Negativity + Anger = Less Creativity

I find myself looking for advice on every topic, from politics to movies, through the internet; but I have to say, the best advice out there still comes from the pulpit. Now, I’m not here to preach or get religious on you, but I really learned something today and I wanted to share it with everyone.

My wife and I are not regular church-goers, but we watch Paster Joel Osteen anytime he’s on. Some people like him, some hate him, some say he’s more guru than a minister, but to me, he is an excellent preacher. I love the way he takes everyday life, scriptures, and Bible stories and weaves them into his sermons. Watching and listening to him over the past few years has taught me more about being a good Christian than 18 years of growing up a Southern Baptist.

Today, he was talking about negativity and how it can impact your life. He talked about how hanging onto negative emotions can block you from your inner creativity and reaching your goals. It really hit home with me because of what I’ve been going through this past year and how it’s stifled my ability to write.

I lost my job recently. It was me being stupid and thinking it couldn’t happen to me and, guess what, it did. Since then, I had to cash in my 401K, file for bankruptcy and cut back on a lot of the luxuries in my life.

I took the opportunity to do what I love to do and write. I was able to push through and finish my third book in the Forever Avalon series, but that was several months ago. I tried to start writing my fourth book but the creativity just won’t flow. I know the story I want to write. I can see it in my head, I just can’t make the connection to write it down. Writer’s block is normal but it’s more than that. My creativity has stalled and diving towards the ground.

I know that I’m still hanging onto a lot of excess negative baggage. Every time I drive by my former place of work, my stomach tightens and I my head hurts. It’s found its way into my dreams that wake me up at night. Everyone has told me to move on and get past it, but it’s not that easy. I spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Navy, both as a Sailor and a civilian. It’s what made me the person I am today and I threw it away.

I would love to sit at home and spend my days writing, spinning story after story and make a life at this, but it’s just not possible right now. This “black cloud” that’s hanging over me is still there. I did make it go away, for a while, when I went up to the Military Academy at West Point to write for the 2016 Warrior Games. I was in my element, writing press releases and feature articles by day and working on my own stories at night. When I look back at those two weeks, I know that there is a silver lining out there for me, I just have to find it again.

I’m sorry if I seem to be venting and using my blog to tell my sad little story, but there is point coming. I know there are probably a few people out there feeling the same way I do. I just want to relay that message from Paster Osteen. You need to let go of the negativity, whether it’s getting past something bad that happened in your life, a fight with a loved one, a sudden illness or maybe even something worse. Let go of it all and you can find that inner peace, that spark of imagination or find yourself making that goal.

I know I’m going to work on my issues to get back to writing. I have many more stories to tell and I don’t want this one thing to stop me in my tracks. We all have to find a way.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

What lies beyond Writer’s Block? How about the “Writer’s Bottomless Pit of Doom!

Center-of-the-Earth-1000Writer’s Block is defined as “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.” For many writers like me, we just call it “a slow march into Hell with only a thimble of water to drink.” It can make or break any author. It will make you miss deadlines, collapse goals and potentially lose money we haven’t earned from our last book. In other words, a bottomless pit from which there is no escape for the weak and weary. Once you’re there, it’s hard to climb your way out of it.

It can also cause an author to get distracted and do other things besides writing, from playing video games to watching a movie or surfing the internet. These distractions can lead to even longer delays in finishing your novel, blog, etc. So, what can we do to correct these inactions and lessen the distractions?

In the times I’ve experienced writer’s block, I found the best thing to do is to step back and take a breath. Sometimes, you get so wrapped up in writing that you can’t think straight and that leads to writer’s block. You have to stop and pull yourself together to find your zen and continue on. I know that sounds more like one of the problems when an author gets writer’s block, but it’s the best way that works for me.

