Tag Archives: writer’s block

Live Bat in Your House Kind of Day

Ever have a really bad day and think it just can’t get worse than this? I had that week. Suckish paycheck. Two week headache with sinus pressure. Sick kid. I start feeling sick. Writer’s block on top of editing. All thrown into one big giant migraine salad sprinkled with a cancelled trip to Tampa.

Could it get worse? I heard meowing at my room door. Not the typical, “hey let me in, I need to be scratched,” meow (yes, I know the various meows). This was the one, “Hey, let me in because I have a surprise for you,” meow. This could be good or bad. I take that back, it could be mediocre or, “Hey, look momma–I caught a live bat and let it loose in your house,” kind of bad.

I ignored the first meows and realized she had gone away. Five minutes later she was at my door with the same noise. Realizing there could be a shrine of carcasses at my door, piling up, I decide to go see the fuss. Could it get worse? At the door, looking rather curious and harmless, was my cat with her tauntings: a pencil and a guitar tuner.

I have writer’s block and my cat wants to write music. Figures! Well, when life gives you lemons, you get your musically inclined cat and start a band called Kitty and the Lemonade Stand. Could it get any worse? It could, but after writing our hit single The Dog Ate my Cat Food, I felt surprisingly better. Time to get writing.

guitar cat
Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Singing Backup

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Self-published Rut

Here it is , the rut. I heard so much about this rut, this madness of feeling stagnant and otherwise without direction.  Is it a rough patch? Perhaps writer’s remorse? That drudged old nemesis that is my brain saying, “You only had one good story didn’t you? Told ya!”

I wallow in the thought as I have little to no motivation to start something new.  Yes there is the project WIP that I’ve already got several chapters into, and yes the characters speak to me everyday.  But where is my motivation? Perhaps I need a muse. Perhaps I need a swift quick in the posterior.  Am I a has-been after only two books and one manual? Could it be?

I need another outlet.  I stare at the walls, into the infinite span of gray that clouds my mind and I strive to find more channels to push my story into, but it seems all avenues have been charted on my map of marketing.  Is there more? How much more time can I afford to give up into marketing for forty hours to maybe make one sale, maybe? I could’ve been writing, I say to myself, but when I’m writing I think I should be marketing and so instead I find myself working on small projects at home instead.

It occurred to me that maybe I was upset at the lack of funds to publish another book.  I’m dead set against using KDP Select as my only means to publish.  Besides, there are other costs to incur: editing, formatting, purchase of an ISBN, and the actual cost to publish.  With all that on my plate I opted to take on another job which, ironically, puts me back as a self-marketer or independent distributor for a popular body toning program (can’t mention just yet as I have not been formally approved to blog it).

Then I made another decision in my vast list of procrastination techniques: I’ll start a blog about nursing. After all, I am a nurse and it is a major part of my life. I have many stories to tell about this career aspect of my life . . . and the procrastination continues.  Did I mention my backyard is thriving with fruits and veggies? Not an easy thing to do in California’s high desert region . . . procrastination also yields fruit.

I’m at a loss. So what do you do when you feel you’ve exhausted all your resources and find yourself dead center in the middle of a rut? All suggestions and comments welcomed.

Tania L Ramos, Author, RN . . . rut!

If you’re in the middle of a rut or procrastination, enjoy this fun video of my daughter singing in the car, here.

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Writing: If it Doesn’t Hurt …

In the past year, I have met many other authors and love it.  Only an author truly knows and empathizes with another author.  In this way I can only compare it to how people suffering migraines can relate to others with migraines, but those who have never had a migraine don’t have so much as a clue.

Many of my closest friends and acquaintances are non-writers.  In fact, everybody in my family are artists, not writers, so I work through it alone.  One question I am often asked when people discover I have written books is, “Is it hard?” To answer that question isn’t easy, and I have to ask them to be more specific: the actual writing, the publishing, the thought process …

One nurse I work with asked, “how do you come up with a story?” My answer: I don’t, my characters do.

