April 18 – 24: “How do you avoid writer’s block?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5This week we discuss what’s on every writer’s mind, at least from time-to-time: writer’s block. Join ITW Members E. M. Powell, Allison Brennan, Duffy Brown, Thomas Kirkwood, Janelle Samara, Alex Segura, Ryan Quinn, Elena Harwell, Lisa Preston, Robin Yocum, J. D. Horn, Arthur Kerns and Susan Mangiero as they answer the question: How do you avoid writer’s block?



lord of irelandE.M. Powell’s medieval thriller Fifth Knight series have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. Book #3, THE LORD OF IRELAND, is out April 2016. Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she lives in northwest England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog. As well as contributing to The Big Thrill, she blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and reviews for the Historical Novel Society.



poisonousAllison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 27 thrillers and numerous short stories. She currently writes two series, the Maxine Revere cold case mysteries and the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan romantic thrillers. Allison lives in Northern California with her husband, five kids, and assorted pets.




The Good Traitor coverRyan Quinn is the best-selling author of The Good Traitor, End of Secrets, and The Fall. A native of Alaska, Quinn was an NCAA DI Champion while on the University of Utah Ski team. He worked in book publishing for five years in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles where he writes and trains for marathons.




requiemThomas Kirkwood is an international author best known for his Cold War thrillers. His novels have been published by Macmillan, Collier Macmillan (Europe), Penguin (Donald I. Fine), Signet, Amazon, Brilliance (audio), ACX (audio) and Stjerne-Spenning (Europe). After years in the EU, he now makes his home in Salida, Colorado. His new release, THE THIRTEENTH DISCIPLE: A REQUIEM FOR AMERICA, describes how the world’s oldest democracy set itself up to become the world’s newest dictatorship.



OrchidsLisa Preston turned to writing after careers as a fire department paramedic and a city police officer. Experience in her earlier professions enhance the medical and legal passages of her fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, Orchids and Stone, was released by Thomas & Mercer in April 2016, and has been described both as a thriller and as domestic noir. Her published work includes non-fiction books and articles on animals, particularly the care and training of dogs and horses. Away from her desk, she spends hours on backcountry trails as a runner and rider, sometimes combining her two outdoor pursuits via the obscure sport of Ride and Tie.


our only hopeJanelle Samara lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and cat. When she’s not busy writing, her favorite pastimes include devouring classic books on her tablet, growing organic vegetables, and creating new recipes for her large extended family. When she needs to get out of the house, she has many interests, ranging from watching ballet to fishing with her brothers. She also loves to continue learning and frequently listens to many educational podcasts.



one_deadElena Hartwell was born in Bogota, Colombia, while her parents were in the Peace Corps. Her first word was “cuidado.” At the age of nine months, she told two men carrying a heavy table to be careful in their native tongue. She’s been telling people what to do ever since. After almost twenty years in the theater, Elena turned her playwriting skills to fiction. “One Dead, Two to Go” is her first novel.




Braking for BodiesDuffy Brown loves anything with a mystery. While others girls dreamed of dating Brad Pitt, Duffy longed to take Sherlock Holmes to the prom. She is a National Bestselling author and conjures up who-done-it stories of her very own for Berkley Prime Crime. She has two series the Consignment Shop Mysteries set in Savannah and the Cycle Path Mysteries set on Mackinac Island.




down the darkest streetAlex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. He is the author of the Miami crime novel SILENT CITY, the first in a series featuring Pete Fernandez. SILENT CITY and its sequel, DOWN THE DARKEST STREET, out this year via Polis Books. He has also written a number of comic books, including the best-selling and critically acclaimed ARCHIE MEETS KISS storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story and the upcoming ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES. He lives in New York with his wife. He is a Miami native.



