Writer’s Block: Is It Laziness or a Critical Part of Being a Longtime Author? – Written By Kristen Lamb

Writer’s block is a very controversial subject in the publishing world. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is right. Okay, maybe not everyone. I am right…and also NUMBER ONE AT HUMBLE!

*gets cramp patting self on back*

I believe that, when it comes to discussing writer’s block, there is a real danger of oversimplifying a truly complex phenomenon. Many claim there is no such thing as writer’s block. Just sit down and write and stop making excuses for being lazy. While laziness might be an answer (as we’ll explore) this One-Size-Fits-All solution is low-hanging fruit. Sort of like going to the doctor where the standard answer for everything is to “lose weight.”

Me: I’m tired all the time.

Doctor: Lose weight.

Me: My knee really hurts. I think I might have arthritis.

Doctor: Lose weight.

Me: *blood spurting from missing arm* I uh, think I need emergency surgery.

Doctor: Nah. Lose weight.

Now, is it true that many health issues could be remedied if we weren’t carrying around extra poundage? Sure. But, the human body is vastly complex, meaning it’s wise to ditch the myopia and take into consideration other factors.

Same with writer’s block.

Writer’s Block & Laziness

writer's block, laziness, Kristen Lamb, writing tips, publishing

We’ll just deal with probably the most common explanation for writer’s block right now. Why? Because just like sometimes losing weight really IS the answer to a health issue, laziness could be at the root of our inability to put words on the page.

Why?

Because writing is hard work. Let me add a caveat, “Superlative writing is hard work.”

I know this because when I knew NOTHING about my craft, I never ran out of stuff to slap on the page. My first ‘novel’—the 187,000 word monstrosity I keep in the garage because it pees on the carpets—was a JOY to write. My book had IT ALL! There was romance, action, comedy! My novel had everything…except a plot.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Description: The Good the Bad and the Just Please STOP – Written By Kristen Lamb

Ah description. Few things can make a writer’s skin tingle like glorious prose, right? A couple posts ago, I gave y’all some editing tips. In the meantime, I also mistakenly stumbled across an audio book that should be charged with assault, ergo why we are talking about description today.

Can we be really honest about our description? Is it truly remarkable or just filling space? Are we weaving a spell that captures readers or are we boring them into a coma? Are we holding the reader’s brains, afraid if we don’t clarify everything, they might not ‘get’ what we mean?

For those who never use description or very sparse description? Don’t fret. Description (or lack thereof) is a component of an author’s voice and it goes to style.

But obviously all writers will use some kind of description. We have to in order to draw readers into the world we are creating. If we don’t give them anything to sink their teeth into, most will wander off in search of something else.

So whether you are heavy or light on the description, here are some tips on how to do it well…

Description for Dummies Readers

I will never talk badly about a book. Consider it a professional courtesy. This is why I only mention or review books I love. In my POV, writers catch enough crap without me ragging on them, too. I like to take into account that I am not a traditional reader, and I am far more picky because I’ve spent the better part of 20 years as an editor.

CONTINUE READING HERE

What’s a REAL Writer? Spotting Terminological Inexactitude Syndrome – Written By Kristen Lamb

Being a writer is the best job in the world, aside from those fortunate enough to be paid to pet kittens or sample new ice cream flavors. But is writing a REAL job? This question has set fire to the entire psychiatric community. Okay, most of them…the ones in my head *turns off fire alarms*.

Many in our modern culture don’t believe writing qualifies as a legitimate occupation. An unusual percentage of ‘average’ citizens firmly maintain that being a writer is NOT a real job. These same individuals, however, collectively spend billions of dollars and most of their free time enjoying entertainment (created by writers).

Cleaning Teeth= ‘Real’ Job

Writing= Goofing Off

Thus far, those interviewed have yet to note the irony of their assertions (or looked up definition of irony). Since being a writer is not a ‘real job,’ then this leads us to the next most reasonable conclusion. Writing, in truth, may be a mental condition. I have written about the 13 Ways Writers Are Mistaken for Serial Killers.

So there IS that…

Today is Friday, and since we all debated Sean Penn’s book in the comments section on my last post (Was he serious or poking fun at the establishment?), I figured this oldie but goodie was the perfect dash of humor to lead y’all into the weekend…

CONTINUE READING HERE

Why Editing Matters & Simple Ways to Make Your Work SHINE – Written By Kristen Lamb

Editing makes up a HUGE part of the writing process. Oh, if all we writers had to do was sit down and slap glorious words on a page. If only it were so easy. For those new to this profession, here’s a truth bomb. This job is rewarding but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Writing is tough.

