Never stare at a blank page helplessly ever again.

Here’s some ways I’ve found that help to keep inspiration coming, the words flowing, and never having to face writers block again.

Never Stare at a Blank Page Ever Again Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I frequently get asked how I can write every day, do I get writers block, and how is it possible that I can have many works in progress going at the same time… well I think it comes down to organisation. Time management and compartmentalisation. That, and your personality, and work ethic. We all have different habits and things that aid our productivity. Sometimes I like music in the background, sometimes not. I might perform better in a café with paper and pen, and other times locked away from interruption in my office at the computer. The trick is developing a collection of tricks that keep you mind working and the words flowing.

And never let an idea pass you by. Write down everything.

I have an ideas folder. A section for story concepts, interesting characters, or scenes that jumped into my head at one time or another. They are always great sources of inspiration, or even parts I can include in a plot I’m working on…

As for my works in progress… I mix in “pantsing” and planning. Meaning, for the most part, I’ll blurt out anywhere between two and five chapters in a story straight from my head before I go back and look at things like structure, pace, plot, character development, if the writing in engaging… and from there start to form a framework, tweaks and plan out the rest of the novel. I do this in two ways – massive spreadsheets where I can label scenes, turning points, note how each chapter is driving the story forward, keep track of content and time lines… having a detailed plan means I can skip forward and back without dropping out of the narrative. The second method, is having blank pages for each chapter in the book, and scribbling notes on what I want to happen in each chapter – it grows as I start writing, and before commencing to write each new chapter I’ll review the points, put them in order and follow that map as best I can. Sometimes it works flawlessly, and other times my characters react in unforeseen ways and I head back to the drawing board. Never let your outline keep you trapped.

Never Stare at a Blank Page Ever Again Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I feel the need to be flexible in how and where I write. Sometimes the character tells me where the story is going, sometimes I need the focus of a storyboard, scene by scene to get me writing.

never-stare-at-a-blank-page-ever-again-pic-05-by-casey-carlisle

Whenever you get stuck, switch it up. Move out of the study or office, jump to a different point in your manuscript, chat to someone about your work, take a walk around the block. The more tricks you have in your repertoire the better equipped you are to keep the inspiration and words flowing.

Everyone has a slow day. Don’t let it bother you. Writing is more a state of mind thing than anything. At one point I was journaling my feelings before writing – it was the only thing that enabled me to leave the emotional baggage at the office door.

But my most successful tool, above all the other tips and tricks has been time management. If I set a timer for an hour and work on one thing, be it a scene, chapter, concept, blog for one hour and then stop. It will always get me out of a writing funk. Who says you need to be sitting at your computer fourteen hours a day in order to call yourself a writer? A few productive hours a day could be just as good. Structure your day to free up a no distraction window and give yourself a simple task.

never-stare-at-a-blank-page-ever-again-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle

Hand in hand with this activity is that spreadsheet or storyboard, because you can switch projects or chapters/scenes on a whim. Breaking your down into chunks of simple tasks can kick start your brain and get those creative juices flowing.

Whether it’s immersing yourself in scenes – feeling a breeze in your hair, the warmth of the sun on your face, the tang of salt in the air as you sit at the beach to scribble out a lusty romance set in the crashing waves; or concentrating on a conversation between two characters while you sit at a coffee shop, or hide in an office to knock off a chapter in complete silence; keep experimenting and finding things that work for you.

And as always… happy writing.

never-stare-at-a-blank-page-ever-again-pic-04-by-casey-carlisle

What tips and tricks do you use that keep up your productivity for writing? Share them in the comments section below – I’d love to hear about them.

uppercase-lowercase-banner-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When writing just… won’t!

When Writing just wont Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Combating brain-fry, an author’s biggest frustration.

This isn’t about writer’s block necessarily, because I’m always creating something on paper – but more about how, if you are trying to complete a project and not feeling it.

