Neil Gaiman demystifies writer’s block

Who hasn’t been there? The blank page. The blinking cursor. The author’s horrifically empty torture chamber: writer’s block.

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman  in a snuggly sweater

Well, according to Neil Gaiman, best-selling author of the Sandman comic book series, Coraline and many more super-imaginative works of fiction, writer’s block is just as much a fiction as anything else that pours out of an author’s mind. In this fascinating interview on the Goodreads website, he talks about how his ambition as a writer has evolved over the years and offers these pearls of wisdom about the dreaded you-know-what (shhhh… don’t say it out loud or it might come true!):

Writer’s block is this thing that is sent from the gods—you’ve offended them. You’ve trod on a crack on the pavement, and you’re through. The gods have decided. It’s not true. What is really true is you can have a bad day. You can have a bad week. You can get stuck. But what I learned when I was under deadline is that if you write on the bad days, even if you’re sure everything you’ve written is terrible, when you come to it tomorrow and you reread it, most of it’s fixable. It may not be the greatest thing you’ve ever written, but you fix it, and actually it’s a lot better than you remember it being. And the weird thing is a year later when you’re copyediting and reading the galleys through for the first time in months, you can remember that some of it was written on bad days. And you can remember that some of it was written on terrific days. But it all reads like you. Fantastic stuff doesn’t necessarily read better than the stuff written on the bad days. Writers have to be like sharks. We keep moving forward, or we die.

So on that note, here’s a toast to all the other authors out there: have lots of fun over the holiday season and then sit at your desk and work. Cheers!

Photo credit: Lvovsky via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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The grim reaper. No, not Death – the book editor!

Nice little post about the pain and ultimate pleasure of the editing process, written by fellow Montreal author Alice Zorn. This is something I’ll be facing very shortly…

An environmentally conscious editor on the way to work.

An environmentally conscious editor on the way to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Bill Gracey / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Slaves to the readers?

Interesting article in today’s Guardian about the Writer’s Manifesto to be presented tonight at the Manchester Literature Festival by Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat, among other works.

“She’s putting forward a really interesting question about boundaries,” said Writers’ Centre Norwich chief executive Chris Gribble, “and about what we expect of writers … and what the limits are of being a reader.”

What are your thoughts on this? Are the boundaries between authors and readers becoming unhealthily fuzzy?

Ten tips on writing

I just found this great list of writing tips while doing some publishing research while taking a break from writing the final book in the Embodied trilogy while drinking Guinness from time to time. Jandy Nelson, author of YA novels I’ll Give You the Sun and The Sky is Everywhere, just about nails it.

Jandy Nelson’s list of must-do’s for authors

If your writing implement looks like this, you haven't applied the ten tips properly.

If your writing implement looks like this, you haven’t applied the ten tips properly.

Photo credit: zen / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

 

How the mind creates when you’re doing other things

As I’ve mentioned somewhere on this blog before, the name of my last book came to me in a dream. This quick read in this week’s Guardian explores the creative differences between writers who pre-plan their books (such as Michelle Paver) and those who wing it (such as John Boyne). It turns out that no matter which method you choose, your mind is working away in the background like a helpful little pixie. Or maybe like a beaver. Or a colony of termites. Anyway, the bottom line is, when you create, you aren’t really aware of everything that’s going on in your brain. And I like that.

Your brain on termites.

Your brain on termites.

Photo credit: Gnilenkov Aleksey / Foter / CC BY