A brilliant death_CoverRobin Yocum is the author of the critically acclaimed novels FAVORITE SONS and THE ESSAY. FAVORITE SONS was named the 2011 USA Book News’ Book of the Year for Mystery/Suspense. It was selected for the Choose to Read Ohio program for 2013-14 and was a featured book of the 2012 Ohioana Book Festival. Yocum is also the author of DEAD BEFORE DEADLINE . . . AND OTHER TALES FROM THE POLICE BEAT and INSURED FOR MURDER (with Catherine Candisky). He is well known for his work as a crime and investigative reporter with the Columbus Dispatch from 1980-1991. He was the recipient of more than thirty local, state, and national journalism awards in categories ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing.



Jilo-ITW-For WEBJ.D. Horn was raised in rural Tennessee, and has since carried a bit of its red clay in him while travelling the world, from Hollywood, to Paris, to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. He also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist. He and his spouse, Rich, and their pets have settled, at least temporarily, just outside Sisters, Oregon.



yemenArthur Kerns is a retired FBI supervisory special agent and past president of the Arizona chapter of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO). His award-winning short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies. He is a book reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books. Diversion Books, Inc. NY, NY published his espionage thriller, The Riviera Contract, and the sequel, The African Contract. The third in the series, The Yemen Contract, is set for release in June 2016.



Dr. Susan Mangiero is the author of Risk Management for Pensions, Endowments and Foundations and over thirty-five articles and chapters that have been published in prominent investment industry journals, magazines and books. As lead contributor to www.pensionriskmatters.com and www.goodriskgovernancepays.com, she has penned over 1,000 economic commentaries. In 2008, Pensions & Investments recognized Pension Risk Matters as a “best blog.” A lifelong reader and lover of words, Susan won several awards for writing early on and continues to receive praise for her ability to explain complex terms in a straightforward manner. She is currently working on her first fiction book about the world of money.

  1. This is a problem most writers face at one time or another. In the past I’ve gone through the routine of turning on the computer, staring at a blank screen, and praying for inspiration. After a period of time of not being able to come up with an opening sentence, I’d check my email, the day’s news, and read what was new on writer’s websites. Rearranging pens and pencils on the desk, getting a coffee refill, checking ink levels in the printer, followed this and then I’d get up and walk away.

    A new routing developed. Before sitting down at my desk I already have in mind what I’ll write. At the gym or on my walk I picture the next scene, the character change, maybe a turning point in the story. I refer to the notes I jotted down the day before in a restaurant or at the dentist’s office.

    On those occasions when I’m still not sure how I’m going to start I begin with editing what I wrote the previous session. It gets me started on the creative process, reminds me where I am in the story, and gets the mind thinking, exploring what’s around the corner for my characters, or coming up with a turn in the plot.

  2. How do you avoid writer’s block? You don’t. You push through it. Whatever you do, don’t let it stop you in your tracks.

    My goal is always to write every day, and for the most part I succeed at that. But some days life interferes and some days I’m just not feeling it. When that happens, I don’t throw up my hands and take a day off. I scale back my expectations and tackle it from a different angle. A novel is a massive thing. It can be improved and furthered in ways other than typing words one after the other in coherent sentences.

    The most straightforward thing I can compare my approach to writing to on the tough days is running. I was an athlete in college and there were no days that it was okay to skip training just because I didn’t feel like or didn’t like the workout of the day. This habit got drilled into me. And now I still run almost every day. Even in the rain, even when I’m hung over.

    I approach writing the same way: It is unacceptable to skip a day. Because on a bad day the goal is to keep one bad day from becoming two bad days, or stretching into three or four. Does this mean I sit in a chair and neglect the rest of my life until I’ve written X number of words. No. And I don’t advise setting goals like that. I think of the obstacle as a thing that can be chipped away at, not removed in one sitting. But it does mean I do at least one thing that moves the book forward in a meaningful way. Maybe that’s writing one page. Or just a paragraph. Or maybe it’s taking a research day and brushing up on details so that I’m ready to flow again on a better writing day. Or maybe it’s just reviewing my outline and trying to flesh out a few extra thoughts here and there. When I do things like this on a bad day, nine times out of ten I hit the chair typing the next day.

