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Trying Dictation Again

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Now that I'm over my bout of writer's block, I suppose I'm feeling a little panicked about getting as much done as I can before the next bout of writer's block hits. I know that's very irrational, because sometimes writer's block hits because of some problem with the writing that I have to address, so writing more now might only hasten the arrival of my next bout of writer's block.

Even when I was working in biology research, I was always interested in optimizing processes. I've carried that over to my writing, and tried to optimize my writing process over the years.

So I did some Internet searches on writing faster, and I found the books 2k to 10k, and 5,000 Words Per Hour. Both books had very good tips and advice.

In the 2K to 10K book, I liked the advice about jotting notes in detail about the scene you're about to write. I had never done this consistently, but when I did, I noticed that writing the scene went much more smoothly. I also liked her…

My experience with Writer's Block

It’s been a few years since I last had a book out, and while some of that is because I changed my mind about how I wanted the next book to go, for some of that time I had a few bad bouts of writer’s block.

I know there are people who say writer’s block doesn’t exist, and/or it’s just your subconscious trying to tell you something about your story or about your own emotional state. I’m not here to debate that. All I know is that I couldn’t write, for whatever reasons, when I hadn’t had bad writer’s block during my time writing for Love Inspired, Guideposts, and Zondervan.

I know that sometimes when I had writer’s block, it was due to stress. There were family issues that came up and I could clearly tell that I was worried and that made it difficult for me to focus emotionally on writing. I personally need a calm heart and clear mind to create fiction, and it’s very hard for me to write when I’m emotionally upset. Some writers rage-write or cry-write to great emotional impact, but I’m n…

Ira Glass quote

kapitan_kraken posted this quote on the writing subreddit:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close…

Timed writing sprints #writersblock #writingtips

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I’ve been struggling with writer’s block/lack of motivation in my writing for several months now, and I’ve been battling it the way I’ve always battled it before—I sit my butt down in a chair and force myself to write, powering through the blah feeling and writing absolute crap as if I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned about writing prose.

The problem with this is that if the writer’s block/lack of motivation lasts for a long time, that kind of “powering through it” can get really tiring. So I’ve also been reading writing books to try to glean some new trick or technique to use.

I read 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox and I really liked his concept of timed writing sprints. I found that the time pressure really helped me to turn off the internal editor and just write.

Rather than being stuck on a particular scene or page, I would force myself to just write whatever came to mind even if it was trite and bland, because I can always fix it later. If I really couldn’t think of somethi…

Audio Commentaries for Movies

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I just discovered a great resource for inspiration, reminders, and tips for writing. I’ve been in a bit of a plotting rut and so I do what I usually do, which is watch TV shows and movies. This time, I watched the audio commentary for one of my favorite movies, Captain America: Civil War.

I didn’t realize that I’d get so many great ideas for plotting, characterization, dialogue beats, theme, mood, and setting by listening to the directors and the screenwriters comment as they viewed the movie. It not only gave me a springboard for my own plot and character ideas, but it reminded me of techniques I’d forgotten about, which helped me in my story structure and character development.

It’s a shame that I’m only realizing this now, because it’s a resource I’ve always had, in the movies I’ve bought on iTunes, but never utilized. I’ll definitely be using this more in future.

I hope this tip helps you guys, too—pick your favorite movie and listen to the audio commentary. You never know what ne…

Fluff in Dialogue

Jim asked another question:

The guidelines for eliminating fluff or fillers were very helpful. I learned a lot from them. (I know, I shouldn’t have used “a lot”. Having said that, do these same rules or guidelines apply to dialogue as they do with narrative? It appears that we can use unfinished or incomplete sentences, poor grammar, pauses, etc. in dialogue. Do we have the same exemption when it comes to fluff or filler words within dialogue?

As asked above, even if we are not bound by the same rules within dialogue, would it be better to still remove as many fluff words such as that, very, really, just, get, got, etc. as possible?


Camy here: In dialogue, it’s fine to have incomplete sentences, poor grammar, etc. But also be aware that dialogue in fiction isn’t really true dialogue—it’s kind of like the difference between a real mixed martial arts fight and a scripted fight on TV. The moves are all the same but on TV, the scripted fight is made to look prettier and flow better and be …

Q&A: Can Dialogue be Backstory Dumping?

It’s been a while, but I was finally cleaning out my Inbox and got a question from Jim. He wrote book one in a series aimed at 6-9 year olds, but he had a question about the second book in the series:

At this point, I used Book 2 to allow the child’s siblings to ask and receive answers about what he’s been doing the past 8 months. This was done via dialogue.

Would this be considered Backstory dumping when it’s a second book and responds to a different “now”. If it’s not considered “dumping”, would it still be preferable to eliminate the 6-8 chapters in book 2 and go with the “dribble” the backstory approach?


Camy here: Honestly, it’s entirely up to you. I’ve seen children’s books that have massive backstory dumps, and others where the backstory is more gradually inserted as the story goes along.

I’ve also seen books where the backstory is only briefly outlined. (For example: “Harry explained about how he got somehow entered into the Goblet of Fire and had to compete in dangerous tasks …