This is where writers will relate, but for those non-writers here is some insight.

voicesI hear and see everything around me.  Somethings try to materialize into stories but never do.  Other times there is constant noise in my head, like being in a crowded train station.  The noises don’t make much sense, sometimes I get to eaves drop on conversations of the noises, but they are benign and again go nowhere.  But occasionally, two voices will come to the forefront and if I listen effectively I can hear their story.

The story isn’t always the beginning or the middle, sometimes it is the end and I’m left to ask them some pertinent questions.  When they respond with answers that make me smile and get all giddy, that’s when I know I have a story.

Once I have a story a new problem emerges: getting the characters to shut up.  These voices can talk all day and well into the long hours of the night.  They talk when I walk into the bathroom at 3 a.m. They talk while I’m driving. Worse of all, they talk when I’m trying to communicate with the living.  I’m sure I’ve had a blank stare a time or two while engaged in actual real people conversation.  The voices are loud and clear.  They have personalities, dialects, catch phrases and stories, and if I don’t write them down they unleash a relentless attack and sneak into my sleep.

It isn’t always easy to write these characters.  They have attitudes sometimes and want to go in a direction different than the one I had planned out on paper.  There in lies the problem: an author can not plan a character, because the character has their own agenda.  A good author will follow the character’s agenda and sometimes doing that hurts my ego.

So much goes into writing.  It is a thought that stays with me from conception to end, and sometimes even after the book is printed, I feel like it could have been better.  There comes a point during the process when I feel like this is going nowhere and want to give-up.  There are times the characters stop talking– usually when I try and move the story along in my own direction.  But when I stop and listen and agree to their demands, the story picks up again.

My favorite part is when I finally hit that climatic point.  It’s like fireworks in the sky.  Then the downhill part comes and it feels very surreal and bitter sweet.  Some writers have lived with these characters for years, some for months, but we have  lived with them.  They are our bestfriends, and sometimes the meanest most vile characters are the ones we love the most.  When a story starts wrapping up, this means it is time to say goodbye to people who have been with us in the foxhole.

These characters have been with us through thick and thin, sickness and health, the good times and the bad.  They have cried with us and we have cried with them.  We have felt their pain, shared in their darkest secrets, and celebrated their victories.  When a story ends, so does our relationship and we must say goodbye.  Those are the quiet days, the lonely days.

The question remains: Is writing hard?

The answer: It is the hardest, most challenging, grueling, and best job I have ever had.  I love it so much that when I’m not doing it, I’m lost in limbo.  One thing I know for certain, that when I’m writing, if it doesn’t hurt and tug at my soul, then I’m doing something wrong.

Tania L Ramos

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Tania L Ramos author of  When I thought I Was Tough, Be Stilland Surviving the Writing Apocalypse.  Also runs the website Writing Apocalypse which displays quality indie books.  She speaks to other authors about the top content errors new authors make.

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Chocolate and Caffeine

     So far I have dealt with writer’s block and snot issues that have impeded my writing progression.  I know writer’s block is a huge issue amongst writers and authors.  It’s the like the plague to us.  For me, writer’s block occurs every few weeks as nothing more than a mild bump in the road that I can easily just hop over.  But then there are times when it is like hitting a huge wall and I have to do the military climb over the wall … and I don’t do obstacle courses very well.  Above all that there s one thing, one ginormous issue, that I have trouble working through on a weekly basis: Migraines!

     I have suffered from migraines since I was 12-years-old.  I will be honest, at one point in my life they were so severe and clustered that I spent 20 days out of the month dealing with them, 5 days recuperating, and another 5 days wondering when they will strike again.  It was a time in my life when suicide was a better option than living with this wretched infliction, but I never did it (or tried).  At that time I was told to stay away from caffeine and chocolate … twenty years later it is caffeine and chocolate that we are told to take.  Funny how that works.  Well, migraines stopped me from doing many things.  I once thought about enlisting in the Army when I was younger, but I knew it would be difficult with the migraines.  I thought about the Sheriffs, but drowned in the same conclusion.

