Sunday, 31 March 2013

Writer's Block

No, Joey, you can not just finish the story with "rocks fall, everyone dies" because you're blocked. It happens to us all. Every writer there is will tell you that at times, they get blocked. I recently found a great T-shirt that I plan to cycle into my "work" clothes that said; "Writer's Block - when your imaginary friends stop talking to you" and I don't think I can put it any better.

I know that some days I will get up and I know exactly what I want to do and how I'm going to do it. If I don't get distracted (see this post) then it's entirely possible that the words will flow from me like a leaky tap and the only thing that will stop me is the need to eat, sleep and take care of other matters. Even then, I have been known to eat while I work and forgo sleep because the inspiration is a plenty! I wrote my second book BLACKOUT just like that. It originally had ten very long chapters and it took me ten days to write. Yes, it took longer to edit and then get published, but I didn't suffer from writer's block then. I knew the story, I knew the characters and the inspiration kept whispering in my ear.

Unfortunately, inspiration is a fickle creature and sometimes I do wonder if it just plan ole hates me. I am a planner when it comes to my writing. I have chapter notes. I have character notes. I have a plan of every chapter and how I want it to go. However, it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes Tara will decide that no, she does not want to do that and I can piss off if I think I'm going to make her. Or Kaolin will be extra geeky and decide that it's just not her. Sure, my other characters all do similar things but to avoid spoilers I'll stick to the series ones.

So, we all know my routine, I'll sit at my desk on a random day that I haven't been distracted by shiny gifs on Tumblr and I'll tell myself I'm going to write. And I don't. Now, it's not being distracted that does it. It's just plain old being BLOCKED! I don't really know how to describe it to someone who hasn't experienced it (and I'm sure the majority of you have, as either writer's or some other creative outlet.) If I was pushed, I would say if feels like the moment my fingers touch the keys, my brain suddenly pulls the plug on the inspiration bath and it all goes down the drain before I can stop it.

I know a lot of writers who will suffer with it for days, weeks, even months sometimes - and I count myself in with those - and then suddenly...BAM! The inspiration bath is all filled up and ready to go and we're writing again like there is no tomorrow. The problem is that although there are great websites that tells us to do this or that to get unblocked - here's one & here's another - sometimes you have tried all the tricks and there is just no overcoming it. People tell you to write something, ANYTHING to try and get through the block and to be honest that's one of the reasons I've been writing these pieces to help me through my own block.

Still, as a writer it is something you have to deal with. Hell, as anyone who does something creative - artist, dancer, photographer etc. - it's something you have to deal with. So, how do you move forward? To be honest, a number of things have worked for me. Here's a list of some of them:

1. Writing anything you like - no need for a subject, no need for a filter. Just write whatever is on your mind. I do this with posts like this, I also have a LJ and Tumblr for when I just want to write and it not matter so much.

2. Reading works you enjoy - I'm not suggesting that you read a book and use the plot device they have used, but sometimes for me reading a book I enjoy by an author I love can help me. It can show me that I'm not alone in the fact that I'm stuck. EVERYONE gets stuck sometimes.

3. Resist the urge to delete & totally rewrite - I've done this sometimes and let me tell you, it can work, but I find the majority of the time I totally start a chapter from scratch, I end up in the same place. And it's not always a better chapter either. You need to judge whether you're blocked because it happens or if you have blocked yourself into a corner. If that's the case then sometimes you need to do a little extra research or if need be, rewrite. BUT be sure you know where you're going. Keep a back up of the original piece in case you decide you hate the new one.

4. Step away for a while- I know that makes it sound like a new way of distracting yourself, but sometimes stepping away helps deal with the frustration of it all. I know that I have taken a step back and then gone back and I can end the chapter and eventually the book. I even once put the book off my in progress pile and went back to it years later. It's now one of my published works and I feel it's better for it.

5. Talk it through with someone
- I am lucky that the majority of my close friends have read enough of my books that when I sit there and say "HELP!" they are willing to talk it through with me. Many a chapter has been finished due to this.

