As a writer, if you haven’t already, you will one day inevitably experience the phenomena that is known as Writer’s Block. In a way, it is a right of passage in the literary world; it’s something we love to complain about on Twitter and use as an excuse for procrastinating.
Here is what Wiki has to say:
Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. This loss of ability to write and produce new work is not a result of commitment problems or the lack of writing skills. The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Writer’s block is not solely measured by time passing without writing. It is measured by time passing without productivity in the task at hand.Wikipedia, 29/8/2020
The above article goes on to mention a number of factors that can stop a writer – physical injuries, little or no inspiration or new ideas, distraction from writing and so on. While these are all valid reasons for not writing, I wouldn’t class these as writer’s block; these are barriers to writing. Several writers I follow on Twitter have struggled to write due to the pandemic and the nightmare that 2020 has wrought upon the world, which shows that our environment and stressors also play a role in productivity.
I’m not talking about barriers though. I’m talking about when a writer is some way into their WIP (work in progress) and hits a wall. Hard. There is no way to move the characters, no way to back track, or to twist and turn. You’ve hit a brick wall and broken the proverbial axle, and now you can’t move.
So what should you do when you come across a crudely drawn wizard blocking your path, and you can’t progress your story? Here are a few methods I use. Note: this is what works for me. Every writer is different. The trick is to find what works for you. I don’t think it matters whether a writer is a plotter or a pantser; either way, the creative flow has been blocked and needs a good flush.
It’s not like we don’t already question ourselves every sentence, right? When I hit a wall, I sit back and ask myself questions like:
“Did I just add in drama that wasn’t necessary?”
“Was that even remotely realistic?”
“Am I rambling on about nothing?”
“Is this chapter working, or do I need to scrap 5k words and start over?”
“I’ve already written 50 traveling scenes. How can I make this one different without going over the top?”
I spent almost 2 days writing a chapter set within the city of Karatha in The Lowest Realm. In the original scene, a militia patrol rode through the town and searched the inn where my heroes were staying. I had them make this totally ridiculous getaway from the city, involving a large explosion and lots of unrealistic magic use.
I hit a wall. I walked away and came back to it, then deleted the whole thing. The entire scene was turned into an R&R scene (complete with some love-making wink wink), and paved the way to the next chapter. It also gave me a chance to delve into a little backstory.
Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, you still need to have some idea of the story in mind, and a way to keep it on track. Some people choose to write scenes out of order and all over the place (which is fine if that’s what you like), but at the end of the day, the scenes/chapters need to be connected to each other and be relevant. I like to make a chapter list with a one or two word prompt for what will happen, and make sure I’m not straying from the path.
Ch 1. Visit the king.
Ch 2. Library.
Ch 3. Drama
Whatever keeps you grounded and on the right track. This can also help with identifying plot holes.
This probably sounds ridiculous, but check your muse!! For me, my muse is music. I can randomly stumble upon a song which makes my brain explode, and I am suddenly able to write for hours, days, weeks, months, with just that one song on loop. I found this cover of Springsteen’s I’m on Fire by Mumford & Sons, and it pretty much gave me the super powers needed to write The Lowest Realm. Without this song, it still would not have been published.
Right now, my muse is broken. I have used her up, drained her soul, and I have been at a loss. I have found a 30 minute mix that has been keeping me focused, but to be honest, it has been a struggle. I have been listening to all sorts of music to try and find my new muse, but it could take a while.
This last week, I’ve been faced by my wizard scribble, and to be honest, I was once again hating where The Darkest Realm was at. I managed to cheat my word count goal by restoring around 3k words that I had removed in the rewrite, but after that point, I was stuck.
What do we do if we have lost our muse – or don’t yet know what our muse is?
Inspiration comes from the strangest places. Yesterday, I was beta reading a story for a friend. As soon as I read the words “leather jerkin”, I had a powerful wave of inspiration – that has nothing to do with leather jerkins, mind you (10 points for thinking ‘jerkin in the jerkin’ lol). I have totally just created a new element to The Darkest Realm, that ties in with my back stories, my forward stories, and the overall story as a whole.
If you have seriously hit the wall so hard that you’ve given yourself a concussion and can’t write, that’s when I suggest you put your project aside for a day or three, or maybe a week. Watch some movies, read a book, go for a walk. Give your brain time to air and reset itself. If you have looked at it from all possible angles, asked all the right questions, maybe your story idea is just not ready to be written yet.