To give you an example, when I was writing the second book in the Forever Avalon series, I started writing it as a prequel. I wanted to talk about the 10 years my lead character spent on Avalon before the rest of his family showed up on the island. After about the first four chapters, I got stuck. It wasn’t flowing right for me so I stopped and backed away from the story to gather my thoughts. It took me a few months and then it hit me. I started to write my second novel, The Dark Tides, as a straight sequel and used the pages I already write as flashbacks to help carry the story. It ended up being a monstrous book, nearly 200,000 words, but I was able to finish the remainder of my novel without any more episodes of writer’s block.

Others advise you to avoid distractions like television, music, etc. To me, if you have the right mood music, it helps in writing. Whenever I’m writing, I like to have a movie playing in the background, away from where I can see it, but where I can still hear it. My usual preference is a fantasy movie like Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia or The Hobbit. This keeps my mind in fantasy-mode (for lack of a better word) and helps me push through any writer’s block.

There are tons of articles out there with varied advice on how to avoid and overcome writer’s block. The one thing they all agree on is to stop writing for the readers and write for yourself. Tell your stories, write what you want to write, not what’s currently hip and trending. Remember, trends usually go the way of parachute pants and hair metal bands. Write what you want to write.

In the end, it’s up to you to find that happy place that lets your creativity flow and propel you into, as the song goes, the “Playground of my Mind.”

“In the wonders that I find,
In the playground in my mind,
In a world that used to be,
Close your eyes and follow me.”

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Writer’s Block and, uh, well … How to get past it as quickly as possible, nor not!

writers-block-text-cubeI’ve been sitting here for the past five minutes, trying to figure out what to write my next blog about, but I hit a wall. Writer’s block can be a royal pain in the … Wait a minute, that’s it! Writer’s block!

Writer’s block can and always will be the angst of anyone who spent time writing everything from a term paper to the great novel; but it’s especially frustrating for new authors like me. You have all these great ideas swirling around your head but every time you try to put pen to paper or hands to keyboard, it just won’t come out.

When I started writing my first novel, Forever Avalon, I found it rather easy to write. During the two years I spent writing, the words flowed quite freely. That changed when I started writing the next book in the Forever Avalon series, The Dark Tides.

Before I go any further, I need to provide you with a little bit of background on my novels. Forever Avalon is about a Sailor who falls overboard during a storm at sea and finds himself on the magical island of Avalon. A year later, his family follows him and ends up on the island with him, but time passes differently on Avalon so one year for them has been ten years for him.

That being said, when I started writing the next book in the series, I originally wanted to do a prequel, focusing on the 10 years Bryan MoonDrake spent on Avalon before his family showed up. It started out easy for me. The story flowed as easily as my first novel. Then, I hit the wall.

No matter what I tried, I just lost my train of thought. I spent months writing about 1/3 of the book and I was stumped with a bad case of writer’s block. Nothing helped getting me back on track, so I just walked away. I had to take a step back for the time being until I knew where I wanted to go with the story.

I knew the story I wanted to tell but I just couldn’t translate that on paper. It was so frustrating. All the while, I kept having thoughts and dreams of the next chapter of the story, picking up where I left off. Then … Light bulb!

I started writing again, but this time I continued the the adventures of the MoonDrake family as their daughter Ashley returned to Avalon with her new husband Andrew for a honeymoon on a medieval fantasy world.

The problem was, I didn’t want to lose the huge amount of work I already put in on the prequel. That’s when I decided to use those pages as flashbacks to help move the story along. This was something I saw before in a great novel by Robert McCammon called The Wolf’s Hour.

In my 30 years as a journalist and author, I have found that the best cure for writer’s block is to walk away, collect your thoughts and then get back in there and break though. You have to keep writing, no matter what you do.

Writer Meme

I also realized that you always have to go with your gut. I ignored the idea of continuing the Forever Avalon story right where I left off because I had my heart set on writing a prequel. It was because of that writer’s block that I finally put myself on the right path and was able to writer The Dark Tides.

Do let writer’s block stop you from finishing your work, use it get yourself on the right track and tell the story you were meant to write.