Friday, May 17, 2013

Tips for Breaking Through Writer’s Block by Jennifer Beckstrand

Jennifer Beckstrand
We probably all face it at one time or another along our writing journey. That horrible feeling that comes when we’re sitting in front of the computer screen and we have ... nothing. What do you do to get the creative juices flowing again? Today on Seriously Write, author Jennifer Beckstrand shares six tips that have helped her break through writer’s block. Enjoy! ~ Dawn

Tips for Breaking Through Writer’s Block

Have you ever sat down to write and found you couldn’t come up with a single creative thought? Have you ever reread your newly-written chapter and said, “Wow, this is horrible?” When this happens to me, I fall to my knees, lift my hands to the sky, and yell, “I should have been a brain surgeon!”

When I started writing professionally, I realized something I hadn’t expected to learn: Writing is hard work. Holding a finished book in my hand is super fun. The actual writing part, where I sit in a lonely room with a Jane Austen doll as my only company, can be exhausting.

New York Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson says, “Ignore this thing they call writer’s block. Doctors don’t get doctor’s block, your mechanic doesn’t get mechanic’s block. If you want to write great stories, learn to write when you don’t feel like it. You have to write it poorly before you can write it well. So just be willing to write bad stories in order to learn to become better.”

The bottom line: Writing is hard work, but anyone, anyone, willing to do the work can succeed.

So, when writer’s block (which technically doesn’t exist) gets you down, here are a few helpful hints that have helped me get back in my chair. (My knees get tired kneeling on the floor for long periods of time.)

Even if all you manage to write is junk, write the junk. At least you’ll be working on your keyboarding skills. Just getting words down helps unstick the block, and you might even find that some of your ramblings turn out pretty good.

Know your characters. When I get stuck, it is often because I don’t know how my characters would act, or I have forced them to react in ways not consistent with who they are. Don’t squeeze your heroine into a box if she won’t fit.

Don’t write boring scenes. If you are bored with a scene you are writing, then think of your poor readers and have pity. Find another way to advance your plot. Never, ever put your readers to sleep.

Don’t force your plot into a direction it doesn’t want to go. If you find yourself contriving plot points to make your story work, writer’s block is a signal that you are about to make a huge mistake. Listen to that voice that’s holding you back and change directions.

Put in the time. Sit in the chair. Start typing. Don’t get up to check if you turned off the iron. Don’t look to see if anyone has posted another cute kitty picture on Facebook. Don’t call your mom and ask her for that recipe you’ve been meaning to try. And don’t call your dentist and beg him to schedule you for a root canal.

Don’t forget to pray. Heavenly Father loves you. He wants you to succeed. Ask for His help. It may not come in the form of 10,000 words a day or an idea for the greatest novel ever written, but help will come. You might be blessed with an extra 30 minutes to write or a really nice fan letter to keep you going. Help will come. You can count on it.

But keep writing while you count.

Miriam's Quilt
Miriam's Quilt

Miriam Bontrager has loved Ephraim Neuenschwander for as long as she can remember. As young teenagers they make a secret pact to wed when they come of age. But when Miriam’s headstrong brother is arrested and her sister is discovered with child, Ephraim decides that Miriam, with her disgraced family ties, is not worthy of him. Heartbroken and shattered, Miriam vows to never again trust her affection to anyone. But will she surrender her heart when a man of simple faith and gentle ways shows her how to love again?

Of course Seth Lambright thinks Miriam Bontrager is pretty, but she’s also too stuck-up to pay him any notice. That is, until she comes to his stable after Ephraim’s devastating rejection. Spending time with Seth’s horses gives Miriam comfort and helps her mend, but her presence nudges Seth dangerously close to falling in love. Unable to ignore the way she tugs at his heart, will he risk everything to show her that there is more to love than the pain of bitter memories?

I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years. 

I now write Amish romance. There are three Amish romances in the Forever After in Apple Lake Series. Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt are all available in stores and online. I recently signed with Kensington Books to write another Amish romance series: The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill. I have four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and one adorable grandson. I live in the foothills of the Wasatch Front with my husband and two sons still left at home.

To learn more, please visit

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