How do I fight writer’s block?

Same as any other kind of artist, writers also suffer from this condition. The causes differ and depend on each person, just like the ways to overcome it. Every person should find their own way to deal with it, so if you’re looking for a solution to this very problem… I’m sorry, but I can only speak for myself. My answer to this question may not be able to help you in particular, but I wish it did. I hope you find your way back, and please let me know if I can help in any way.

In my case, writer’s block was not a lack of inspiration. I had ideas, and sometimes I wrote them down, but I didn’t do anything else with them (for years) because of my insecurity. Still, I was struggling at the time, so it wasn’t a complete block. In a way, I’m used to dealing with anxiety and my lack of self-confidence, so I can get things done most of the time. Yes, these are problem I should deal with, but things got worse.

When my anxiety got so bad it reached the stages of burnout and depression, I stopped writing. I had to. Whenever I had to use my computer, I wanted to throw it out of the window. I had panic attacks sometimes.

So I did what I had to do and stopped writing. I changed my habits, reduced my workload and spent one year focusing on work (because I couldn’t stop working) and taking care of myself.

I took walks, played videogames, avoided my computer and didn’t write anything new. Not even on my notebooks. I even stopped reading for a while.

It was hard because I’ve spent all my life working (even school and extracurricular activities are work) and stopping to rest made me feel useless, but I persevered. And then, one day, I started feeling better. I wanted to read again, but I couldn’t trust new books yet, so I started rereading some of my favourite books. Little by little, I started to enjoy it again. And then I started therapy, and it all went even better after that.

I took some holidays and I just went to the beach and relaxed for the first time in many years. That couple of weeks helped a lot and I started writing in my notebooks again, and also transcribing my old notebooks. I even created this blog. And I started writing a fanfic because I thought it would be fun.

It’s been over a year and I’m still fighting, but I think the way to overcome writer’s block is… basically patience and perseverance. I know that isn’t very helpful, but that’s how you learn to take your time and do what you need in order to get better. The solution depends on the reason why you suffer this condition, and it may involve not writing at all. So if taking relaxing baths and walking in a forest is what helps, don’t think of it as Not Writing. Resting doesn’t have to be the opposite of work. Relaxing is hard work and, more importantly, it’s necessary if you want to keep working (and living), so I now consider it a very important part of my day. Try doing something that makes you happy (or that used to make you happy if you have depression), and remember that the mind needs time to heal.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been a while, so I wanted to post something quick while I work on a longer post for you people.

First of all, Happy New Year!!

I apologize for the lack of updates, but I’ve been very busy since November and haven’t had time to write that much. The little time I had, I spent with friends… or resting when my anxiety turned too depressive. But I’m feeling better after the holidays! The days are getting longer and I’m still going to therapy, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.

I know 2019 will be full of awesome books to read, and I hope I can write something (anything) before the year ends. So yeah, my goal this year is to finish writing something, but it’s not a resolution. Does it make sense? Actually, my New Year’s resolutions are: writing more (in general), updating regularly, and taking better care of myself. And in order to take care of myself, I can’t feel like I HAVE TO finish writing a short story. This way, I may trick myself into thinking that I have no deadlines or expectations to meet and I shouldn’t feel guilty if things go wrong. Will it start out as a pastime and become an obligation? Probably, but I’ll let you know how it goes! (Don’t mind me; I’m just judging myself for judging myself.)

You’ll be glad to know that I haven’t stopped doing my research, and I’ve spent some time during the holidays visiting places and museums that are relevant to my stories. I hope I can tell you more about them soon, but the next post is gonna be about how I started reading Romance. If you’re curious, you have Lee Welch to thank for, since she said that sounded interesting.

Image of a new dawn in the world that reads "2019 HAPPY NEW YEAR".
Shared by Dorothe on pxhere.com

About Romance

It’s about time I wrote a post about the genre I want to explore, isn’t it? You may remember that, when I talked about the books that changed my life, I mentioned that one of them made me rediscover a genre I thought was too homogeneous for me: Romance.

Twenty years ago, I was an avid reader of Science-Fiction. Ten years ago, I read nothing but Fantasy. Now I find it hard to read anything that’s not Romance. I have to confess that, before that book changed my life, I’d tried reading some books and comics with romance elements, my favourite being Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. However, after a while I started thinking that they were all similar; I didn’t feel represented by any of them (in my defense, I mostly read physical books in Spanish, and there was not an ounce of diversity to be found back then). I thought it would always be the same. Never have I been so glad to be proved wrong.

