Just the Facts, Ma'am

Thonie Hevron; bringing you the stories behind the badge

Writers’ Notes: Hitting That Brick Wall

By Thonie Hevron

Everybody's a critic

Everybody’s a critic.

Everyone has time when they come across a barrier to their progress. It happened often when I first learned how to ride horses. All the videos, books, advice and trainers’ lessons barraged my consciousness while I was trying to effectively steer a 1300-pound animal with a brain the size of a walnut. [To be painfully accurate: The problem is the cerebrum, the thinking part, is only slightly larger than a walnut. The rest–all 1.5 to 2 lbs. of it–is  cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls gross muscle coordination, balance and body functions.]

The one thing that got me on track was a trainer saying, “If it’s not working, go back to basics.” Start from the beginning and work up until you work though the barrier. Usually by the time I did all that, the barrier had dropped. To borrow from Horse Listening, a wonderful training site, I’ve para-phrased the popular equine rider training blog (dated originally 2/24/2013) and applied them to the writing craft: 10 Tips for the Average Rider.

1. Find a good teacher-whether it’s a night class, an MFA, a mentor or a critique group, find someone who will urge you on, teach you new things, and maybe find another way to look at the same old issue.

2. Be patient-no way around this.

3. Practice-write every day, even if it’s journaling, blogging, marketing text. Just practice.

4. Accept your limitations-okay, I know I’ll never write the great American Literary Novel. But I can put out a pretty darn good mystery/thriller!

5. Find your comfort/un-comfort-whether it’s writing a love or action scene/making a speech or putting your work out there (in all probability to be dismissed by agents, publishers, etc.), learn to do it. Baby steps, practice all come into play here.

6. Enjoy the moment-this refers to when a horse does all the things your fingers, hands, back, butt and legs are telling him to do—at the same time. There’s no better feeling than the gliding on air of sinewy suspension, unless it’s getting an ovation after a talk or class you’ve given. Maybe your first fan mail. Enjoy it, savor the feeling. This is what can keep you going.

7. Set goal-short term (500 words today), long term (a completed manuscript by May 2018) and/or marketing plan. My publisher required me to do one for each book and they are invaluable.

8. Persevere-if you quit, it’s a sure thing you will fail. So, don’t.

9. Read, watch, imitate-Read craft books, watch your favorite author’s marketing technique/website and imitate!

10. Keep practicing-develop a routine so there’s no wiggle room to say, “Ooh, I don’t feel like writing today.”
monitorSee how this applies to writing? There are some days when I sit and stare at my blank page. The characters are revolting, the story arc fell flat, dialog is stilted. Okay, start at the beginning. Write one sentence. Don’t like it? Tough. Delete it tomorrow. Write another sentence, put some dialog in it. Throw in a twist that you didn’t plan. Write another sentence.

Pretty soon a whole scene will lay before you. If you don’t like it, wait until tomorrow to delete it. Give it some time to percolate in your imagination. Maybe losing it is what needs to happen; maybe this little side-trip is what you needed to jump-start your creativity.
I cannot buy into writer’s block—for me. I can only speak for myself. When I decided to make writing a professional enterprise, my husband and I decided it needed to treat it like a job. And it is. During my law enforcement career, I went to work every day. The boss wouldn’t have kept paying me if I’d said, “I’m not coming in today. My muse is on vacation.”

When I write, I apply the same principle. My writing routine varies with the seasons, family needs and activities. And, I may not work on my current novel. I have an active blog with two posts a week, a website, marketing and appearances to prepare. There is always something to do to further my writing.

Other ideas to move me through a rough patch:
• Go back to my initial inspiration for the story and review. See if I can capture the spirit of it.
• I go for a walk or hike; a trip to the beach. Sometimes, getting away from that blank page can refresh my creativity.
• I’m an inveterate note-taker. Often reviewing these scribbles can nudge me back to where I need to go.

 

Marni K Graff Hdshot

Marni Graff

The upcoming Fridays in November, you will find three other authors’ perspective on how they re-start their muse. If you’re like me, you’ll find something to help you over that hurdle. Marni Graff will appear on November 10th, Nancy Raven Smith on November 17th, and Pamela Beason is the final post on November 24th.

 

~~~

Don’t forget to check out the Sunday posts from the law enforcement veterans, Hal Collier, Mikey, and Ed Meckle (all retired LAPD), and retired California Corrections Officer John Schick. Their stories will make you laugh, cry, cringe or all the above!

 

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9 comments on “Writers’ Notes: Hitting That Brick Wall

  1. Jo Lauer
    November 3, 2017

    Thanks, Thonnie. I had just hit said brick wall. Your suggestions were most helpful, plus doing a no-holds-barred “what would happen if…” brainstorming on paper.

    Like

  2. robinofrockridge
    November 3, 2017

    Reblogged this on Robin of Rockridge's Blog and commented:
    Thank you, Thonie Hevron! I’m going to reblog your blog.
    This is just the kick in the pants to get my writing engine fired up again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. robinofrockridge
    November 3, 2017

    Thank you, Thonie! This was just what I needed to get back to writing following a long leave of absense for family reasons. I’m going to reblog it too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thonie Hevron
      November 3, 2017

      Hope you found something that will help, Robin. Thanks for the re-blog!

      Like

  4. Horse Listening
    November 3, 2017

    I’m thrilled that you found my horsey article useful enough to inform your writing. As a wanna-be novelist, I enjoyed your points as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thonie Hevron
      November 3, 2017

      Glad you enjoyed the post. I had my article written but when I read your post I had to re-write it! I enjoy your posts every week!

      Like

  5. Noor Sherfawi
    November 4, 2017

    that was lovely, keep them coming 🙂

    Like

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Cop Talk

For all things about cop culture-the work, the family, the days off.

The purpose of this page is to educate writers of all genres to be accurate in their portrayal of law enforcement professionals. This includes meter maids (I was a "lovely Rita" many years ago), dispatcher, patrol officers, detectives, and administrators.

I have many resources in my 35 year career in California law enforcement. I index and explain common errors that found in all media. Guests will also post about police professionalism today and tomorrow as well as historical articles about the way things used to be, "back in the day".

Examples of police media myths: missing persons cannot be reported by anyone but the family; missing persons reports can't be taken until the subject has been missing 24 hours; all cops eat donuts.

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Just the Facts, Ma'am posts Sundays and Fridays. Sundays scheduled writers Hal Collier, Ed Meckle, Mikey, and John Schick take us through the days and nights of those who protect and serve.
Friday postings feature authors sharing their thoughts about this journey we call authorship.
Extra postings will include California 'Officer Down' notices or something special. I will update progress of my current literary project as they develop.
--Thonie Hevron

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