  3. Writer’s Block may be a warning that there is a problem either in the story or the writer. If the problem is in the story, it often works to let the lost section marinate. Let yourself be okay with crafting out of order. Maybe you’re stuck because you don’t know what motivated a character to ask a particular question or how the bad guy got the body moved, but you do know that next week in the story’s time, three chapters on, there’s the confrontation scene or a conversation that reveals crucial details. Write that scene while the earlier “stuck” scene cooks. Writing out of order is very freeing.

    If the writer is blocked because of fear—this novel doesn’t sparkle/won’t get published/sucks—be okay with that thought for now and write on because you need those pages down in order to edit them, make them sparkle so that they get published. You can’t edit a blank page.

    Finally, under the heading of a problem with the writer, we sometimes think we’re blocked when we just plain aren’t working hard enough. Writers who are more successful than me work harder.

    Perseverance is a choice. If you need to build your strength at seeing things through, notice another area in your life where you can invest more effort and drill down on persevering. Maybe run, then run more. If a marathon doesn’t teach you all you need to know about digging deep, run an ultra.

    1. I love that the endurance running metaphors have taken root in regards to this post! That’s not an accident.

      However, ultra marathons are still nuts. 😉

  4. A former colleague of mine at the Columbus Dispatch, the late Mike Harden, did not believe in writer’s block. He was fond of asking, how would you feel if you were paying a plumber $60 an hour to fix your toilet, and he claimed he couldn’t do it because he had “plumber’s block?”

    I subscribe to that theory. The time I have available to write is too precious to sit staring at a blank sheet of paper . . . or screen.

    When the words won’t come, here are some of the methods I use to keep putting words on paper.

    The one method I find the most useful is to write out of sequence. If I’m working on chapter five of a novel and struggling, I’ll work on another part of the book. My goal is to get words – good words, mind you – on paper. As long as I’m being productive, I don’t care where in the book the words fall.

    Get away from the keyboard. Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a drive. For years I would take a digital recorder with me and capture the ideas as they came. Now, I take my cell phone and use the voice-to-text app, then email it back to myself. I find this an extremely productive way to capture ideas, particularly if I’m struggling on a passage.

    Brainstorm. Take a blank sheet of paper and create various scenarios, not matter how inane or absurd.

    When I was writing A Brilliant Death, I struggled creating an ending that I liked. It took me weeks. I took every character in the book and started creating every possible scenario. In a few scenes, the mystery woman was alive. In others, she was dead. She was living in Pittsburgh. She was dead in Pittsburgh. She was living in Argentina. She was dead in Argentina. Most of the characters took turns dying. Finally, I came up with an ending that I liked.

    Sometimes, you just have to grind it out.

  5. Reading my fellow writers’ posts – I see we have a lot in common. I guess it all comes down to, what do you need to do to push through and find the next line, the missing scene, or a character’s perfect response to an event?

    So many things can help. Exercise. Time away from the computer. Write out of sequence. All of these are great suggestions — here’s how I approach it.

    I think one of the most important things a writer can do, is stay with their story or characters throughout the day. Our work doesn’t exist in a vacuum or only when we sit down at the computer. Years ago a friend of mine and I came up with the expression “honor the mull” by which we meant, spend time just sitting with your thoughts. Appreciate the process of mulling over events or characters in your story, working out plot points and developing conflict. Because I spend time with my characters away from the computer, when I sit down to write, (knock on wood!) I am never “blocked.”

    I think it’s also useful to remember that rewriting sections, polishing existing chapters, and doing research are all important aspects of writing. Sometimes doing those things can help get a manuscript back on track because they will inspire new ideas for what happens next.

  6. The first time I heard the expression, “I can fix a written page, I can’t fix a blank one” it came from Nora Roberts. I believe it. Writers block may be real, but it’s something that must be conquered.

    Often, aspiring writers face writers block either because of craft issues (they don’t know how to tell the story they want to tell) or because of fear issues (fear of success, fear of failure, fear they don’t know what they’re doing.) Just recognize that all authors deal with this at different points in their career, and sometimes with every book. No book is “easy” to write — some books are “easier” than others.