I’ve was racing to the finish line with another Work In Progress for May, but the wind went out of my sails. I know I could’ve soldiered on and laid down the structure and embellish later, but I write to escape and enjoy, and tap into something intangible that creates a special magic – so when those things aren’t there, I’d rather not.

When Writing just wont Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.gifSo I’ve found that I generally have two or three projects I work on simultaneously. When the creativity dries up on one story, I give another go. It’s like being an actor and stepping into a different role. The characters and situation are different so it feels new. Plus, I believe your brain continues to subliminally work on things when you aren’t consciously staring at it. I get some of my best ideas for stories in this manner. Once your imagination sputters to life again over your main project, you can jump back.

 

Another avenue is writing a blog post or book review – their quick and easy, get the flow of words pouring out of the ol’ noggin, and you recieve the feeling of a job well done on completion (not to mention feedback – hopefully positive – from fellow readers).

When Writing just wont Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.gif

If none of that works, I relax with a movie, a book or listen to music; really indulging in the experience. Even a spot of gardening or window shopping helps snap the brain out of its continual task of stringing words together, and stimulate some other senses. Again it takes a small amount of time before I feel fresh and recharged, ready to tackle my manuscript again.

When Writing just wont Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gif

What do you do when you start to fizzle out? I’d love to hear about your stories, tips and tricks to keep the excitement at a sustainable level. Comment below…

And as always, happy writing!

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing habits to increase productivity

giphy (4)

Toss writing slumps out the window!

Weird Writing Habits Make it Real by Casey CarlisleWhen you get a brain fart or idea WRITE IT DOWN! After that, create a blurb, a character profile, design a plot or book cover. Start scrapbooking material for the idea to grow… the more material you have the greater chances you can pick up where you left off when it comes to do some serious writing. Feed your imagination, let it run free.

Talking over your ideas with a friend can also help stimulate the old noggin.

Weird Writing Habits Read by Casey CarlisleRead anything. It gets the brain box clunking and whizzing. You’ve heard the saying – the best ideas come when you’re doing something else? Well it’s true. Your grey matter is a muscle, if you don’t use it how do you expect it to run a marathon? Also, reading is like market research – especially critical reading. You see what works, what doesn’t, discover new words and ways to express yourself, and hey, you might actually have a bit of fun.

Weird Writing Habits Follow Blogs by Casey CarlisleYou can do this passively, reading bits and pieces of interest: it exposes you to the world of writing and publishing. Feeds relevant information you may never have heard of, and quite possibly offer important contacts to help you grow your career. I’ve found sources like WordPress and LinkedIn great.

Weird Writing Habits Word of the Day by Casey CarlisleI know it sounds really lame, but every now and then you learn something new, rediscover a great word… keep them is a folder and skim through just before you do a re-write or edit, you’ll be surprised at how much it can up your game.

Weird Writing Habits Set a Goal by Casey CarlisleWrite something every day – it creates habit, gets the juices flowing. It’s practice for making writing a career (or full time job if you are already writing). You’ll relate when I say, sometimes forcing out a few sentences (even if they are bad and you’ll delete them later) is like that first cup of coffee in the morning, it gives you the jolt you need to get going.

It’s best to have something to edit and improve on rather than continuing to stare at a blank page.

Weird Writing Habits Create an Environment by Casey CarlisleA space to help you write. This changes for me all the time. Sometimes it’s about sitting at a desk, like I’m in an office – other times it may be staying in bed, ultra-comfortable. Occasionally a trip outdoors, a coffee shop, the library, the airport or even public transport helps (change up your scenery). Lately, after moving from city to country, I no longer write late at night, but wake naturally around 5-6 am and get in a few productive hours (maybe it’s the fresh air or loud-ass birds, but either way I’ll take a good writing session wherever it comes).

Try different methods – typing, hand writing, voice recording… every little bit helps.

Weird Writing Habits Be Accountable by Casey CarlisleSet yourself goals. Talk about them with your friends, discuss your books – create an environment that makes it difficult for you to get away with crappy excuses for not writing. Plus if you hit a rough patch or suffer writers block, your friends may help you break through.

