Cracking the Block by Kaylin McFarren

Cracking the Block by Kaylin McFarrenAbout a month ago, I found myself rewriting the same chapter over and over again – actually editing my editing. I was stuck, going nowhere, wedged into the corner of a mindless cube with no exit door in sight. Out of curiosity, I investigated and discovered that some pretty well-known authors have suffered from this same affliction: George Gissing, Samuel Coleridge, Joseph Mitchell, even F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I calculated that it took thirty years for Harold Brodkey to publish The Runaway Soul, I realized that I needed to find a solution, and fast. Now these suggestions may not be your answer, but after undergoing self-induced therapy for one week, I managed to lose my block before I completely cracked.

Rage. If you’re deleting chapters or filling trash baskets, screaming and stomping won’t get you anywhere – although it helps to clear the cob webs and release pent up frustrations. Just don’t make this a habit or you might find yourself residing in a padded cell.

Inspiration. The spark of genius might be flittering about just beyond your reach. Go for walks, see a movie, read books. Sit in the park with your eyes closed, listening to the world around you. But should you chose to do this, don’t ignore the flashers, pickpockets, and hookers milling around or the police officers who might ask you to move along.

Escape. If you can’t find something to inspire you, calm your frustrations with a distraction – whether it be lunch with friends, a weekend getaway or an around the world trip. But wherever you end up, don’t forget to bring home something other than leftovers and laundry to help rekindle your thoughts.

Re-engage. Reread what you’ve already written, the notes you compiled, the outline you struggled to complete. Become reacquainted with your characters and rescue them from a fate worse than avoidance.

Purpose. Remember what drove you to write this story in the first place. However, if you were purely financially motivated, hopefully you have someone very patient in your life that’s helping to pay the bills. 😀

Linda Yoshida, aka Kaylin McFarren, is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in California, relocated with her family to Washington, and nested with her husband in Oregon. In addition to playing an active role in his business endeavors, she has been involved in all aspects of their three daughters’ lives – taxi duties,
cheerleading coaching, script rehearsals, and relationship counseling, to name but a few. Now she enjoys spending undisciplined time with her two young grandsons and hopes to have many more.

Although Kaylin wasn’t born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.

Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

You can visit Kaylin online at www.kaylinmcfarren.com or visit her book’s website at www.flahertyscrossing.com.

21 Responses to Cracking the Block by Kaylin McFarren

  1. susan leech

    What wonderful helpful tips you just shared. I am sure you have helped more people then you realize. I am not a writer but I did enjoy your article and they all makes sense. A few could be used in case some one has reader’s block as well. Susan L.

  2. Lindy

    I’m going to send a link to a friend of mine who’s an aspiring writer!

    ~Lindy

  3. Karen H in NC

    I’m not a writer but I just had a thought about what you wrote here. Does an author keep the deleted scenes, chapters, etc in a seperate file just in case it turns out those deleted items work after all?

  4. Kaylin McFarren

    Thanks Susan and Lindy. Just having a little fun here… but the point I was hoping to make is to simply have faith in your capabilities and do whatever it takes to prevent anxieties from taking the enjoyment out of writing. 🙂

  5. Kaylin McFarren

    Hi Karen. Most definitely hang onto those unused or deleted scenes! More than once I’ve found myself circling back around and using dialogue, scenes and situations that I initially rejected.

  6. Tami

    I have edited a chapter right out of being good! I tend to overthink things 1,000 times, and then end up ruining it. You are right about walking away and getting a fresher perspective. 🙂

    Tami

  7. Michael Davis

    Never hit the “what do I write” roadblock, but I suffered from the “infinite revision” problem. Each time I sat a draft aside, then came back, I always found ways to improve and refine every page. Problem was after 30 revisions, I learned you have to draw a line and say, “you have twikked it enough. Didn’t do that the first three novels, but I limit myself some the book does not take ten years to finish.

    Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
    Author of the year, 4/09

  8. Kaylin McFarren

    Great comments, Tami and Michael. 🙂 Agree…there’s nothing more time-consuming for an author than over tweaking. Just like creating a painting, you have to be able to stand back at some point and say, “I can live with that.”

  9. Angelica Hart and Zi

    Until I collaborated with Zi, I was the tweakin’ queen. I would rewrite until I forgot what I was writing. Zi now gives me that ’nuff look.

    As for writer’s block, it’s never a problem when you have a literary partner. Actually, our problem is too many ideas.

    Great article.

  10. Kaylin McFarren

    Ha! Know what you mean, Ang & Zi. There’s days when I think I left the motor running on my brain. How great to have a partner you can bounce ideas off of and to keep you on track. 🙂

  11. Amy S.

    Great tips!

  12. Kaylin McFarren

    Thanks, Amy!

  13. Victoria Roder

    Hi Kaylin,
    I enjoyed the good advice. A motorcycle ride clears my head and helps me work out a scene.

  14. Kaylin McFarren

    Oooo…I like the way you think, Victoria. Pull up to my back door and I’ll hop on with you. 😛

  15. Susan

    Wonderful insight Kaylin 🙂 I have to admit, it helps me to go back a few pages and literally take another run at it. One thing I’d like to try is exercise for thirty-five minutes (seems like a good amount of time 🙂 ), then come back and see if the roadblock breaks loose. If all else fails a panicked call to my buddies is not out of the question 😀

  16. Kaylin McFarren

    Haven’t thought of the quick call to buddies. That’s a good one, Susan. I’m adding that one to my list.

  17. Carol L.

    Your post is full of amazing tips for Authors. Thanks for sharing.
    Carol L.
    Lucky4750@aol.com

  18. Eva S

    Thanks for the great post! I’m not a writer, but your advices are very useful in many situations.

  19. Kaylin McFarren

    Carol and Eva, thanks for visiting today and for leaving positive comments. 🙂

  20. Cherie J

    Sounds like some sound advice. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Kaylin McFarren

    And thanks for stopping by, Cherie!

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