Once I stepped out of my comfort zone and started reading new books, I realized that Romance had actually become the most open and complete literary genre. There’s variety (fantasy, paranormal, historical, sci-fi, contemporary…), diversity (characters who are POC, LGBTQ+, disabled, depressed…) and hope (happy endings are the norm). Romance readers and authors have been leading a loud revolution that you may not have noticed (if you don’t know anyone who’s part of the community), but —I believe— it’s making the world a better place. Of course I’d want to do anything in my power to help! The problem is… that a little is never enough for me, so now I’ve turned to writing.

To be honest, I never thought I’d end up this way. As a person with anxiety, zero self-confidence and a different mother tongue, I know it’s gonna be hard. But hard is not impossible, so I had to try. And who knows, maybe my weaknesses can help me write something that will help people like me. Even if it’s just one person, that would make all hardships worth enduring.

 

Old book with pages bent inwards forming a heart.
Photo shared by congerdesign. Creative Commons.

 

October Update

I’ve been here for three months and in that time I’ve received many follows, likes, comments, and a lot of encouragement from all of you. Thank you so much!

In this time, I’ve transcribed some of my notebooks, updated an old fanfic, read a lot about writing, and decided to write a short story.

Of course, in these three months I’ve also created this blog and my new account on Twitter. I even got a new mobile phone with a better camera that will hopefully allow me to take better photos for this blog (you’ve seen some of the old ones, like the photo in this post). I’m now trying to find some books that will allow me to do some research before I write the short story.

For this short story, I had some ideas:

  • Summer crush that turns into love. Takes place in Northern Spain, one of them is a foreigner and there’s a dog involved.
  • Rich boy with an old building meets student that not-so-secretly wants to turn it into a museum. There might be ghosts in the building, though.
  • A young superhero from Spain has a crush on another European superhero and tries to get an Erasmus scholarship so he can meet his hero.
  • This super popular guy finds himself without home, family or friends just before the holidays, but there’s a serious guy in the office who never talks to anyone but offers his help.

So, which one do you prefer?

And since November is approaching, should I try to do something like NaNoWriMo? If it’s too stressful, I may have to pass this year.

Have you tried it before? Did it work for you?

Logo of NaNoWriMo
Logo of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

Fourth notebook

notebook004

After the last notebook of 2015, I had a bit of trouble choosing which notebook to transcribe next. I found myself with 4 notebooks I’d filled in 2016… but I didn’t know the order. I already said I’m rather chaotic, but I didn’t want to make things worse by starting with the wrong one. In the end, I realized I had two notebooks I must have used at the same time… more or less.

One was big, so I must have used it at home, and the other one was small, so I must have taken it everywhere. I probably finished the smaller one before, at least, so I decided to start with it.

You may have noticed this notebook and the previous one have the same format, but I already said they’re my favourite ones, so you should just know that I bought this one after reading “A Seditious Affair” by KJ Charles. I couldn’t not buy a notebook inspired by William Blake’s poems after reading that wonderful book.

This notebook had many snippets that never became a story and a lot of information for a fanfic I never wrote. Other than that, I continued working on rewriting my old fantasy story, now with new main characters. I also started to collect names for all the characters and places. And there’s even a story a cab driver told me, about one of his ancestors who’d been a bandit in Southern Spain.

Spoiler alert: I was surprised to find out that it was in January 2016 when I decided that two of the characters in the fantasy romance would know each other, but only one of them would remember having met before. I thought that had been much later and now I wonder where that came from. Anyway, that made a lot of sense and it became an important plot point.

Why do I write in English?

Someone recently asked me if I was going to write in English or Spanish. And the truth is… I don’t know.

Well, I know what I want, but my feelings are complicated. I want to write in English, but English is not my First Language, so I wonder if I should and if my writing would be any good.

Writing in Spanish is weird for me, though. I’ve read and studied Literature in English for decades, so Spanish sounds weird to me sometimes (Especially explicit language, which sounds too technical or too cheesy). Still, I would be able to tell if my writing is crap in Spanish, right? Maybe.

For me, the main reason to write in Spanish is that… I want to write Romance with  LGBTQ+ characters, and it’s something one can’t easily find in Spanish. I love helping and I want to help Spanish speakers find stories that will make them happy (which is why I became a translator, but that’s another story).

However, I love writing and reading in English, and if I was confident about both my English and my writing, I wouldn’t hesitate: I’d write in English first, and then see if I want to publish anything in Spanish as well.

Maybe that’s what I should do. Just follow the Fake-it-till-you-make-it philosophy. After all, there are proofreaders, editors and beta-readers out there. I wouldn’t be alone.

