Slaying Dragons by Jane Kindred
There are writers—some very famous and successful ones—who don’t believe in writer’s block, who think it’s a sign of an amateur or someone who isn’t committed to their craft. To that, I say bollocks. (It’s one of my favorite words, so I try to fit it in wherever I can.) These writers may never experience writer’s block, and that’s wonderful for them. Some lucky people never suffer from depression, either. But it would be rather obnoxious to tell a depressed person that depression doesn’t exist because you’ve never had it. So why do we think it’s okay to tell writers they’re lazy or self-indulgent if they feel blocked?
My depression and writer’s block tend to go hand-in-hand. The irony, of course, is that if I don’t write, I get depressed. And now that I have deadlines for books I’ve sold but haven’t written yet, I can’t afford writer’s block. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen.
- Ignore every piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard (even this one)
I’ve spent way too much time second-guessing myself over writing advice. If something makes sense to you, and works for you, absolutely use it. But don’t be a slave to other people’s advice. Use what works, and discard the rest.
- Write it anyway
What got me through The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy that became my first sale—after several years of writer’s block and deep depression—were three little words: Write it anyway. Write bad fiction. Yes, really.
Those words can be hard to follow, but I’ve found they almost always work, even when I don’t believe they’re working. In essence, “write it anyway” means that you write even if you think every word out of your figurative or literal pen is utter crap. Give yourself a daily goal and strive to meet it, regardless of how bad the words seem. Then look at them again the following day and decide whether you want to keep them.
Sometimes, you’ll read it later and discover you were right: it was crap. Other times, and more often than you think, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how not crappy it turns out. But either way, you’re writing, and eventually, even writing crap will spark your writer brain, and the muse will begin speaking to you again. When you’re slogging through, writing when you don’t want to, and, yes, even writing crap, you’re stimulating that little place in your brain where the stories live.
- Don’t edit while you write (but do)
As mentioned above, I don’t follow most advice about writing. Except when I do. “They” say never edit while you write. For those of us who are compulsive editors, this can stop us right in our tracks. Don’t edit? But I’ve been deliberately writing crap!
The compromise I’ve made between my perfectionist self and the very reasonable advice not to edit, is that I allow myself a certain degree of editing for each day’s words. When I sit down to write, I read through my previous day’s output, and allow myself to change anything that doesn’t work, or, if it’s really bad, delete it and put it in the Darlings document (I never delete anything permanently; I “kill my darlings” but I keep them around just in case I might want to revive them later). If it’s not great, but it isn’t complete crap, I let it stand, other than minor cosmetic edits. Then I move on to write that day’s words. If I exceed my word count for the day, I earn the right to give it another go, reading through that day’s work before moving on to more words.
- Don’t edit while you write (this time, I mean it)
Another key to getting a draft finished is, simply put, finishing the darn thing. Even if it’s crap. (Yes, this is more “write it anyway” I’ve snuck in here.)
No matter how unhappy I am with my work, I never let myself scrap the whole thing and start over, or even go back into previous days’ work and try to make it better once I’ve had my chance to do cosmetic edits. If there’s a scene I want to make drastic changes to or a scene I want to add, I leave myself a comment about what I want to write there when I get through the entire manuscript. And I continue writing as if the words preceding what I’m writing now came out the way I wanted them to.
- When all else fails, drown the dragon
This one might seem like strange advice. And I don’t necessarily mean it literally. But I kind of do. When I’m absolutely stuck, my characters won’t speak to me, and I have no idea what’s supposed to happen next, I take a shower. Something about the white noise of the water spraying over my head and the relaxation lets me stop trying to force the story and just sort of daydream about it and let it flow. If I have a particularly difficult plot problem, I talk through it aloud.
The Shower Muse never lets me down. Yours might be a Bath Muse, or a Gardening Muse, or a Walking Muse, or a Driving Muse. Whatever it takes to get you out of your own head so you can listen. But find it when you need it, and let it do the talking.
If all of this sounds like crap? See Rule Number 1. This is what I’ve found works for me. Something completely different might work for you. And that’s perfectly okay. But if you find yourself facing the Writer’s Block Dragon, don’t let someone else who doesn’t see dragons tell you it isn’t real. Just find a way to slay it.
More About the Author
Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, the Demons of Elysium series, and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.
Jane’s latest dragon-slaying effort is Master of the Game, the third book in the Demons of Elysium series.
Love is the ultimate game changer…and this time it’s winner take all.
Now that his lover is back in his arms, Belphagor is taking his own sweet time to say the words Vasily longs to hear: “You’re my boy.” And savoring the sweet torture of driving the firespirit into a frenzy of unfulfilled need.
As the undisputed master of Heaven’s gaming tables, Belphagor never plays unless he’s certain of winning. But this time, political machinations send the game—and Vasily—tumbling to the brink of even his formidable control.
Vasily can’t deny enjoying their delightfully edgy play—until the airspirit auctions him off for a night to the one demon with a gift for taking things too far. Seductive Silk, tight-lipped about the end of his relationship with the sweet submissive Phaleg, may also be involved with a new faction threatening the pregnant queen of Heaven.
Belphagor couldn’t be less interested in the games angels play, but when angelic and demonic intrigues overlap, he’s drawn in against his will. And forced to break his one inviolable rule: Never gamble what you can’t afford to lose.
Warning: Contains more than a mouthful of m/m ménage, with intense D/s situations featuring intricate rope work, balaklavas, and a flurry of snow.