So, those are the tricks I employ. They may work for you, they may not. The big thing here is that you won't be blocked forever. You won't be unable to ever find a way out. It's in you somewhere and you just have to have the patience and foresight to tease it out gently. Or with pliers if it really won't come out, but I recommend you asking someone else to do that for you.

Most of all though, you should enjoy what you do. Writer's block is a hazard of the profession, we all get it, we all hate it. Don't give up on something you love just because you can't finish it right now. Take a breather and remember that it's within you somewhere to finish this chapter.

Good luck and remember no chapter should end with "rocks fall, everyone dies" - unless there has just been a rock slide or something in which case, go for it!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Distracti...oooh! Shiny things!

I'm going to write, I tell myself, I am NOT going to be distracted and I'm going to use the time while my carer and her daughter are out of the house to write. Then something shiny comes along and my attention is elsewhere. I'm sure a lot of you have experienced something similar. I know that I have my priorities in life, as most people do. As far as work goes, my priorities are something like this:

1. Uni work - it has to come first because otherwise I won't get my degree and it'll have all been a waste. I generally don't have difficulty sticking to this priority because there are deadlines and such that I *have* to stick to or else I'll fall behind. The added bonus of having a good work ethic in that regards is that I don't generally fall behind unless something pushes me. For example, ill health pushes me behind, which I'm sure you'll all agree is a valid reason.

2. Book work
- I ranked this as number two because it does have it's own deadlines, but they are more fluid and flexible than the deadlines associated with number one on the list.

3. Hobbies (i.e Ukulele & Crafts) - I'm sure you're all aware that I do play the Ukulele and I also do cross-stitching in my "spare" time. Again, ranked lower because although there are some deadlines, they are usually set by myself and not some anonymous person who will get mad if they are not finished.

That's my working deadline list. Now things don't always go to plan. I have a weekly schedule that I try to stick to throughout the week, but things like getting sick or Miss D not being at school changes that schedule. For the past couple of months, since I have been unable to drive, my schedule has gone out of the window. Normally, I would dedicate Monday and Tuesdays to my uni work and for the most part that is still the case. I do half the work on Monday and the rest on Tuesday and that works for me. I'm usually done with uni work by the afternoon and depending on how I am feeling depends on how I spend that time.

Now I know you're all thinking that it gives me a lot of time to write and how come I haven't finished my two works in progress yet. If life were simple and things always went to plan that would be a good would also mean a boring life, but that's not the point. Say that I write off the Monday and Tuesday afternoons, class them as free time. That means I would be free to jam on my Ukulele or stitch to my heart's content. I have other hobbies sure, but those two are the main ones. It doesn't work like that. Usually on a Wednesday I'll sleep late. I've been doing that for a number of years since I got sick and it's classed as my "day off".

So, it's a day off and I don't have to write, correct? I mean, I'd still have Thursday and Friday to do some writing and I could use the middle of the week to do something that isn't considered work. It's usually what I do. I'll either put a show on and stitch or I'll try and hammer out some videos or tunes on my Uke. So, we're onto the last two days of the working week. Thursday and Friday - what do I do on those days? Normally, I'll get up on a Thursday and I'll tell myself; "Joey, you HAVE to write a chapter today!" Normally, I aim to
get four chapters written each week, two of each book. However, since I had the relapse, I've been letting myself get away with two chapters a week. I know what you're thinking, a chapter on Thursday and a chapter on Friday. Easy! What am I complaining about? 

I hate to break your bubble, but as many writer's will attest to, it's not that easy. Plus I'm not complaining. I'm simply saying that despite giving myself that pep talk every Thursday and Friday, it sometimes doesn't work. I feel guilty doing other things. I get distracted by something online, something on Facebook that I must share with the world. A funny GIF on Tumblr. A friend wanting to talk on the phone. It may not be true for everyone, but it doesn't take much to get me off the writing path.

However, it's not all shiny things and bad news, sticking to my schedule sometimes helps me to hash out the chapters I'm working on. They mean that sometimes, on one of my non writing days, I'll open the Word document and BAM! Two chapters and I'm still going. It just doesn't always happen like that. Even when you discount the editing process and all the other things that go along with preparing a book for publishing. You still have to take into account the distractions along the writer's path.

