharing.
    I had always kept it a secret about my writing and only in 2010 started to share, now I write every day, even if something silly, like an observation of a fantastic conversation , me or my friends being silly. These moments are precious and I find myself moulding those moments and experiencing into my work to share. I am over the moon when someone takes time to read my book and delighted that for that time, I am responsible for entertaining them . It is wonderful and when they share what made them laugh, cry and ask for book 2. I have achieved something magical and its not a task I had to do at work, it was for me. It may be small to the world, but very very big to me. I can smile. Can you feel that?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 1, 2014 at 4:44am

      Mandy
      Exactly the right motivation for writing – to be read rather than ‘sell books’.
      Will there be a sequel to ‘Black Crow’?
      Jonathan

  • May 28, 2014 at 3:13pm

    I really enjoyed reading this, Roger! You had some great solutions. I know writers are always claiming writer’s block. I try to tell them to take a chunk of the material that they’ve already written, maybe 10-20 pages and read it aloud. Write a sentence right after they’ve finished reading and hopefully they’ll get right back in the flow.