How to Give Yourself Writer’s Block
I get this question a lot: “How do you get over writer’s block?”
But I decided to do the opposite and write a blog called “How do you create writer’s block?” It occurred to me to write this because I was feeling creative, about to do some work, and then managed to completely kill it.
So here are some tips on how to stifle the creative juices:
-Read reviews, of your own books perferably, particulary negative reviews, although positive cans freak you out, too. If somebody loved one of your books, it means that your next book has to be even better, because nothing’s worse than taking somebody who loves you and turning them into somebody who hates you. Oh, and confuse your books for yourself. When somebody says, “I didn’t like this book,” they really mean, “I didn’t like you, the author, and I think you, the author, are terrible and awful and this review is totally personal.”
-Read reviews of other books (or films or poems), especially your favorite books. Find a really scathing review of whatever book you consider to be the greatest book ever written, and then realize that if somebody hates the GREATEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN that much, what chance does your book every have?
-Read glowing reviews of fantastic books, and realize again, that there are truly, insanely, almost painfully brilliant books that exist in the world, and yours will never, ever, ever, EVER be anywhere close to that good, so why even bother?
-Check your sales rankings. If they’re low, obsess over why they’re low and fear what that means for future books, your career, the college fund for your children, and any other plans you’d thought of making for the future now that you’ll have to find a new job and everyone will laugh at you for being a total public failure. If you’re rankings are high, assume that it’s either a) a glitch, or b) your rankings can’t stay high forever, and soon they will plummet, and so now you begin to panic trying to come up with ways to sell books well forever, when in reality you never even really knew how you sold any in the first place.
-Think about money. How much you have, how much you don’t have, how much soliders and teachers make, how much money is wasted on crap things, how much spent on a pair of flipflops at Walgreens and then you didn’t even wear them because they were uncomfortable, and there’s people in Africa that don’t even have clean water, and millions of people die every day from starvation, and you put on 2 pounds last week, and the whole world is completely terrible and awful and you’re not doing enough to make it better.
-Check Facebook. Not for anything particular and most of the stuff you see will annoy/irritate/bore you, and you don’t even know why you’re looking or why you’re friends with a lot of these people, but you look anyway, compulsively. A few things amuse you, but most things won’t, but you. Just. Keep. Looking.
-Go on Twitter. Twitter is better. You like Twitter because it’s funnier, the links are smarter, and it’s just generally a better experience. This cheers you up after you’ve thought about how terrible your writing is, how bad your sales are/will be, how the world is ending, so it’s better than Facebook, which only depresses you. But just like Facebook, you check it compulsively and achieve nothing.
-Watch videos of Heath Ledger on YouTube. There really is no good reason to do this, but you find yourself doing it anyway, and getting sad remembering that he’s dead, and then getting sad remembering that River Phoenix is dead, and getting sad remembering that Joaquin Phoenix is getting weird, and how everything changes and time keeps on moving and people die every day and are you really accomplishing anything?
-Wonder if everything you do/think/feel/love is terrible and pointless, and even as you wonder it, you know it’s true. In the scheme of things, all your obsessions and thoughts and worries are totally pointless, and in the blink of an eye, you’ll be dead, and everyone you know will be dead, and in hundreds of years, they won’t even remember you, and nothing you do really matters because you don’t do anything that matters. You could, but you don’t. And that should be liberating, and it is – a little – but then you get depressed again.
-Compare yourself to other authors. But don’t stop there. Compare yourself to all kinds of people. Celebrities, Noble prize winners, doctors, presidents, sick kids, the poor, the rich, Kanye West, your mom, a kid you went to high school with, a cashier at the supermarket, a walrus, Juliet Capulet – it doesn’t matter who it is, as long as you are comparing yourself to somebody and coming up lacking. And if you’re doing it right, you can come up lacking against anyone. Sure, Hitler was evil and awful and slaughtered millions of innocent people, but he took over most of Europe and he was a vegetarian. You ate chicken nuggets and complained about getting up before noon today.
-For bonus points, assume that all other authors hate you, that everyone who has ever read anything you’ve written hates the words you write. In fact every one who has ever thought of you or knows of your existence thinks you’re a joke and a hack and wants you to stop writing words.
Congratulations! You’ve killed all your creativity. Or if you haven’t, you’re a better man than I am, and let’s face it, you probably are.
It’s also safe to say that since all of these things kills your creativity and also your will to live, that doing the opposite of those things will make you feel better. Don’t read reviews. Don’t worry about sales. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Turn off Facebook and Twitter and YouTube.
Better yet, don’t be a neurotic asshole like me, and write anyway, cause who really gives a crap what anyone else thinks?
The Countdown to Tidal
According to the countdown I have on my phone, it’s only 17 more days until Tidal comes out (and only 80 more days until the final book in the series Elegy is out). I plan on having lots of stuff about Tidal and the Watersong series over the next 17 days.
And I’m starting with this – the new book trailer for Tidal:
Also, check out this awesome widget. You can add it to your blog/site, and it’ll make it easier to keep you up-to-date on all everything going on with the Watersong. Plus, it looks cool.
An Addendum to Yesterday’s Post
Yesterday, I wrote this blog: My Reaction to the Gender Coverup, and in reaction to this piece by Maureen Johnson – The Gender Coverup – and also this piece by Deborah Copaken Kogan, and even this older post by Claudia Gray – “I’m not like other girls.” I absolutely stand by everything in the blog I wrote, but I want to clarify a few things.
The first thing is something that Kiersten White mentioned on Twitter. She pointed out – rightfully – that she writes books for teen girls, so her book jackets are marked for teen girls, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s as it should be. Book covers should be marketed to your audience, and hers – like mine – is predominately female, and predominately teen.