Professionals only make it seem easy.

I recently turned in my ghostwriting project. My client has given me permission to share in some of the glory, so to speak. The Trap: Sex, Social Media, and Surveillance Capitalism is now LIVE. Yes, my client worked in the adult industry for twenty years. It’s a book about the pitfalls of adult entertainment (for performers as well as the audience).

Aaand the final ended up at around 91,000 words (though, believe it or not, it’s a super quick read for being such a deep book).

Sure, writing about this topic was tough. Writing with a partner, the research, making sure I held true to the client’s voice, etc. was enough to make me want to go live in a blanket fort with my old Barbies and tubs of frosting. All in all, though, the writing was easy compared to the editing.

For those who are new, who maybe don’t know this next part, feel free to skim down to the tips  .

Editing is More Than Proofreading

Many new authors enter into professional publishing believing a few myths, which I shall now debunk. First of all, there are MANY types of editing/editors and the cost will vary. When I wrote my first 187,000 word ‘novel’ I:

  • was an idiot who was too epically stupid to know I was epically stupid
  • believed editors were only there to check for grammar issues, typos, punctuation, etc.
  • thought that I didn’t need to sully my hands hunting down typos because editors would catch all my boo-boos for me

*clutches sides laughing*

CONTINUE READING HERE

The Burning Desire: The Difference Between Magnificent & Maddening – Written By Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb once more provided us with an excellent educational post about writing. Thank you so much Kristen. You know we always appreciate your posts and you sharing experience and knowledge!


The burning desire is the beating heart of all great stories. Without the burning desire, the story will fall apart faster than a reality star who’s lost her hair extensions.

We’ve discussed story structure more times than I can count on this blog, and for good reasons. When we understand the fundamental parts of story and how they work, why they work, etc. THEN when something seems ‘off’ we possess the knowledge base and vocabulary to detect WHY the story isn’t working then fix it.

The Burning Desire for the BBT

the burning desire, great fiction, storytelling, fiction, Kristen Lamb, goal conflict motivation

I know it’s been a while, so super quick review. The first crucial ingredient for any story is a core antagonist to create the main problem in need of resolution by the time we reach THE END.

Since the whole ‘antagonist’ concept tied my brain in knots for YEARS, I finally invented my own term—Big Boss Troublemaker (BBT).

Why?

Because every story must have a core antagonist or, by definition, it isn’t a story.

That said, not all antagonists are villains. Villains are only one type of antagonist. Very useful in thrillers, horror, mystery, science fiction, and the like, but not so much in general fiction or literary fiction.

To understand more what I mean about the BBT, feel free to go HERE. If we fail to understand the BBT, then frankly the burning desire is a moot point.

While all stories must have a core antagonist (BBT), that alone isn’t enough. We must also figure out what drives the BBT. What is the burning desire fueling the goal that will eventually come at odds with the protagonist and (eventually) create a hero?

If we look back at some of the most iconic books, movies and series, we will see the writers NAILED the burning desire.

***I’ve detailed this on posts about real ‘flesh and blood’ villains, but also when we have a BBT that might be more everyday or existential.

Again, in the essence of time, I recommend taking a look at the posts I’ve hyperlinked.

CONTINUE READING HERE

The Writer’s Journey: From Total Newbie to the Joy of Mastery – Written By Kristen Lamb

Mastery is peculiar in that spectators see whatever the professional does as ‘easy.’ Masters rarely seem to even break a sweat, whether they’re dancers, authors, or entrepreneurs. What they do seems so natural that it’s easy for us to be fooled into believing we could do the same right off the bat.

Sure.

I recently signed up for a watercolor workshop. Years ago, I dabbled for fun painting in acrylics, but I’ve always heard how watercolor is among the most challenging mediums. With running a business, writing, homeschooling my young son, taking care of my aging mother, etc. I needed a hobby and a time and place to simply chill.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Oh how my Type A personality loves to muck things up. It’s taking everything for me to RELAX, let go and simply give myself permission to be NEW. My teacher has painted thousands of watercolors and is arguably one of the top masters in the country. It takes all I have to not compare my rookie attempt to his version he seems to produce without even having to actually focus.

***A skill earned through many years, countless of hours of practice, and training.

Same with authors. With the pros? Their stories flow, drag readers in like an unseen riptide only to release the exhausted and elated audience at The End. 