If it were only as simple as to open a document and type, well then there would be a lot more books in the world. Every writer, at some point in their career, will get distracted. Sometimes it's with these kinds of posts where we wish to share our experiences with others. Sometimes it's with something out of our own control like family issues. And sometimes it's just with something that makes us laugh on the internet. Be patient with us, and if you're a writer, be patient with yourself - it'll come better when you don't force it.

Now, I'm going to go and write Chapter Forty-Thr...ooh! Shiny new GIFS!

Friday, 29 March 2013

How's the writing going, Joey

That's a question that gets asked a lot, people want to know where I am on my books. They want to know how I'm doing with my word count and if I'm ever any nearer to finishing them. Those that know me, or follow my blog or Facebook page know that a lot of what I do comes in fits and starts. I know it's been mentioned on this blog before that I am disabled - it is in fact on the side bar under "About Joey Paul" - so that, of course, has some impact on the amount of work I am able to do on any given day.

The past few months I have been suffering with a relapse from M.E, which is a condition I, along with many other people, have. It has impacted my day to day life and in turn has impacted the amount of time and energy I am able to put into completing my books. I've been a writer since I was young, but only really considered it as a career once I had no other choice. Don't get me wrong, I love to write. I love making characters and I love giving them a voice and telling their story. But, looking back at my life and the choices I have had to make, I do wonder if things would have gone differently if I hadn't gotten sick when I did or if I hadn't been forced into medical retirement at the age of nineteen.

I would probably still be in that same job - let's for argument sake say that because I loved it at nineteen, nothing had changed - and I probably wouldn't be writing. I started my first "book" at the age of thirteen and my friends who read the original still laugh at how unbelievable *bad* it was. Hell, *I* still laugh at it! (As well as cringe inwardly!) When I was first diagnosed and my life had settled into the pattern that comes with being chronically ill, retired and, well, bored, I picked up that first book and I took it to pieces. I mean, I took every line, every sentence, the whole plot and changed everything I could. It came out with a similar story, but the plot was different, the characters were not the same and the whole thing was just BETTER! Now, I wouldn't call it my strongest book, but it is still on my list of released books because doing that, picking it apart and making it better - that's what made me begin my career as a writer. It's what showed me that I could do this and that all the story lines in my head could become actual books. I've never really looked back from that moment.

So now I ask myself, had I not had that moment of boredom and clarity, would I even be writing today or would I have just started watching day time TV and bored myself to death? The answer, I don't know. I like to think that writing was the career I was meant to take. I like to think that everything happens for a reason (though not always good ones) and I would like to think that in that moment, when I was told I could no longer work a "normal" job and I turned to writing, that I answered my true calling. Yet, I am no different from the thousands of writers out there (though it's probably closer to millions) in that I do suffer from writers block. I have it right now, which is one of the reasons I am writing this piece. It was at the forefront of my mind and although I know what I want to happen in chapter Forty-Three of <i>Destination: Unknown</i> (that's book nine for those not in the know.) I just can't seem to get my fingers to type what my brain pictures. Writers block is a devil on my shoulder telling me that I'll do it tomorrow...or next week...or next month - you get the picture. I keep putting it off because I think "It's not like I *need* to finish it now!" and I don't. Book nine is not due out for another couple of years, and I could just leave it unfinished. What's the harm in that?

Well, a friend of mine linked me to a blog post telling writers everything "25 things to make [them] a better writer" and I read it. Number 25 was "FINISH YOUR SHIT" - exact quote there laides and gentlemen. So, I could put it off for another week, after all, as I always tell myself, uni work comes first. Therein lies the problem. I don't have any uni work due until the week after Easter so I need to get on with it. The other problem is that if I don't write it down now, the real definition of writers block may come along and steal my ideas from my brain. It happens all the time. I'm lying in bed, and I have this great idea for my next book. I tell myself not to worry about writing it down just then because I'll remember it. Do you know what happens? I forget the whole thing by morning. It happens all the time and I never seem to remember that I've forgotten in the past and should just get my lazy butt outta bed and write it down. Things to learn I guess.

