Monday, June 21, 2010

Source of inspiration

by Jim

We talk all the time about how important it is to use social media to connect with readers. And it IS. But sometimes it’s crazy hard to come up with something to say. I’m fully aware of this. So aware of it, in fact, that I have virtually nothing to say RIGHT NOW.

I’ve been staring at this blank screen as my inbox gets more and more full, and coming up with something to post today becomes a more and more imposing task.

Now, I could give a pretty full breakdown of last week’s episodes of So You Think You Can Dance (Team Billy!) or catch you up with what’s going on with the World Cup (haha…France), but that doesn’t really jibe with the subject matter of our blog.

So instead, let’s talk about something else: writers’ block. Or…bloggers’ block, I suppose. Where do you turn when your mind is just a blank? And is it the same as when you get blocked while writing a book? Different? Better? Worse?

And also, just in case in comes up again that somewhere down the road I have NOTHING to say (which is pretty rare but does happen!), are there any specific requests our readers have for content they’d like to see from me (or us)?

Lastly, is turning it over to the readers to help identify material/content totally lame or totally acceptable?

P.S. I guest blogged in greater detail over at What Women Write today. Check it out!


  1. Team Billy? Really? Me = Team Alex!!!

    Anywaaaaay...I'd love to see you do a breakdown of what works in a query using a real query (you did this for Carrie Ryan's query in maybe more examples of this sort of thing?) I'm having a brain block today, too. Oh Monday.

  2. As Cambria said, what grabbed you about a query, but also stats.

    How much is in your inbox, what date you're currently responding to, how many rejects vs partials vs full vs "yes!".

    What you're looking for (you've been inundated with paranormal and now you're looking for baseball romances, or whatever).

    Yes, even if you've posted it before, it can change from day to day and I never get tired of reading it :)

  3. This is exactly why I don't blog. And I mean that in a nice way.

    It's hard enough for the people who really enjoy social media to get attention already. Those who blog because "you have to do it these days" are so much better off doing something else, like working on the next book.

    That said, I don't see a single thing wrong with asking readers to suggest topics. That's not lame, it's simply opening a dialogue--which the best blogs do anyway.


    Best of luck!


  4. Um - Team Kent!!

    I get Blogger's Block all the time (and have yet to find a medication that helps). Blogging everyday has its disadvantages, not to mention a blow to the wallet with all the 'medication' I've been trying :)

    As Suzi said, we never get tired of reading about the trends, or the stats. And new readers, such as myself, look forward to agents who will offer query gems even when they think they've done them to death. I'm fascinated by 'voice' so anything on that subject would be perfect (so subjective, but so very important for writing, querying, agenting, publishing).

    Thanks. Oh, I find turning it over to the readers perfectly acceptable.

  5. I always seem to have something to say which is probably why I haven't struggled with writer's block--yet. I also haven't been blogging or writing as long as most, so it could happen. If you're ever stuck for ideas, I love it when you give book recommendations. I just bought The Passage this weekend and can't wait to start it!

  6. What a timely post! I had blogger's block today as well.

    Um, I wouldn't mind at all if you blogged about So You Think You Can Dance. :o) (Team Kent!) Maybe you could tie the show into writing somehow... Haha.

    Anyway, I'd be interested to learn more about how your clients have marketed their books. People often talk about the importance of social networking, but what are some other ways that authors can get their names out there?

  7. More than once I will hit that proverbial block, which is why I try to keep a backlog of prescheduled posts. Lately, though,I've been running that schedule pretty tightly, and if the muse didn't arrive in time, my readers would end up with reruns. Somehow, in the end something always shows up. Of course I only post once a week. I'll say this though. I look at the events in my life and in the world through a different filter now. Everything is evaluated as a potential topic for a post. For example, the novel I am reading now I simultaneously read for pleasure and also to mine it for material for another blog post. A cousin will call me and the style of our conversation will become a post in which I explore the use of multiple languages ("Speaking Bilingual" scheduled for this Friday). Etc etc So far this is enjoyable. I hope it stays that way.

  8. I don't update my blog often enough to get blogger's block. Wait, that sounds bad...I've only recently started using my blog and my posts still aren't that frequent. Blogging is a habit I'm building, but I've started making a list of topics I'd like to talk about down the road. That way, if I start feeling like I should post, I have several ideas ready to address. I think it will be more difficult to avoid blogger's block when/if I ever start blogging more regularly (a couple times a week or more).

    For writer's block...I usually combat it by revising, or by taking a book or movie I didn't like the ending to and imagining how I would have wanted things to turn out. My brain then usually warps the idea so much that the original inspiration isn't all that obvious.

  9. This happens to me often! Sometimes I'll just start writing until a topic begins to form. Or, I might take a thread that someone else has blogged about and twist it a little bit. I keep a file with notes and articles that might inspire an idea.

    By the way, thanks for the shout out to our What Women Write blog--and for blogging there!

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  11. First of all, I think blogreaders love it when their opinion is asked!

    My blogger's block solution? Whenever a good post topic comes to mind, coinciding with some free time (ha!), I write it and save it in my drafts folder (since I have, of course, already posted that day). Then I save it for, well, a rainy day pouring down blank screens with nothing to say.

  12. I usually go to the movies to fight off writer's block. Or read blogs that have blogger's blog.:)

  13. Oppsss... typo - * blogger's block.

  14. I would like for you and your colleagues to write about what happens when you can't sell a book. What suggestions do you offer to writers when the work you've been trying to sell won't sell? And of the projects you take on, how many don't sell?

  15. What Melody said.

    Books that don't sell for reasons no one could anticipate -- that would be a great topic. So would serendipitous or speedy sales (say you happened to know someone who knew someone who was interested in a particular subject and a proposal just popped into your in-box). The fastest sale ever made vs the slowest one would interest me, and so would interesting translation or ghost-writing stories.

    Writers are lucky in this respect. We've got rewriting angst and rejection miseries to whine about. Too bad you can't turn to the slush pile for inspiration: oodles of material there, just going to waste.

  16. When in doubt post a funny video about writing! I keep a list and jot down blog post ideas when I get them. My blog is about where writing meets life ... so there is a never ending supply of ideas!

  17. For those looking for blogs on query letters, just go to the bottom of this page and click SLUSH WEEK. These guys have already given a massive amount of useful info there.

    Subjects I would like: something defining literary and commercial fiction. Is there an overlap? Is literary fiction just intricate wordplay with little or no story? Is commercial fiction just genre pulp without true and worthy merit?

    What are the biggest selling topics; now and an 18 month prediction?

    What’s happening in percentage terms of hardback paperback sales?

    Why do wanna-be authors get extra notice by agents if they are members of “we like to write societies” when all it really shows is an ability to pay annual subscriptions?

    Well, that’s my 5 minutes worth. As for all the people with “Bolger’s block” having nothing to write about is much better than writing about nothing. So don’t worry it’s no more serious than an outgrowing toenail.

  18. Another topic: What is great writing? In comments on rehash stories someone said (this is not verbatim) “so long as the author produces great writing it will win though.” But for me great writing is the author exposing his/her imagination and laying it on the page so the reader can pick it up. It doesn’t have to be full of $50 words when there are 2c that can do the job. Great writing for me is, the telling of a story. What is great writing?

  19. A couple more topics. An agent’s view, on the importance of conflict in a manuscript.
    An agents view, on changes of points of view in a manuscript.

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