I got to 20k words in the follow-up of Catalogue of Disaster, and hit the wall. After doing all of the above, I realised my idea didn’t have enough juice to make it a full story. When I sat back and thought about it, the plot does have potential, but it really wasn’t strong enough to write an entire book. I still have that half-written story, and will probably make it into a free short story in a member’s only section of my site down the track. But for me, I realised it was time to let go and sit it aside. I did this 18 years ago with The Lowest Realm, before I had my awakening.
Writer’s Block is being unable to write due to issues within the writing, such as a blocked muse pipe, or issues in the plot plumbing. They can usually be fixed by analysing one’s work, and diagnosing that problem.
Barriers are things such as stress and the environment around us (AKA pandemic), physical barriers such as illness/injury, broken laptop, lack of inspiration.
Whatever is stopping you from writing, just know that you can (and will!) overcome it. Remember that writing is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to get the pieces aligned the right way so they slot in perfectly.
Happy writing, my frens xx
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the identity of the author and what they’ve written–and indeed if they are qualified to write them. What’s…The Demons Within
I came across this post by one of my fave authors (who I see as a good friend), and decided to reblog with my own thoughts on the matter.
Before joining Twitter, I lived in my own little bubble, writing the stories I love with characters I identify with most. I was never out, not even to myself until sometime during the last 12 months.
When the ‘Sasha’ scandal rocked Twitter, and it was discovered that a dude was pretending to be a lesbian (and subsequently sexting with a bunch of women, manipulating them. Urgh!!), a few of the authors I looked up to Tweeted that people writing queer books should be queer, or include a disclaimer in their books stating that they are cishet or something to that effect.
This led me to feel that I’m not ‘queer enough’, and pushed me somewhat out. I felt like a imposter – people see the name ‘Amy-Alex’ and assume Amy = woman, therefore, I must be cishet bored housewife, profiteering off fetishising M/M relationships. How dare I write about gay men, when I myself am not a gay man.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
There was then the mention of pen names, and a few peopole voiced strong opinions against those, too. ‘They are misleading!’ They said.
No. They protect those of us who have professional jobs, stalkers, and all sorts of reasons that the writer has no obligation to justify. I work in a place which involves children, I hardly think some of the parents would appreciate some of the content I write.
Authors are under no obligation to announce their gender, sexuality, or even their true identity. Ever.
I have no problem with cis people writing queer, so long as they represent the community in an appropriate way. Some people don’t realise they belong to the community until after they write their stories. Everyone’s journey is different, after all.
It’s also never ok to out others without their consent. Ever.
There is so much I could go on to say, like the fetish circles that leave fake 1* and 2* reviews on legit queer authors, just so they can draw readers across to the cishet written stuff. At the end of the day, though, I’m not here to get caught up in the drama of Twitter and other social media sotes.
I’m here to write whatever the hell I want to write. I write first for me, and secondly for my readers.
I am not here to out myself, either. It’s no one’s business how I identify, who I’m attracted to, or who I’m married to. Yes this is a pen name, and no, I am not obligated to justify this.
Howdy! I’m still in denial that it’s September already. I have roughly 3 months to pen The Darkest Realm – deadline is 14th December and I’m feeling a little stressed about it, to be honest.
I’m sure I’ll be ok. I’ve chopped off even more, and I’m down to 18,909 words. I’ve changed my outline and have given it a more feasible backstory.
I’ve changed up Yger a bit too. I’m hoping she will start playing nicely with our boys from here on.
My upcoming book is just about to be sent to my proofreader, then I’ll be free to do the internal setup and organise the cover. It’s all happening!
In my private life, I have managed to roster myself back to 4 days a week, which gives me 2 days for solid writing and a rest day (though I’ll probably write on that day too).
Due to restrictions in Victoria, all parcels being sent to the state are experiencing delays. I had a slight glitch affecting my emails a week or so ago, so if you haven’t received your tracking number, check your spam folder, and feel free to reach out too.
AusPost is experiencing delays. If you have not received your tracking number, check your spam folder or send me an email / dm on Facebook.
Don’t forget I have a few events coming up.
Cover and title reveal: 27th September. I will do a Facebook live video and unveil my book.Pre-sales will launch.
Online book launch: 27th October. Once again I will do a live video for the above mystery book. All preorders will be automatically released that day.
It will be my first time doing such an event, so it’s a bit scary! It should be fun though 🙂
Until then, take care my peeps!