Set a date to have your next chapter completed. Even get a friend to keep you to it.

These are just some methods I use to help the momentum of writing. What things help you get into the flow? I’d love to learn new trick and tips.

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing slump = Reading blitz!

If it’s not one thing it’s the other…

books-on-the-ground

I have been absent from my blog over the past four weeks or so. I managed to get food poisoning, and from there it was just a downward spiral… when you are feeling crappy (and sorry for yourself) it’s hard to force those creative juices and sit at the keyboard all day. Let alone venture outside when you’d scare children away with a pallid complexion and unbrushed hair.

So I indulged in the other side of my literary love – reading. I don’t recall a time when I have ever read so many books in such a short space of time, demolishing my T.B.R pile considerably. I was entertained, I learnt a few things, and experienced many feels.

And I don’t feel guilty, because I accomplished something (other) in the time I should have been writing.

guilty_no_of_course_not

My reading experience was purely intuitive. I wasn’t working through a list, just simply pulling books that I felt like reading at the time. A couple I put back after ten pages or so, and the results have been very satisfying… it should have been a read-a-thon!

So now I have a back log of book reviews to write up – plenty of blogging fuel. (so stay tuned)

Usually when I take a break from writing it’s for marketing material, but this marathon of reading was so much fun… what are your best productive escapes from writing?

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Scramble your brain – you may be surprised what comes out.

Scrable your brain Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleWhen I get stuck on my work in progress I don’t let it defeat me!

After jumping back and forward in the plot, editing, or working on some marketing material, if I’m just not feeling it, I jump into what I call – kamikaze writing mode

Basically I force my grey matter to start scratching for ideas.

I set up my day (or usually a few weeks) where I begin at my desk at 8am and spend an hour solid writing. Be it on another novel, blog post, or something new. I set a timer so there is no excuses, no interruptions and scribe away. You have to disconnect during this time: no checking email, surfing facebook, no phone, just you and the page!

When that hour is up, you have half an hour reprieve – but that must be something active. This usually entails housework of some kind, or gardening, running an errand, or dancing stupidly with the dogs. The point is to get the blood pumping and remove yourself from writing/creating completely.

And thus goes my day until 5-5:30pm when I can finally relax and tally up my word count.

The results usually yield anywhere between 6,000-10,000 words. Generally after a week of doing this method, I have enough material to edit and motivation to focus on a single project again. I guess it’s not overcoming writers block per se, more like giving your head a shake up to get out of a rut.

Sometimes reading a good book, or watching a fun movie helps. Visiting friends or simply sitting outside in nature away from all the noise and trappings revitalises the ol’ noggin’.

Scramble you brain thingsithinkarekindacooldotcomWhat techniques do you have for keeping your writing fresh? Do you get a feel for when your writing starts to go flat? I love sharing tips on feeding that inner muse and want to hear what you do… comment below!

In the meantime – happy writing.

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Don’t let people suck away all your creativity … by Casey Carlisle

Image

I’m talking about spiritual vampires… the leeches that feed on your ideas, positivity and diminish your motivation.

We’ve all come across someone in our lives who affects you in a negative way, stresses you out, puts you or your ideas down. A person who is always making negative statements and complaining. It can impact your writing (or whatever your medium may be), and stifle your flow if not careful. We are all artists and wordsmiths, and once doubt and frustration infect your soul in can taint your every thought and is difficult to shake.

I like to use these types of characters as inspiration for traits in include in the cast of my novels, funnelling all that ‘woe-is-me’ on to the page. It can add an interesting story arc for redemption or offer a challenge (or comparison) for your protagonist.

Turn a negative into a positive. Got writers block? Write about a writer who’s hit a wall and what has snuffed out his or her inspiration. Hey, at least it gets you writing again! Turning the cogs in that ol’ noggin of yours.

My best friend calls it the ‘Pollyanna Approach.’ How I always take the crap in my life and use it as fertilizer to grow something rewarding. I know it sounds like your typical overcoming adversity, or finding the optimist spiel, but I think it is a valuable lesson in taking stock of our surrounds when we work in a creative field. The environment and people around us can inversely measure against our process.

