Monday, September 21, 2015

Guest Post: Writers Block and Self Doubt by Theresa Kay, FRACTURED SUNS


For me, the most discouraging part of the writing process is self-doubt, something that goes hand in hand with every writer's foe-- writer's block. I struggled with both when I was writing Broken Skies, and there were two things that got me through it: the support of my amazing writer friends and giving myself permission to write garbage.  
I had no problem cranking out the first draft of Broken Skies. I wrote it during a session of Camp NaNoWriMo (the summer extension of the regular November challenge to write 50k words in thirty days). It was my fourth time doing a NaNo challenge, so I knew it didn't have to be pretty. For the most part, I did fine with meeting my daily word counts and rarely got too far behind. So, at the end of the month, I had a book. Well...sort of.
Broken Skies as it is now is very different from what I had on July 1, 2013. There were very few things I liked about my first draft, but there were some. I had the bones of the story and characters who wanted to talk, so I decided to rip it apart and rewrite it.
I got about two chapters into the rewrite when I hit my first wall. That sneaky little voice in my head (the one I'd managed to block out when all I had to concentrate on was word count) spoke up and said my writing wasn't good enough, my story wasn't good enough, and I might as well give up.
I listened. I closed the file I was working in and didn't open it again for almost two months.
Thankfully, the main character, Jax, is a stubborn one and she refused to shut up until I got back to work. This time, I made it to about the halfway point before the doubt crept in again and laid down another roadblock for me.
It was the same old chorus of 'not good enough' but this one hit me much harder. Already frustrated because I was having trouble fitting the pieces of the story back together, I just wanted to wipe my hands of the whole thing. But my crit partner talked me down and rescued Broken Skies from the recycling bin. Soon after that, I joined a writing group that went on to become The Rebel Writers.
The rewrite was coming along nicely. There were still places where I stumbled, but the support system I had in place was invaluable.
And then along came writer's block. I was confident enough with the story and my writing, but only four or five thousand words from the end I became completely stuck. I knew what needed to happen, but I just couldn't get there. Nothing was right. Nothing was good enough. I'd write a few sentences and then immediately delete them.
Writer's block is a vicious self-feeding monster. The more blocked I was, the more stressed I got. The more stressed I got, the less I wrote. The less I wrote, the more guilty I felt. The more guilty I felt, the more stressed I got...and so on.
It was awful.
And this time I had no idea what to do about it.
I went back and forth for about a week. A sentence here. A paragraph there. But no real progress. Then, I came across an article posted by Rachel Higginson on her Facebook page.
I won't repeat the entire article, but the premise was just writing and giving yourself permission for it to be garbage. It's one of the main tenets of NaNoWriMo too, but I'd never heard it worded in that way and it was just the shift in mindset I needed.
So I did it. I gave myself to write whatever came to mind even if it was awful. I started about an hour after I finished reading the article and banged out the last four thousand or so words of Broken Skies over the course of a couple hours.
It wasn't perfect, but I had something I could work with. There were still two months of read-throughs and revisions ahead of me, but it was still an amazing feeling.
I still struggle with both self-doubt and writer's block, but I know I can get past them with the support of my writer friends and by learning to let go of perfection and just get the words down on paper.


Book & Author Details:
Fractured Suns by Theresa Kay
(Broken Skies #2)
Publication date: September 18th 2015
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult

Synopsis:
We came in peace. Lie.
We had no role in the Collapse. Lie.
I have always been honest. Lie.
I never lied to her. Truth.
Reunited with her brother, and surrounded by Flint, Peter and her new-found grandfather, Jax Mitchell has still never felt more alone. The choice to follow Rym back to the city to find answers and see Lir is an easy one, but their reunion is cut short and Jax is forced to leave Lir behind. She finds herself traveling with some unexpected companions and heading back toward a place she’d hoped to never see again.
After being imprisoned—and tortured—on the orders of his uncle, Lir hasn’t seen daylight or linked to anyone in weeks. After a lifetime of connection, the pain and loneliness is almost too much to bear. Elated that Jax actually came, Lir finds renewed hope and strength to continue fighting his uncle’s influence over the E’rikon, even when things look hopeless and Lir’s been branded a traitor by the very people he’s trying to save.

While Jax and Lir fight separate battles, their missions have more in common than they realize. It’s a race against time to stop men driven only by greed and power. But the people they trust the most might be the very people working against them—and “family” doesn’t mean what it used to. Will they recognize their friends from their enemies in time to save the people they love or will they lose each other in the process?


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AUTHOR BIO:
The only person she knows who had a subscription to Writer's Digest at eleven and was always excited to write research papers, Theresa has been putting words to paper since a young age. Living in the mountains of central Virginia with her husband and two kids, she works as a paralegal by day, binges on Netflix at night and finds bits of time in between reading almost everything she can get her hands on and laundry to craft stories that tend to feature broken characters in sci-fi or paranormal worlds, with a touch of romance thrown in for good measure.

She's constantly lost in one fictional universe or another and is a self-proclaimed "fangirl" who loves being sucked in to new books or TV shows. Theresa originally wanted to write horror novels as an ode to her childhood passion for Stephen King novels, but between her internal Muse's ramblings and the constant praise for her sci-fi pieces from her writer's group - The Rebel Writers - she knew she should stick with what was working.

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