    But giving up means your not really a writer. Finding excuses means you don’t want to be a writer. You need to deal with the problems head on, which takes self-exploration and critical evaluation.

    For me, most of the times I get “stuck” in a book it’s because I’m trying to direct my characters into what I think they should be doing. (This is one reason I don’t plot.) I’m stuck because I’m forcing the story rather than letting it develop and flow organically from the characters and world I’ve created. When this happens, I re-read everything I’ve written before looking for the point where it feels wrong. 9 times out of 10 this solves my problem. When it doesn’t, I’ll “skip” to the next scene I can picture. Often, this means that the scene I’m stuck on is unnecessary, or I need to tell it from a different point of view.

    Only two times out of nearly 30 books have I had true writer’s block. The first was writing book #9 … I was in the middle of buying a new house in the middle of the market collapse in California and a lot of money already down on property; my loan fell through and the new broker was demanding far more documentation that was really necessary; one of my children was having a very difficult time at school with “mean girls”; I had a major move ahead of me; and in the middle of this our dog of 15 years had to be put to sleep. I sat down every day for six hours and had no idea what I was doing. When I re-read what I was writing, it was total crap and I didn’t know how to fix it. I finally called my editor and said I needed an extension. We had enough time, so I got 30 days. I took two weeks completely off of writing and handled everything I needed to handle. I needed the breather because I didn’t realize all the stress was shutting down my muse. Once I got back to the book, I pretty much completely rewrote the crap I had, but the story flowed after that.

    The other time was with book #18. It was the first book with a new publisher and I convinced myself that it had to be “perfect.” Whenever you tell yourself that what you write needs to be “perfect” it’s begging for writers block. NOTHING is perfect. I wrote and re-wrote and paralyzed myself because I wanted to so impress my new editor. (Not realizing, of course, that she bought me because I had 17 books under my belt and knew what I was doing.) How did I fix it? Well … I don’t really know. I missed my deadline, I was panicking, but the publication was looming and I get paid when I turn in the book. I just battled those doubt demons and knew that if the book sucked, my editor would give me the chance to fix it.

    My point is, writing is not easy. It may be the best job in the world (I certainly think so) but it’s not easy. The most important thing is to figure out WHY you’re having the problem and fix THAT, then the story will flow.

  7. Writer’s block can be a problem, but every problem has a solution. Of course, what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. Which is why I just love the variety of ways others get through it. Researching, outlining, exercising, or simply skipping a few chapters (for now) are all wonderful ways to get past (or around) writer’s block.

    Personally, I have a whole bag of tricks to avoid staring at a blank screen while the pulsating cursor mocks my inability to create coherent sentences.

    I’m a bit scatter-brained at times. This tends to lead me down the path of having multiple works in progress that usually jump genres. Some are varieties of paranormal or supernatural, some are realistic but dystopian, and I’m even working on a sci-fi novel set 1700 years in the future. Having numerous manuscripts to work on sounds like lunacy to many, I’m sure, but it’s how I keep writing every day. Maybe today I don’t feel like writing about vampires and angels, so I’ll write about a woman with multiple personalities who needs to avenge her murdered family. Or perhaps I’ll write about a village of people who can actually communicate with and control flora and fauna. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to write about a 4000-story tower where the residents only go outside once a decade and I’d rather compose tales of a man who inadvertently and unpredictably jumps back and forth between two different dimensions of reality. Even if I look at one or several of these and I’m not feeling anything new for them, I can always touch up what’s already there. Maybe the room needs to be described better. Perhaps a fight scene can be punched-up with some more descriptive language. What if I added a touch of foreshadowing here to tease the next book…

    As a newly published author, I also have the distinction of needing to set up all of my social networking sites, my own website, and trying to learn how to get my name out there. So, even on days that I can’t work on a manuscript, I’m writing blogs, interviews, book reviews, and forum posts.