Time for another update! I’m a bit excited – I have finished self-editing of my WIP (work in progress), and I have just sent the manuscript out to two of my beta readers. These betas (who ‘test drive’ the story) both beta read Catalogue of Disaster for me, so I’ll be interested to see what they think of this installment.
I have also commissioned an artist to draw an illustration for the front flap of the book, which I am super-excited about. Previously, I have always used an animal that features in the book, but this time it will be an image that is key to the story line (not giving any spoilers!)
I have come up with the title finally, but shhh, I’m not telling anyone what it is yet! You’ll just have to wait for the big reveal! Get excited for this one!
Cover and title reveal – 27th September.
Official publish date – 27th October.
I have added a tracker widget to display my word count for The Darkest Realm. Seeing as I have already written around 20k words before I shelved it, it will take me a little bit to read through it, cut out chunks, and restart it. I will do my best to update the tracker each day as I write, so you can watch my progress.
If browsing the site via computer, it will show to the right of your screen —–>
If browsing using a phone, you’ll need to scroll allll the way down my ramblings to the bottom where the widgets are displayed.
My schedule is somewhat packed for the next few weeks, but I will try and keep you updated with teasers and snippets.
Stay safe everyone, you’ll hear from me soon!
Today I have been playing around with the website. I have added some sub-menus so I can keep the header neat and tidy, and introduced a Lore section for The Miscreant. So far, I have uploaded the maps from book 1 in both pen and digital colour. Over time, I hope to add in things such as pronunciation, character bios, etc. to help give that extra level. I used to love reading interviews with my fave characters, so hopefully I can do something cool like this too.
I would love to add a fan art section…if only I get fans some day who wish to draw my characters!
I have also added in a section for Marsden Park, and have posted about my inspiration for the library and the series. When I get around to it, I might even draw up a floor plan, as it has been pointed out that I didn’t describe the library much in Catalogue of Disaster.
Homeless Affair still needs a name. It is 2 chapters off being finished, though I have been stuck on a single scene for a week. Hopefully I’ll get through that tonight.
In the meantime, today I purchased a Square reader and dock, so at my future book launches, I’ll be able to take card payments! I am so excited about this.
Today, I have been able to upgrade my website to allow an integrated store right here on my site! This means no redirections to other websites, everything is kept in one place, and is super easy to use. It is powered by Woo Commerce, which is one of the most trusted e-commerce sites.
This means I can run my own promotions and hand out coupon codes for discounts, and add new books as they are published. It allows payments through PayPal (my fave) or Stripe, which allows the customer to use their credit card safely and securely.
This also means that customers can create an account and will have their own cart and checkout screen, to help keep everything professional and clean. I have waited almost a year to finally take this step (websites are expensive, especially to have an online store), so I am super excited!!
To celebrate, I am offering 20% discount off paperbacks until August 1st! Use code 20JULY20 at checkout to take advantage of this offer.
Much love, AAC <3
Inspiration strikes us at the strangest (and most inconvenient) times. While plotting The Darkest Realm, I had a random idea to give Arnie-Kyn some armour. I just googled ‘cat wearing armour’ and wasn’t disappointed!
So, originally I was going to work this into TDR, but now it will be written into book 3, The Final Realm. I will be commissioning a piece of artwork soon of Arnie wearing armour soon, which will be added to my RedBubble store.
I think we all need more cats wearing armour in our lives! Which one do you like the most here? Comment below. Found an awesome pic that I haven’t included? Let me know so I can add it in (and credit the artist of course!)
That’s all from me now. Here are some fierce pics of cats wearing armour.
Updated 11 Sept 2021
I am pleased to announce the launch of my new online store!
Storenvy is a new type of store – it encompasses a social media-type-platform the enables users to follow their fave stores, and like/share to Facebook. I’ve been trialing a number of different platforms, and so far this one is the easiest to use.
To visit the store, simply click on the BUY PAPERBACKS link at the top of this page (pictured), and the store will launch in a new tab.
The only downside is that Storenvy does not yet offer local currencies – it is an American company. Therefore, I have listed the prices in USD, and these will convert to AUD when you pay through PayPal.
eBooks are still available through Amazon, simply click the BUY EBOOKS tab for the links.
I just want to reiterate that I use Print on Demand via IngramSpark for printing my books. They have printing facilities in Australia, USA, Europe etc, which means your books will be shipped from your nearest facility. Only books ordered from Australia will be shipped by myself, and will have the option to be autographed.
