Monday, 17 August 2015

Melissa Maygrove’s Top 5 Tips for Writer’s Block

I'd like to welcome Melissa Maygrove to my blog today, to help me with a problem I've been having for a while now. Plus, there's a chance to win a copy of Melissa's new book Precious Atonement. I'll leave it to Melissa to explain more...


I’m grateful to Annalisa for inviting me to visit. When I asked what she wanted me to write about, she posed this question:

I'm blocked, completely. What advice would you give me? [Imagine a really panicked whine here - Annalisa]

  1. Take a break. Pressure to write can make you try too hard, which usually leads to nothing or nothing good.
  2. Read some quality fiction. Often, a good book can get the juices flowing.
  3. Read some nonfiction. It doesn’t matter what it is—a biography, the newspaper, some general research—it can be the spark that lights a fire under your muse.
  4. Watch some movies or even a silly game show. You never know where inspiration might lurk.
  5. Click through images on the web. You can do a Google search or meander through a stock image site. This is especially helpful when you need to add some description to a scene.


Bonus tip:
Do you have an idea for a plot, but keep hitting a wall?
Ask ‘What if ______?’, then mentally carry the plot idea to its natural conclusion.

Didn’t work?
Fill in a different idea and carry it through again.

Don’t be afraid to insert something that seems totally opposite of how you envisioned things would go. (e.g. What if her mother really isn’t her mother?) Sometimes entertaining a radical idea brings about a twist that transforms a good story into a great one.

Thanks for having me. I hope this helps.

Thanks Melissa, great advice. I'm going to curl up with a good book, a good film and plenty of chocolate... (because I know #6 would have been 'eat chocolate'!)




Ruined women don’t hope, killers don’t dream, and the dead don’t feel pain.
Picture
Rachel Emerson is resigned to live as a spinster. Her parents keep her shameful secret, and her only brother, Seth, vanished mere days after witnessing her rape, taking her dishonor with him and giving them all an alibi for their grief. But none of that matters. Appearances are useless if she can’t bear the touch of a man.

Jacob Evans welcomes pain as much as he seeks to escape it. The graves of his wife and child remind him of his sins every day. When Lawrence Emerson offers him a job and a chance to move west, Jacob permits himself a fresh start. But letting go of his past is only an illusion. Lawrence’s sweet, shy daughter captures Jacob’s heart and provides him a perfect tool for self-torment.

Despite painful lessons of the past, history soon threatens to repeat itself, and as Jacob’s love for Rachel grows, so does his agony. Giving his precious new wife the life she deserves might cost him the very thing he values most—her.




About Melissa Maygrove
Native Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she's not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities, she's hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.

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68 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting me today! :)

    (Yes, #6 would have been eat chocolate. LOL)

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    1. Now let me try again and subscribe to comments this time. *facepalm*

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    2. Glad you agree about the chocolate :-) You're very welcome.

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  2. Excellent tips! Usually, the what ifs plague my mind at every turn. But not this summer. This has been the season of white noise in my brain.

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    1. I don't know how you do it, lady. Thanks for visiting. :)

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    2. But what a great summer you're having!

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  3. Awesome tips. I always go to the what if. That question has led me to some fantastic stories!

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    1. Thanks! The 'what if' thing certainly turned one of mine on it's head. LOL

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    2. My what-ifs sometimes go a little awry, but it's a good excuse to use the word awry ;-)

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  4. I'm totally with you on #2 and #4, but I think eat chocolate should have been #1. :)

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    1. LOL
      It probably should have. :)

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    2. I definitely haven't been eating enough chocolate :-)

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  5. Melissa...you have too much on your plate (RE bio)...how could you ever have brain freeze?

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    1. I don't have brain freeze. I have brain numb. :D
      Thanks for visiting, Mac. :)

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  6. good tips. I need them right now. I need to eat chocolate too. The newspaper and obits tend to give me ideas. I just need to act on them with plot lines. Good stuff and thanks, Melissa. Have a great week Annalisa

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    1. Ooo. Never thought about the obits, but that could be a gold mine for ideas.
      Thanks for visiting, Joanne.

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    2. I've never thought about the obits either - good shout, Joanne :-)

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  7. Great tips! I can always find something in a movie that's inspiring. I'm also a big fan of the 'what if.'

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Alex. :)

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    2. I could definitely 'see' your story when I read it, Alex - it doesn't surprise me that you're inspired by films!

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  8. Taking a break always works, thanks for sharing these wonderful tips.

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    1. A break is often what I need when I'm totally blocked.
      Thanks for visiting. :)

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    2. I struggle to take proper breaks, I feel guilty. I probably shouldn't.

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  9. Taking a break is always good. I like to watch movies with scenes like what I need to write next in my WIP. Or work on another WIP for a while.

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    1. I've got a short story to work on at the moment - from an old idea that's mutated. It's helping to take the pressure off.