    I also frequently get ideas while I’m away from the computer that I’ll type out on my phone. I spend much of my time on auto-pilot while I mull over the multitude of worlds and characters I’ve created in my mind. I have at least a dozen notes that are snippets of conversations between two main characters or a scene that I couldn’t stop thinking about while I was at a picnic or work. Those are some of the most fun chapters for me to write–to figure out exactly how they got to the point where Jordan has to explain that baby oil isn’t actually made from babies. “So…they’re not like olives?”

    If all else fails and I simply cannot focus on writing or editing fiction, I’ll just journal. Even writing about my day or week helps get the creative juices flowing. I might come up with a funny line that I can use in a novel. Or maybe journaling simply helps me get past what’s clogging up my brain so that I can focus on and/or get lost in my works of fiction.

    Any day that I don’t get to write is a day that I’ll never get back. Even after a full, exhausting day, I need to be able to write something…anything…to feel like I’ve made the most out of my time. That doesn’t mean it always happens every single day, but it gives me motivation to try.

  8. For me, it’s all about the outline. I wrote my first (terrible) contemporary suspense using no outline and didn’t even pause for breath while those first 150,00 words poured out. I was convinced I was a die-hard pantser. The rejections didn’t put me off and the next 40,000 historical suspense poured out, too.

    Then nothing. The whole thing ground to a halt and I could not figure out what words could come next in this very vaguely-formed story. So I tried a very, very rough plan of what might happen next. It worked, worked enough to at least get some agent interest.

    But that was me sold on an outline. Even better, the next book sold. Now, I’m an outline junkie. I do a scene by scene outline which is a lot of work. But it stops me getting lost, and crucial when writing a historical thriller, it keeps me on the correct historical timeline.

    And best of all, it cuts down on getting blocked. Even if the scene or the chapter I’m in is the cloying, sticky mud that is a word by word hell, I can see what’s coming next and that is a great motivator. It helps me to climb out of that bog. And keep going.

    1. Interesting. I’ve another writer friend who’s as outline-faithful as you. From the beginning, what percent of your time is spent on creating a scene-by-scene outline for the entire novel v. the post-outline writing? How does the overall time compare to your pantser days?

      1. I wish I had a definitive answer, Lisa! The reason is that with historicals, the scene by scene is bound up in/with the historical research. Put crudely, what you discover/establish forms a major part of your novel. Research on a historical can take 3 -6 months and then there’s the during and post research too. Some people spend even longer. A lot longer. Actual writing is the (probably) a little bit faster, at about four months to first draft. It’s just part and parcel of the genre. Totally worth it, despite the 1* reviews that then roll in, trumpeting ‘This author hasn’t done their research!!’ Sigh.

  9. My trick to avoiding writer’s block is to work on more than one project at a time. My experience with writer’s block is that it rarely stems from a lack of ideas, but more often from an overabundance of ideas and an uncertainty about which path to take, or fear of how the finished work will be received by the reading public, or, as is with the case with my next release, Jilo, a combination of both. Writing Jilo was a struggle, and as I felt myself shutting down in the process, I turned to another project just to keep the juices flowing and to keep myself from freezing up completely. I ended up producing another novel, Shivaree, while I worked through the issues I was having around writing Jilo. I now try to keep a backup project going as I’ve come to realize shifting my focus is much more beneficial than either total avoidance or staring at a blank screen. Seeing at least one of the projects on which I’m working grow and take shape helps me have the confidence to go back and tackle the other.

    1. I agree. Having multiple projects on the go helps me, too. Putting things aside for a while doesn’t mean you’re not still thinking/working on it, but the pressure is off. Trying too hard can bring on a block.

  10. Sorry to enter the discussion so late this week, but you will have guessed the reason: writer’s block! (Not really, thank God.)

    I suspected after reading the first two posts (Arthur’s and Ryan’s) that we would all have strategies for “slaying the demon” that used similar weapons. The remaining posts bore this out.