I only say all of this because, from my own personal experience, early on in my writing career there were many nay-sayers regarding my probability of earning a living out of this vocation. By devaluing the thing I was most passionate about, it quelled most of my urge to continuing to write. It took me several years to wake up one day and announce, ‘What the hey – I can’t not write.’ And so I did. Not for a job. Hell, not even with the thought I was going to turn it into a full time career. I started because I wanted to do it for myself. There were just too many ideas crowding my head I needed to get down on paper.

Now, because I no longer pay attention to anyone doubting my storytelling skills, I am so much happier. Words continue to flow. Novels continue to pour out of me. So don’t let the doubting thomas’ or saboteurs control your passion. Do it for yourself. Be proud of your creations.

We need to support each other, give a pat on the back and compliment those who can pluck ideas out of thin air. They lead, entertain, teach… what we do is important. So next time you feel like the walls are closing in, take a look around you and identify what is the source of your dilemma – and use it!

Image

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Overcoming writers block and being stereotyped into a genre … by Casey Carlisle

When your path is obstructed, dig under it in a futuristic tunneling machine, fly over it on your dragon, or will it into non-existence with your psychic powers….

Image

In a recent discussion with an interviewer for an upcoming podcast, I was asked how I overcome writers block, and if was I afraid of being typecast as a YA Author. I thought I’d share some of my ponderings here and leave it to other writers for comment; what do you do to blast away that creative geyser? How many of us write in more than one style? Granted keeping within a certain demographic for marketing is beneficial for the dollars to come rolling in, but does that satisfy your inner muse?

For me, the key is to ignore the fear of switching to another project when inspiration for the one you’re working on dries up….

I feel you don’t have to get stuck writing within a single genre for the rest of your career – write about what ever takes your fancy – it’s all practice and helping to hone your skill as a writer. If stepping too far away from your signature style raises issues with your publisher or fans, there is always the option of publishing under a ghost name, right? Or simply the satisfaction of having vacated ideas out of your system, knowing it will never see another set of eyes than your own?

Interspersing your writing with short stories and blogs acts as a pallet cleanser for me – allowing the cerebellum to take a brief hiatus from the subject matter, all the while still flexing its IQ muscle, before returning with a fresh take to pick up where you left off with renewed vigor. Those small projects also add a sense of accomplishment, reinforcing the satisfaction from pulling a piece of literature out of the ether and jotting it down on paper (or the computer screen if you will).

I don’t think I will ever stick to a certain genre, certainly I will repeatedly return to my favorite, a comfort zone where I can let my freak flag fly, but essentially I crave variety and will occasionally meander to invent a new reality in the written word.

I always find it somewhat annoying, and amusing, when asked what types of books I write, or what are they about… do you have a spare day or two? A short answer will never satisfy or truly capture my work; I live eat and breathe the world inside the pages, growing with each keystroke. It is all consuming, and to sum it up in a few sentences feels insulting. No-one ever wants a long diatribe of your characters, arcs and plot line (they’ll read your book for that)… but that is exactly what writers have to create. We all need a blurb, a teaser, a summary, something to hand over to marketing and publishing professionals, hopefully with enough zing to get your masterpiece on the shelves to reach the masses. I’ve found the best solution to help me with this challenge is to ask my beta readers to write their own versions of blurbs: the results can be so left-of-field and exciting.

So my old noggin is always churning out prose, scattered among way too many projects, but over the years it has enabled me to keep the flow, and stick to a routine of writing daily. No more staring blankly at the screen waiting for inspiration.

The whole notion of being typecast for my writing – well I gave up worrying what people say or think about me in high school. If a finished work does not look like it will gel with my existing brand, then it’s like to add another brand! I like to think about reaching for the stars, it can only take you that one step closer to something extraordinary.

My biggest problem now is not having enough time… that and cake. Yes there is never enough cake!

Image

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.