So, the whole point of this is when asked "How's the writing going, Joey?" I never really know what to say. Sometimes it flows, sometimes I literally can not type fast enough to keep up with myself. However, sometimes you get stuck when you can't think of the words to describe the scenes in your head. Other times, the words don't come no matter how desperate and ready you are to write them. And other times, the ideas are stolen by the Sandman while you sleep.

How's the writing going? Well, I'm still plugging away and I won't stop until I finish, but it's a long process and a painful one at that (sometimes). So when you ask someone how the writing is going, refer back here as to why they may have a pained look on their face. Writing is an art in itself, and like all art - good and bad - it takes time. It takes a piece of the artist with it and sometimes we don't always get that piece back. Still, it's a career I love and wouldn't change for the world. I'm not in this for the money, I'm in it for the joy of bringing characters to life and being able to create whole worlds with my words. That, dear readers, is worth everything in the world.

- Remember you can follow Joey on this blog or on her Facebook Page to be up to date with all news concerning Joey Paul and her books!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Joey's Creative Characters Answer Questions

Here's something fun for you all. In the past, I have written conversations between all her characters and to bring a little cheer and an idea of what my characters think, here's a new conversation between the majority of them.

Tally - Blackout
Lisa - Blackout
Tara - Dying Thoughts Series
Kaolin - Dying Thoughts Series
Chloe - The Friendship Triangle
Charlotte - The Friendship Triangle
Lynne - Lynne & Hope
Hope - Lynne & Hope
Zack - Waiting On You - Not yet released
Angelina - Waiting On You - Not yet released
Harriet - Destination: Unknown - Book in progress
Dot - Destination: Unknown - Book in progress

1. How old are you all?
Tally: 15, but by now I'd be in my twenties if book characters aged
Lisa: 15, but I agree with Tally, we don't age
Tara: 16 - I get to age but not as quickly as I'd like!
Kaolin: 16, I also get to age, but I'm not as unhappy about the time it takes as Tara
Chloe: 13, forever 13!
Charlotte: Same as Chloe
Lynne: 25, but at least I'll keep my good looks
Hope: *snorts with laughter* Good looks? Oh right, question, I'm 15
Zack: 16
Angelina: 15, but I'm a mature fifteen
Harriet: 15, but I'd only be a little older if I could age
Dot: 15, and I would be aged by now, I'd be dead!

2. When was your story written?
Chloe: It was started in 1995...
Charlotte: But it wasn't done until 2001!
Tally: 2001 possibly
Lisa: Yeah, she wrote it quick so it would have been 2001
Tara: It started in 2002 or 2003 and she hasn't finished it yet
Kaolin: I wonder if it will EVER be finished!
Lynne: Well, it started out that I was a ghost haunting Hope and that was in 2002 or 2003 and then she changed it to us being sisters, I'm not sure which one I prefer to be honest.
Hope: I think I prefer it when you're haunting me, then at least you'd go away! *Lynne flicks Hope's ear* Ow! Anyway, she finished the story in 2005
Zack: I think it was 2008 it was started
Angelina: Yup and finished in 2010
Harriet: It was started in 2010 but it's still not finished yet, it's almost there, but not just yet!
Dot: Harriet is right, though technically the story started in 1910

3. What's your story about?
Tara: My gift of solving murders and seeing people die
Kaolin: That sounds like you hang out in all the wrong places. See, Tara has this gift...
Tara: Don't give away my secret, you know how my dad feels about that!!
Lynne: It's about my annoying sister and how she got me accused of a crime I didn't commit
Hope: Actually it's about how I saved my sister from jail!
Chloe: Friendship and magic
Charlotte: And a monkey for some reason!
Harriet: Murder and time travel
Dot: I still don't quite believe that you're not an apparition from God you know...
Zack: Online stuff and being careful who you speak to
Angelina: True love, hampered by tragedy
Tally: Drugs, coma, murder attempts. It's a real page turner
Lisa: Yeah, and it also raises awareness for a rare condition
Harriet: Oh mine does that too!