Spanish_Armada_fireships
Launch of English fireships against the Spanish Armada. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Masterlist for prospective writers

I love masterlists and writing reference posts, so I thought I could make a short one to go with my “Tips for prospective writers” post. These are some links I found helpful as I followed these steps, so I hope they’ll be useful for you too.

  1. Read a lot
    Sometimes it’s difficult to find what you’re looking for, and sometimes you find it and it’s too expensive. For those times, I recommend doing this:
    -Find your favourite books on Goodreads. They probably belong to a list of similar books. See what other readers have added to the list and increase your Want-to-Read bookshelf. You can also check the most popular lists (and all the rest) here, but there are too many, so proceed with caution.
    Here is another masterlist where you can find many sites where you can legally download books for free.
    -Do everything in this tumblr post: How to legally get cheap or free ebooks instead of pirating like a garbage person. If you’re an ebook-hater, some books won’t be available in this day and age, but authors and goodreads still organize giveaways for paperbacks; and bookdepository, already mentioned in that post, will always be your friend.
  2. Join the community
    You will have done it if you’ve followed the tips to legally get cheap or free books, but you can get more out of this experience if you’re a prospective writer, so:
    -Follow your favourite writers and publishers on goodreads, twitter, facebook, their blogs… Join their newsletters and read what they have to say. It’s always interesting!
  3. Don’t be shy
    Yeah, you people should be the ones telling me how to do it. I just try to reply whenever I have something to say and keep my fingers crossed, but if you’re following your favourite authors, maybe telling them why you love their books would be a good way to break the ice. You’d like that if you were in their place, right? And they’re human after all. Amazing human beings, for sure, but still human.
    -I don’t have links for this one, but please remember that being polite is always necessary when you talk to other people.
  4. Practice
    How you want to practice is very personal, so you may want to go look around the Internet and check what works for you. Here are some things that did the trick for me:
    -Lee Welch shared a post On ignoring writing advice that I found extremely useful. I have problems with anxiety and self-doubt, but now I’ve embraced the thought that my first book won’t be perfect and it doesn’t have to be. I’m also thinking about writing some short stories before I write a novel. It’s all an experiment, right? We’ll see how it goes.
    -Anyway, in order to ignore the advice, you have to read it first. And there are lots of places for that. I think I may make another masterlist about writing advice, but if you want to do some reading now, there’s a very complete list in thewritepractice.
    -You’ll also find lots of sites that will share prompts daily, like the popular Writing Prompts account on tumblr.
    -And, again, a good way to practice and receive feedback from readers is writing fan fiction. There are many places, but my favourite is Archive of Our Own.
  5. Beta-read
    There are many websites and books about finding beta-readers and learning how to beta-read. There are courses and a lot of information online, but a quick Google search gave me these ones that seem helpful enough if you’re not going to go professional:
    -“How to Beta Read” by Corrine Jackson.
    -“Five Commandments of Beta-readers” on Author Accelerator.
    -“How to Be a Good Beta Reader” on BookBaby.
    -“How Being a Beta Reader Has Made Me a Better Writer” by Jo Ullah.

That’s all for now, but please let me know if you have any favourite sites, or if you’ve written some posts yourselves on these topics. I want to read them as well!

 

avatar_writing_prompts
Writing Prompts’ Avatar

Too old or too young?

I’m always surprised to find people on the Internet who think they’re “too old” to write a novel and… they’re… 30 years old. Or younger!

It makes me wonder how literature is seen in the rest of the world. In Spain, important and famous writers are over 40 years old. The older, the better, since you have more experience and you’re supposed to write serious novels that critics will approve.

So I always thought 30 was young for a writer to start publishing. Below that? That was gifted-kid level. But maybe things have changed since then. Maybe it’s just different in Spain…

…Or so I believed until a Spanish friend mentioned she felt it was too late for her, and she’s younger than I am! So, here is what I have to say about this: no, you don’t have to accomplish everything before you’re 20, but it’s fine if you want to start before that (even though you’re not even an adult in some countries). You can also be a genius and write amazing novels before you’re 40, but life experience will always make them better with time. So go ahead and start writing as soon as you can, but don’t stop there. Keep writing and getting better at it.

As I said in this post, I’m glad I didn’t try to publish what I used to write years ago (because it was terrible). However, I’m aware that I’m taking the slowest approach and it’s not the best way to do it. That’s why I decided to create this blog and check what I’ve accomplished and what I have left to do. So far, I think it’s working: for the first time in two years, the mountain of notebooks I have to transcribe is decreasing!

I still have much to do, but at least I don’t feel too old or too young anymore. I’m just proceeding at my own pace, and trying to make it the right one for me.

 

Laura_Ingalls_Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first novel at the age of 65. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.