    Perhaps the most consistent theme is the one that seems counterintuitive to those who don’t write for a living: a vacation from the typewriter is a bad idea. The reason, I believe, can be found in the uniqueness of what we do. Unlike most jobs that demand your presence in the real world, writing demands the creation of a world that feels real but isn’t. If you step out of your plot, in other words, you don’t come back to it refreshed and ready to go another round. Quite the contrary. You still have to climb the nearly insurmountable wall separating life out there from life inside your story. The climb is tough enough each day, but ropes over the wall that were left from your exit the day before still hang down to help you. If you’re not present the next day, some sort of nasty force begins to pull these ropes up. If you’re not present for a week, you can’t reach them at all. Your re-entry into the illusory world of your story is that much harder, and when you finally manage to get back to the point at which you fled, you must still confront the problem that drove you away. Bottom line: the problem, we all agree, must be faced and dispatched before we leave the “field of battle.”

    How we deal with writer’s block, given our knowledge that we MUST deal with it or it will linger forever, is different in specifics by not in fundamentals. (I don’t count as writer’s block what Allison experienced when she had a myriad of real problems unrelated to writing that stole her ability to live in the imaginary world of her creation.) We’re almost unanimous in believing we must do something, anything, that runs parallel to the scene we hope create but can’t. This something can include a run, trip to the gym or (in my case) an evening alone with a bottle of good wine enjoyed against a backdrop of classical music. These activities themselves aren’t a solution. Rather, they provide an ambience that allows your mind to drift back into your story and, with luck, see the part that’s plaguing you from a slightly different perspective. These are ways (there are others) to finally spot the problem that has blocked your way forward.

    And this leads into another aspect of writer’s block we all seem to recognize: it is more often than not a warning sign that something is wrong with your plot. (Apparently, those who outline a novel in advance have already dealt with such obstacles.) For most of us who don’t outline, the problem can be that we’re trying to force our characters to go in a direction they find objectionable or contrary to their nature. Yes, characters do take on a life of their own, and they don’t like you, the author, trying to foist on them something they wouldn’t do if left to their own devices. As a side note, this is why I don’t outline and don’t have the luxury of an outline’s help in dealing with the demon. I like to create characters early on who assume their own lives, watch what they do and record. (This, of course, is an exaggeration. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” or rather mine, lurks in the shadows, an unobtrusive director.)

    My own method of limiting the times writer’s block “blocks” me is to write a page each day that advances the plot but can be horrible, unreadable or just mediocre. The next day, I spend half of my time on that page, reworking it until I and my characters find it acceptable. The other half of the day, I spend writing another garbage page for the next morning. Using this method, I never have to begin with a blank page, or with concern about the quality of what I’m looking at (I already know it’s bad). Many of you, when dealing with writer’s block, go back and edit what you’ve already written or find some other part of your story to work on. The only difference is that you don’t know in advance whether you’ll have to do this. I always know I’ll begin the day with a page that even a “blocked” author can improve.

    Back to the topic of vacations. While I don’t use them as an antidote to writer’s block, I do take them between books . . . preferably doing something that requires me to speak a language other than English or to teach something that requires a ton of preparation. When I’m between books, in other words, I try not to think about writing.

  11. Like someone said above, Writer’s Block is probably a sign that something else is bothering you. For me, injecting too much ceremony into the process of writing opens up the doors to “blocking.” Meaning, if things have to be JUST RIGHT for me to sit down and put words down, then that increases the chances of the stars not aligning, and not being able to write.

    A few tips that I find useful:

    Avoid distractions. Write in a quiet place, shut off the Internet/Wi-Fi and don’t answer the phone. Make yourself focus on the work. You can do your research or confer with editor/agent/beta reader later. Now is time for writing.

    Give yourself a break. If the words aren’t flowing, don’t force it. Give yourself the day off with the intention of coming back the next day to dive back in. Take a walk. Go to a coffeeshop or bookstore. Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.

    Get inspired. Remember that book that made you want to be a writer? Crack it open and read a few pages. Don’t get immersed in it to the point where you’re too caught up to come back to your desk, but give yourself a taste for the kind of writing that made you want to be a writer. It’ll motivate you to push aside the cobwebs and get writing.