4. Any plot points that you hated?
Harriet: The fact that my mum was so sick. I mean, I know it raises awareness, but it still sucked!
Dot: My family falling apart, that seemed very unfair
Lynne: Being accused of murder and having to go on the run
Hope: Being Lynne's sister
Tara: Having my gift, but I guess if you take that away it doesn't have much of a story
Kaolin: Nope, Tara, if they took that away it would just be you bitching and whining and no one wants to read that
Tara: Hey, you're supposed to be my best friend!!
Kaolin: I only speak the truth
Zack: Being arrested
Angelina: My whole family, can we erase that part? The rest is perfect!
Chloe: My dad being dead, that sucked
Charlotte: My messed up family situation, but I guess it was all for the plot...oh and that damned monkey!
Chloe: It's a primate actually...
Charlotte: *pokes her tongue out at Chloe*

5. Do you like your stories?
Angelina: YES! I find love, and Zack is perfect!
Zack: Well, it's doesn't actually...
Angelina: SPOILERS!
Harriet: I don't know, it's not finished yet
Dot: I can not comment, I don't know the ending
Lynne: Apart from having to bond with dear sister of mine, then I guess it's okay
Hope: I still wish it coulda been the ghost one where I got rid of her at the end!
Tara: Which one? Some I like, some I wish hadn't happened.
Kaolin: I'm with Tara, some are great, well not great, they involve murder, but y'know what I mean
Tally: I liked it when it ended
Lisa: Sometimes, it sucked in parts for me
Lynne: I feel your pain, Lisa!

6. Lastly, are you all on Facebook? Twitter? Tumblr?
Lynne: Face what?
Hope: I don't think that existed back then
Harriet: Both Facebook and Twitter, not tried Tumblr
Dot: I have books of faces of my family if that's what you mean, photographs and such
Chloe: Huh?
Charlotte: Why doesn't Tumblr have an e in it?
Angelina: No, until my story was written I didn't have the internet
Dot: The internet? Is that like DNA? Whatever that is, Harriet never did explain all of that
Tally: No idea
Lisa: I'm with Tally on this one, what is it?
Tara: Nope
Kaolin: Never heard of it
Zack: Yeah, but I don't use it that much
Harriet: Duh, guys! It's Facebook, y'know? Social Media online
*Lynne, Dot, Chloe, Charlotte, Tally, Lisa, Tara & Kaolin all look blankly at Harriet*
Harriet: Help me out here, Zack.
Zack: It's this thing where you have a page and people can friend you
Angelina: Like LJ, but newer
Harriet: Yup! Exactly.
*They still all look blank*
Harriet: *deep sigh* I give up!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Spring Sale - STARTING NOW!

 To start off spring, both BLACKOUT and DYING THOUGHTS - FIRST TOUCH will have 55% OFF their normal price on Smashwords. To buy a reduced copy of BLACKOUT, you will need to enter the coupon code WA28N at the checkout. To buy a reduced copy of DYING THOUGHTS - FIRST TOUCH, you will need to enter the coupon code CQ98U at the checkout. These coupons are only valid until 18th APRIL 2013 and only apply to purchases made through the Smashwords website. Smashwords provides most formats of ebook, including Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBookstore.

The Spring Sale is also happening on Amazon Kindle. You can get your FREE copy of LYNNE & HOPE for FIVE days starting tomorrow - March 19th 2013. This promotion will run until March 23rd 2013. You can grab a copy from Amazon UK, USA, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, India & Japan!

Take advantage of this great Spring Sale and grab three of Joey's books for less than normal price! To get up to date information about Joey Paul, remember to follow this blog and her Facebook Page.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Update on Release Date

Due to ongoing health issues and a delay in the editing process, "Dying Thoughts - Third Wish" will now be released in early July 2013. Joey apologises for the delay, but her health must come first and hopefully the book will be ready for release in July and there will be no more delays.

Keep following this blog and Joey's Facebook Page for more updates.