     Eventually the migraines stopped, but they return for about a two-year stint then vanish just as long.  Now-a-days we have great meds like Imitrex, which cure the migraine but make me feel like I am having a stroke in exchange.  Good old-fashioned Coke and a Snickers works for me,and if that doesn’t then a massage at Ling Ling’s in the Mall of Victor Valley works, too.  Oh, fifteen minutes under the catatonic accupressure to my scalp and space between my thumb and pointer finger will make me fall to my knees, but when it’s all over and done with I am migraine free.

     The reason I bring up migraines is because it is the single best way to halt any progression of my writing.  Today, for example, I was suffering from a tension migraine which hits like a million tiny needles at the base of my skull then sends it soldiers of pain into my shoulders and neck.  It sucks.  But worse than all that I find I can not write.  It is a total vacuuming experience where it sucks my will to even think about writing.  And if I do push past the urge to sleep all day then the photophobia (sensitivity to light) sets in.  Kind of hard to stare at a monitor when the light is burning my cornea.  Migarines! A fiendish alli of the devil that has been put in place to keep me from realizing my talents.

     Ever notice how injuries tend to hurt people in ways worse than another person might take it.  For example: a writer goes blind … how does he write? A carpenter gets arthritis … how does he work? A runner loses a leg in an accident … how does he run? A photographer goes blind.  etc etc…  We see all the time the will of man prevailing past these logs in the road and we write about them or make movies dedicated to the strength of man.  I have to tell you, being a writer who suffers from migraines is like being a painter who is losing his sight.  It is not easy and sometimes makes me want to give up on it, but I haven’t.

     Toady i put my head down on the cold table at Starbucks with a cup of ice water poised on my neck and lowered the light on the computer screen, closed my left eye (the one which hurt most), and typed with one finger.  Oh, I saw the looks people gave me, but you know what? I finished chapter twelve of my third book.  I pushed past the thorn in my eye and prevailed.  I conquered the migraine monster that was all set to defeat the fair Chapter Twelve and laugh as I went fetal under a cold shower and 800mg of Ibuprofen…BUT, I prevailed! I opened my throbbing left eye, raised my cup of ice water and shouted, “I AM A WRITER! READ MY ROAR!” Okay…not really.  I hit “sleep” on the computer then went and took a nap in my car until my son got out of school, but its the principal of the matter, I think.

     Today’s word of wisdom: don’t let it get you down.  Whatever your “It” is, your will is much bigger.  It may be a small accomplishment like finishing the last few paragraphs in chapter twelve, or it may be getting up out of bed after a bad break up.  Whatever “it” is, you must be strong in mind.  Then you can be strong in body.  And when you are strong in mind and body, then you can be strong in soul.  Give yourself permission to be bigger than the boogeyman.  I conquered the migraine monster, now go defeat your monster.

Being Inspired and other snot related topics

     As I sit here, a box of tissues on one side, a cup stained with an airborne ring on the counter, used wads of tissue on the other side, and a Huskyish dog laid across my feet, I find that I want absolutely no part of writing today.  My head is pounding, my nose has found some super-human way to create mucous faster than my body can absorb water to remain in balance and the sneezing fits have reminded me why doing kegels is so important…mental note:start doing kegels.  It is times like these when I stare at the screen, through the one eye that isn’t bogged down and feeling the inflamation of snot behind it, and just tell the voices in my head, “give it a rest already. Geesh.  Even the good Lord took a day off.  Go find a nice spot to nap, maybe behind the medulla, but stay clear of the frontal lobe, it’s pretty back logged from the sinus cavities.” 