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  10. Good advice. Hate hitting the wall.
    Wishing you all the best with your new release, Melissa.

    Have a great evening, Annalisa.

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  11. Hi, Melissa, Hi, Annalisa!

    Excellent advice. I never did the "What if" thing, but I will definitely try it when I get stuck ... once I start writing again. LOL. Soon, I hope.

    Congrats on your new book, Melissa! And, thanks for the advice.

    Hope it helps, Annalisa. I bet your are tapping those computer keys like mad, now...

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    1. Hi Michael - it's definitely helping. I'm making notes and trying not to self-edit.

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    2. Thanks, Michael. I appreciate the kind words. :)

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  12. Reading a book I already love has always helped me. It's like coming home to something familiar, reminding me why I went on this journey to be a writer in the first place.

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    1. We all need that sometimes.
      Thanks for visiting, Jay. :)

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    2. I love re-reading favourite books anyway - perhaps it's time to break out some oldies!

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  13. Wonderful tips! I like Jay's tip about reading a much-loved book. That helps me, too.

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  14. #5 really resonates with me as that's what I do often; that and walking :-) thanks for the tips, Melissa!

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    1. You must be a visually oriented person like me. :)

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    2. That tip reminded me of an article I saved about an artist who was collecting photos that the owner found too painful to keep. There were some poignant images which stirred my imagination.

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  15. Creating crazy plot lines can be fun.
    I hope you're enjoying much success with Precious Atonement, Melissa.
    Thank you, ladies.

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    1. Thanks! Same to you and yours! :)

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    2. It's the crazy plot line that's my sticking point at the moment, Robyn. Perhaps I should go the other way and document a character's trip to buy groceries where nothing out of the ordinary happens at all?

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  16. The sillier the show the better. Good non-fiction is an amazing way to see good writing. Great ideas.

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    1. Some of my best scenes have come from or been influenced by something I found while doing research. Thanks for visiting, Lee. :)

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    2. I've recently got hooked on time-slip stories. I'm not sure if I'm ever going to write one myself, but it's a great escape.

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  17. Sounds like an interesting love story! And thanks for the advice; I haven't been able to write much lately due to the moving process, but it will be good to get back to reading and writing again. Reading other people's books, especially ones that I admire, is definitely inspirational, because I always learn something from them.

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    1. Thanks, Workaholic.
      Moving would block anyone! LOL Hope you get back in the grove soon. :)

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    2. I always learn from my favourite writers too. Good luck with the writing :-)

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  18. Great advice that I needed to read. Thanks for sharing, ladies!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Julie. :)

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    2. Hi Julie. I've started on Polar Day - loving it so far, albeit in a creeped-out kind of way ;-)

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  19. Great advice. When I get totally blocked the " what if" words for me , if not I take my what ifs on a long dog walk and let my mind go. The dogs love it and I usually can't wait to get home and write stuff down before I forget it. Or, sometimes I just veg out all day watching old reruns of crime fiction television series and try and spin something old into new.

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    1. The what-if is awesome. My plotting greatly improved when I learned that trick.

      Thanks for visiting, Melissa. :)

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    2. Walking definitely helps me - my dog is great for forcing me out of the house, especially as I've been vegging for far too long!

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  20. Perfect advice. I would only add one more: if all else fails, just WRITE. Write trash and nonsense, don't edit yourself, and after a while the garbage will clear out and something real will emerge. Thanks, Melissa!

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    1. Or play around with a random sentence generator and let it write for you. You'd be surprised how inspiring those can be.

      Thanks for visiting, Liz. :)

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    2. Unfortunately, I want everything that goes down on paper to be pure genius. I'd be in full-on cold sweat mode if I allowed myself to write rubbish :-)

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  21. Yes to all of that, Melissa. I especially love, "Read quality fiction."

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    1. Double-dipping the comments, Lee. You must really want to win. :P

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  22. Congratulations, Julie!
    I'm on my way to contact you now about your prize! :)

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  23. Melissa, you and I share the same approach to writer's block. (Although I call the vicious type where you can't write anything burn-out.)

    Your new story sounds beautiful. Looking forward to reading it in the near future. :-)

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    1. Burn-out. That's a good name for it.
      Thank you, Misha. I hope you enjoy it. :)

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    2. Sounds like I'm suffering burn-out, to be honest.

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  24. Great pointers! I attended a workshop where the speaker said poetry can often get you into creative mode, then always writing on paper to start. She said writing on paper can unblock you. I haven't tried it, but it can't hurt!

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    1. Those are good tips.

      My favorite one for being blocked with phrasing (stuck in a 'phrasing rut' I call it) is to use one of those random sentence generators. The sentences they create are sometimes silly and often don't make sense, but my mind tries to make sense of them, and that gets my prose flowing again. You'd be surprised what kinds of clever wording they can give rise to! :)

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    2. I always start on paper. I really struggle with 'straight to screen'.

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Please comment - I love a good chat!