There is nothing wrong with covers like hers or mine, or pink covers, or ones with sparkles and unicorns and lollipops and puppies, if you are writing a book about those things for an audience that likes those things. And because you write for teen girls as opposed to adult males your book isn’t automatically inferior.
There are terrible books written for teen girls, but ZOMG there are terrible books written for adult males, just like there’s terrible books written on dog training and dieting and psychology and history and every thing under the sun. Some books are bad. Some books are good. The deciding factor about whether books are good or not has to do with how they’re written – not if they’re written by women or men or for women or men.
I take issue with is two things:
1. That books about serious subjects, like photographing the war, are given “girly” “chick-lit” covers and glib titles instead of serious covers and titles, the way their male counterparts would be.
2. That books with “girly” “chick-lit” covers and subject are considered less than nearly every other type of fiction on the market. Books about romance are considered less than thrillers or action-oriented novels, even though both can be equally compelling and equally trashy.
So that’s the moral of the story.
I was angry yesterday, and it makes me sad to hear how many people related to my experience in yesterday’s blog. But I do think progress is being made. Eventually, we’ll get where we need to be.
My Reaction to the Gender Coverup
I’m writing this post, and I’m angry. I usually try not to write things when I’m angry, but right now, I don’t care. I just read this blog – The Gender Coverup written by Maureen Johnson, and now I’m pissed off.
What pisses me off even further, is that I nearly used the modifier “lovely” to describe Maureen Johnson, and it’s not that she’s not lovely, but it makes me angry that my natural inclination to describe her wasn’t “friendly” or “smart” or “incomparable” or any other ten million words that don’t have female connotations to it, and I realize once again that I’m part of the problem.
I very rarely weigh in on the issue of gender bias books because I think that if I say something, people will just point that my books suck, and recognition or lack thereof has nothing to do with gender but merit, and maybe they’re right. Not that my books suck, but I do believe that while my books are enjoyable and fun, they aren’t the stuff the of literary of awards, which is perfectly fine with me.
So this isn’t about me. This isn’t about whether or not I’ll win awards, because I won’t. I was reviewed in the New York Times, and that’s already more than my fair share and more than many much more well written books by female authors can hope for. So I’m not complaining about me or for me.
But I’m sick to death of this. I am so sick of the constant, blatant sexism. And any time any one points anything out as being sexist, they’re accused of “whining” or “nagging” or “not taking a joke.”
From the Steubenville rape trial to the obituary of Yvonne Brill to the fact that more women read books than men, more women write books then men, but only a small fraction of books that win literary awards are written by women. Women are the publishing industry’s bread and butter, we are the backbone of the damn entertainment industry, but we are constantly demoted to “fluffy” to “light” to “meaningless.”
From a very young age, I knew that “girly” meant inferior, so I avoided it like a plague. I played with action figures, not Barbies. I caught snakes and toads in my yard. When I first started developed “crushes” on boys, I was enraged at myself, because “crushes” and “kisses” were girly, and therefore inferior, and I shouldn’t want that.
For years, I have probably been part of the problem. Instead of standing up for the girly things I did like – like the color pink and glitter and teen romance novels – and pointing out that’s its perfectly okay to like these things, that there’s never been anything inferior about glitter, and most people of both genders hope to fall in love – I dismissed them and surrounded myself with the “boy” interests that I do have, wearing Jurassic Park and Batman and Star Wars like armor, listening to Korn and Marilyn Manson in high school to prove that I wasn’t some girl, I was as tough and as valuable as any boy.
Most of my life, I’ve spent apologizing to the world for being a girl. A really big and important event happened in my early twenties wherein I had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide. And that was terrible and horrible, but it was after that I realized that I needed to learn to accept myself for myself. That I’d spend enough of my life hating myself for the things I couldn’t change, and at the very top of the list was the fact that I’d always hated myself for being a girl, because in my mind, it made me inherently weak and inferior. Having emotions – particularly sadness and love – are associated with the feminine, and I spent a great deal of my life trying to stifle them as a result. Every thing feminine about myself I tried to change, to “correct.”
I’m not transgendered in anyway, because when I actually allow myself to I quite like being a girl. I like shoes and dying my hair and the color pink and guys and tattoos and Batman and comic books and horror movies and romantic comedies and wearing jeans and action figures, because oh my god, I’m a whole person with whole interests, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of them.
There are of course other issues contributing to the self-loathing, and I didn’t hate myself just because I liked Jonathan Taylor Thomas or My Little Ponies. But these were symptoms of a larger problem, one that was constantly reiterated to me by every form of media. Everything female is inferior.
I don’t know how to change this, but I know this has to stop. I may be a terrible writer or an inferior human being or a horrible person, but none of that has to do with the fact that I’m a girl, and nobody should ever feel the way did. Kids today deserve better from us. They do not need these constant subtle reminders that they are inferior.
The first step is acknowledging that it exists, and that there’s a gender gap in nearly every form of industry in the country, and the second step is top stop buying into it. We all need to stop feeding it and buying into it.
Less Than a Month
It’s less than a month until Tidal comes out, so I’m basically going crazy at this point. I cannot wait for you guys to read it.
I’m doing a Watersong Book Club over at Wattpad where I’m discussing the first two books in the series, so if you want a refresher or have questions or want to check out other bonus info, stop by Wattpad. Also, the first several chapters of Wake and Lullaby are up there, along with all of the short story Forgotten Lyrics.The latest update on the bookclub is Character Inspiration – Daniel.
I just finished up edits on Elegy, the last book in the Watersong series, so it’s fun and a bit strange to be doing the book club now, and going back over the beginning of the series. All the pieces really come together in the end.