     So, today I am taking a break from writing and editing.  Besides, I am still in recovery from frontal lobe overload after taking my pediatric advanced life support class for TWELVE HOURS yesterday.  It was a lovely class though.  And I am now primed and ready to run a pediatric code blue…I pray the day never comes.  But with a soggy brain comes fatigue, and with fatigue comes something every writer dreads: writer’s block.  Well of course it’s blocked!!! A single, independent, creative thought couldn’t possibility penetrate the snot fortress that resides between my eyes.  Yes, yes, I said snot, mucous, and kegels…this is what a sinus attack has leveled me to: four year old topics (except the kegels). 

     When I get writer’s block I have to look to be inspired.  I find inspiration all over, which is nice because where most people see a cat and a dog peeking into a turtle pond, I see an entire story playing out.  Having creative genes is wonderful sometimes.  Where do I get inspired? I listen to music, mainly country music because it has a story line and I can build on that or get ideas.  I also talk nonsense to my oldest son who has a quirky, often times warped, sense of humor and sees things from a very jaded perspective.  One such conversation:

Son: Super Target is far better than a regular Target

Me: Why?

Son: Cause it has the word super in it.

Me: Defend that statement (a term i use to get my kids to defend their thoughts)

And so my son goes on to say that anyone can be a hero at some point in time, but you have to have special powers and abilities to be a Superhero.  And that given the choice between being a villain or a supervillain most the population would choose to be a supervillain.  And going to the market is one thing, but if we want to find my Izze drinks we have to go to the Supermarket or SUPER TARGET therefor anything with the word super in front of it is inherently better.

     I have also had great conversation with the Huskyish dog (half german sheppard half american eskimo=husky looking, short dog).  I mean if you ever want to have a good knock down, drag out therapy session, just talk to your pet.  They are full of antics.  The last conversation with Snookie (the huskyish dog) went like this:

Me: why are you so sad?

Dog: head tilt, raise of eyebrow

Me: Is it because you don’t know whether yo are an American Eskimo or a German Sheppard?

Dog: licks his nose

Me: There are many people…animals…that are mixed races…breeds…but that just makes you special.  I mean, come on, you are an American Eskimo.  You are a native to this land, and i think privy to a few casino rights.  But as a German you have a strong background in history.  I mean Hitler, come one…you could be a direct decendent of Hitler’s dog.  Power combined with casino rights…you could start your own mob. 

Dog: lays down

Me: Yeah (sighs), I’m not sure that German Sheppard was your real father either.  Kind of a buzz kill, isn’t it?

     I was told it was okay to talk to animals as long as they didn’t talk back.  Anyone see that Youtube video gone viral? The one with the talking dog? In my head, all my animals respond like that.  They all have voices, personalities, and specific traits.  And yes, they do talk back to me, but they are so inspiring.  And anyone who says they don’t talk to their pets is sitting on a throne of lies (arbitrary).  Okay, so I find inspiration from music, my family, my pets, and the world around me.  But I also like to browse Thesaurus.com for new words, because when I come across a fun word I highlight it and copy it into a word doc called, “fun words.” Genius, I know.  But what it does is it helps me to think up new dialogue or descriptions for my story and helps widdle through the writer’s block.

     Here is something I personally do not do for help with block: I do not read someone else’s novel.  The only reason I do not do it during this specific time is because, for me, it is counter productive.  I start to feel bad that I can’t finish what I started and here the author has the audacity to write so eloqunet and seemlessly.  I feel like a failure and suffer from writer’s block remorse and spin down a shame spiral until I’m sitting in bed watching Youtube God of War, how it should have ended, while eating Oreo cookies and telling my cat how lucky she is, then feel even worse when she gets tired of listening to my pathetic life and walks away.  “You’re supposed to be lowering my blood pressure,” I yell as she disappears. 

     Okay, to conclude: pets, family, life, music, and thesaurus.com are my inspirations to push past writer’s block.  But, today, I can hardly find the strength to push past the mucous.  So I’m going to design the video to my new book.  If you have any good ideas to get passed writer’s block let me know.  And if you have any cures, legal or otherwise, to clear up the sinuses, I’m down for those too.

 

Huskyish

A boy and his co-dependent Husky-ish dog