    Write anywhere. Don’t limit yourself to days or times or certain seasons for writing. Be flexible. Keep a pad near you at all times. Write ideas down as they come to you. Be open to ideas and they will come.

    Don’t wait. Don’t wait until the inspiration comes to you. writing is work, and the work comes from churning through the bad stuff until you get to the good. You will never do that if you only wait for inspiration and if you only want to put perfect sentences down on paper. Go in with no expectations and without judging yourself too harshly. Just get words on paper. There will be PLENTY of time to come back and edit/revise. The first draft is about creation. So, hop to it!

    Hope this helps.

    Alex Segura

    1. I totally agree that you can’t wait until the inspiration comes. Professional writers don’t have that luxury — except the few who can write one book every 5 years, maybe. Treat writing as a job as well as vocation. We make our own inspiration.

      1. Exactly! I don’t think we have the ability to just sit back and wait for lightning to strike. Writing is a job that requires constant effort. It’d be like not going into the office because you’re not in the mood to sit at your desk and check email/fill out paperwork. You’d get fired!

        1. I agree. I think sometimes from the outside writing looks like an “art” when those of us on the inside know it’s part art, part craft, and that the craft part is where we often work the hardest. Writing when we don’t feel inspired, writing when we’d rather go outside and play with the dog, writing when we’d rather read someone else’s words for a while. While I don’t do anything resembling an 8-5 schedule – by the time I’ve done my writing, worked on social media, worked on pr and setting up events, and all the other things that go along with a writer’s life, I think I put in way more than 40 hours a week. And I’m only feeling like lightning has struck for part of that time!

  12. I write often for two reasons. First, I have three blogs to feed (Good Risk Governance Pays, I Paint With Words and Pension Risk Matters). I try to post to each blog at least once every ten days. Second, I want to sell my work and I know I can’t do that unless I have something to send to my literary agent. Before I start writing, I create a “to do” list of what I think has to be done. Then I create a schedule that includes an estimated time to completion for each step. If a task is taking more time than originally anticipated, I revise the schedule. This focus on hour-blocking works for me although I am constantly reminded how time goes by too quickly. Unfortunately, we can never snatch back the moments or make them longer. The good thing is that I love writing. I am excited when I sit down at my computer to let my fingers fly.

    1. Three blogs, Susan? Wow. That’s an amazing achievement. I enjoy blogging but it doesn’t compare to the joy of writing fiction. My blog fingers never fly in the way you so aptly describe for writing a novel. Making stuff up is so much more fun, isn’t it?

      1. I’m with E.M. I’m amazed at your ability to keep up with three blogs! I like your schedule idea, though I’m not sure I’m organized enough to pull it off.

    2. Thank you for the nice words about the blogging. This is my first time posting to the ITW Roundtable so I hope I am replying in the right spot. While blogging does take up a lot of time, the gains are many. For one thing, there is the business development aspect of blogging. More than a few attorneys who engage economic experts tell me that they often scour the web to identify candidates. Second, I need to stay current with financial industry happenings so that I have timely subjects to discuss and also grow as an economist and writer. Third, I add links to my blog posts via Twitter as a way to further build a potential audience for the financial thriller I am writing. Fourth, I enjoy writing. The rationale for creating and adding to my writing blog is slightly different. Once I decided to write a thriller, it was important to me personally to document my observations about the business of writing and my creative experience. Hopefully, over time, other authors and potential readers of my fiction book(s) will visit the writing blog. Based on my extensive reading of books about the business of writing and in speaking to authors and agents, my sense is that one must start early on to develop a potential audience and be mindful of multiple ways to market. I should add that my two business blogs are automatically fed to my author’s page on Amazon each time I post to either or both blog. I have not set up this feed feature yet for the writing blog. From reading what others have posted here, it seems that many are of the view that writing (as pleasurable as it is) is a serious endeavor and deadlines are par for the course.

      1. Susan, I wish I had your organizational skills! Yes, I view writing as both a passion and a job. So the love of the art is part of my daily life, but I also have deadlines and expectations from my publisher.

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