If you are not in Australia but want your book signed, email me and I can calculate shipping at your expense. Shipping can be around $60-80 Au to USA and Europe, it’s not cheap!
Homeless Affair is at the 50,000 word mark, so not much longer until it’s finished! Watch this space!
I can’t believe it’s July already. I wonder what disaster we’ll get this month?
I had something interesting happen the other night, while I was working on my novel (still very focused on this project btw, that’s why I haven’t posted for a while).
I was writing a sad scene, and before I knew it I burst into tears. I have NEVER cried while reading, let alone while writing!
There is a scene towards the end of The Lowest Realm where I felt sad and my eyes watered a little bit, but I didn’t actually cry. Well, this time, I was sobbing my heart out.
It is said amongst the writing community that if the writer doesn’t cry or feel an emotional response, neither will the reader. I’m a little nervous to see what my beta readers will say about this one…have I made it too sad?
Have you ever cried while reading a book? If so, which books? Leave a comment below 🙂
As of this week, I am back up to 5 days per week in my regular job. This means less hours for writing, which sucks. I’m getting the itch to return to book 2 of The Miscreant, so once my current project is done, I’ll be back to it. I think I mentioned previously that my goal is to have book 2 published by Feb 2021 in time for Fair Day (part of Sydney LGBTQ+ Mardi Gras).
Stay safe peeps ❤️
Since when did May end?? I swear I just posted a week ago…..and now we’re halfway through June! I doubt that anyone actually missed my posts or me…(except my number 1 fan, my mother ❤️ Hi Donk!)
I’ve been back at work for a few weeks now. The fun part is that I’m not yet full-time – our max hours per week are 25 hours, which is 4 days of work, 3 to write.
I’ve been working on A Homeless Affair (temp title) almost every non-work day since I submitted my assignment for uni. I’m still dreading that result coming back…but anyways.
A Homeless Affair is taking a lot of time to come to fruition. I have put in endless research for this one, and it is very close to my heart – even more so than Catalogue of Disaster.
I can’t remember if I discussed this in a previous post or not. AHA is a much darker story, and touches on childhood abuse (not sexual abuse), homelessness, and mental health.
As this plot has evolved, my characters have grown into two complex (and lovable) souls. Every time I think about writing ‘the conflict’ scene, which is about to happen, I get all upset because I know it is going to hurt them both deeply, and I feel like a bad author-mum lol.
Warning: some readers will probably cry while reading this book.
Why so dark this time?
I want to draw attention to homelessness. For many, we see people sleeping at Central Station, and begging in Dawson Mall or near Westpoint (Western Sydney). We don’t see the ‘why’.
It can be financial woes, drug addiction, or mental health issues.
There are many reason why, and this can be something such as domestic abuse causing someone to be homeless. It can be to escape family abuse (in the case of a child), fear of being institutionalised, or it can be because housing is so bloody expensive in Sydney.
Whatever the reason, homeless people are people, and they matter too. The Australian government is still slow in addressing this issue, but luckily we do have a lot of services here to help. We do need to do more as a country to address this though.
There are a lot of themes in this book, and I want to get it absolutely right. This isn’t a rush-job like Catalogue of Disaster. This one is a special project, so it may take another month or 3 before it’s ready.
I should mention that AHA is set in the same area / timeframe as COD. If you have read COD first, you may even notice a few sneaky crossovers in there. As such, I have nick-named this the Marsden Park series.
Series? Yep. I may write more Western Sydney stories over time, and I may even flesh out COD a little more and re-publish down the track. But for now, I will be revisiting The Darkest Realm once AHA is sitting on my bookshelf.
I know some of you are begging me to hurry the eff up with TDR. This is how it is: write something crap that is a shitty book 2, of sit on it for a while, and come out with something that’s even better than book 1, that carries the story forward and does Nika and Freyne justice. I’m sure you’d just love to meet our villain and get inside his head, right?
My goal is to have TDR published in time for Fair Day 2021, which is in February. So that’s 8 months. I can do this! This will give me 4 books to sell at Fair Day 😁
Anyways….don’t forget to follow me on Twitter or Facebook – those are the two socials I am most active on. You can also subscribe to this blog, and receive emails whenever I post to my blog.
I love to hear from my readers, so don’t be shy! Reach out via any social channel or email, I’m always keen to have a chat 🙂
Take care lovely’s 😘