Mastery, to the casual observer, appears seamless and effortless.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Characters: The Emotional Touchstone Readers Crave – Written By Kristen Lamb

Characters are critical for stories that resonate. Why? Because characters are the conduit that connects the reader and vests them in the story problem. They’re the emotional touchstone that allows for catharsis, because—when written well—it doesn’t matter if the character is a space alien or a federal agent, we (readers) can relate to them in some way.

We can’t empathize with technology, spaceships, magic, or nuclear submarines. Humans can’t bond emotionally to a place (without the characters as the connection).

For instance, we CARE about Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth because we care about Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf. And, because Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf care deeply for Middle Earth and the Shire…we do as well.

Story is like the wall socket that’s connected a tremendous power source. But, how useful would those wall sockets be if all the gadgets in everyday life didn’t have plugs? How useful would a bunch of dead gadgets be?

We cannot have story without characters and can’t, conversely, have characters (DIMENSIONAL characters) without story.

Readers read stories, but great stories read the readers.

***I know we’ve talked about all this before, but since I am pathologically honest, I feel the need to tell on myself. I cracked a back tooth and had major dental work last week. With all the drugs? I actually have a completely new post almost finished, but it’s been like pulling teeth…bada bump snare.

*cries*

So please forgive the refresher.

Moving on…

CONTINUE READING HERE

Change Matters: How to Write Stories that Grip Readers & Don’t Let Go – Written By Kristen Lamb

Thank you so much, Kristen Lamb, for another educational blog post on how to write stories properly and keep the reader interested. We all appreciate your hard work!


Change is one of those concepts that gets a mixed reaction. Depending on personality and/or age group, change could be welcomed…or greeted with a metaphorical shotgun at the metaphorical door. While change is necessary for all living things to grow and thrive, plants have proven far more open to this notion than people.

I’m betting it’s because plants don’t overthink everything…unless they’re orchids which are high-maintenance and die while writing bad haiku (if they had hands and pen and paper).

Existential plants have a far tougher time, unlike weeds. Weeds just roll with anything that comes their way, and that’s why we can pour concrete over them and it’s no big deal. They simply mumble to the nearby crabgrass, “Hold my beer and watch this!”

*makes crack in new driveway* I’M BAAAAAACK!

All kidding aside, many writers miss the point of a story. Stories are about change, and the more the protagonist (and, to be blunt, all members of the cast) change for good or bad, the better.

Change & Plot

I know what it’s like to have writer brain. We see the world VERY differently than ‘normal’ people. Some see a roll of old carpet at the curb? I’m counting if all family members are present. Just yesterday, I had some fun over on Facebook with this…

CONTINUE READING HERE

Sales: How Can You Sell More Books When You’re Terrified of Selling? – Written By Kristen Lamb

Sales can be one of the most terrifying words in the English language. If one happens to be a creative professional, let’s just multiply that fear level by ten…or a thousand.

In fact, many writers spent decades longing to sign with legacy publishers for the sole reason that they believed a major publisher would tend to all that vulgar sales business for them so they could simply write and create!

*clutches sides laughing*

It’s cool. I once thought the same. We’re all friends and philistines here .

The first hard truth is that, even if we are fortunate enough to score a contract with a major publisher (scant few that remain), if our book doesn’t sell, the publisher will eventually have to cut their losses (‘losses’ being code for ‘writers who fail to sell enough books’).

Second hard truth? In the modern publishing era, Big Six Publishing has been replaced with self-publishing, indie publishing and smaller, more efficient boutique publishers. Again, building a brand and book sales will largely be on the author.

Regardless of size, publishers are businesses not charities, and throwing good money after bad is better left to Hollywood. This said, the idea of having to ‘do sales’ is still enough to make many creatives break out in hives.

Which is why I am here to help.

CONTINUE READING HERE

EVIL: Our Love-Hate Relationship With Mischief, Mayhem & Destruction – Written By Kristen Lamb…

Another great post by our favorite humorous educating blogger, Kristen Lamb. Thanks so much for all you teach us, Kristen!


Evil fascinates us, and has since the dawn of human consciousness. I continually emphasize that humans are story creatures, which is good news for writers, since we’re in the story business.

Though not all stories face off evil directly, all stories must include conflict to be considered a story. Conflict isn’t, per se, evil, but great storytellers paint with words and black is only the farthest extreme. Some stories might demand a LOT of black, but others will likely run along the spectrum of “evil.”

No, the department’s budget cuts that force your MC (Main Character) to lay off twenty hardworking people she cares about isn’t, per se, evil at work, but maybe it is. For your MC? It sure feels close to it in the moment. Especially when the cowards higher up force her to wield the ax hand out the pink slips…a week before Christmas.

Continue reading HERE