For What It's Worth

Monday, December 21, 2015

Guest post: How to Beat Writer’s Block by Alexandra Diaz & Giveaway!

I’ve been celebrating my 6th year blogoversary all month by asking my favorite author’s to stop by the blog with 5 of their favorite book-ish things.

Today I’ve invited Alexndra Diaz. Her book, Of All the Stupid Things, was the very first book I reviewed on the blog. And Alexandra was also the first author I ever met in person and she could not have been any nicer.

So let me hand it off to Alexandra and her tips for beating writer’s block. I know quite a few of my followers are also aspiring writers. Enjoy!

How to Beat Writer's Block (with or without a stick)

You can run and you can hide, but sooner or later most writers will hit the brick wall and think, whine, moan, bitch, or cry, "What can I write now? I don't know what to do." If you wait for inspiration to strike or the muse to move you, you're likely never to finish anything. Which means, if you hit a writer's block, you're just going to have to barge through until you get to the other side.

"But how?" you think, whine, moan, bitch, or cry.

"Ahhh," I say as if this never happens to me and I'm not really just procrastinating, "Well..."

1) Take a hike. Seriously. But go without human companions (canines companions however are highly encouraged!). Pick a trail you know well and won't get lost. Think or speak to yourself (it's perfectly OK to talk to and even answer yourself out loud. Artistic license, own it!) about your story or characters. Think about what a character would do/say about a certain situation. Get into that character's head to learn how he/she ticks. As you're walking, let yourself get lost in your fictional world, forgetting about everyday life. Chances are, you'll come up with some new ideas or insights for your work. Amazing what some fresh air can do!

2) Write it out. In a journal, computer (new document), or a scrap of paper (I like using the back side of computer paper). Write out a problem you're having in your writing and continue from there, whatever comes to your mind. My notes often look a bit like this: "I don't know what to do with this character. He's a bit two-dimensional but he does bring comic relief. Maybe if I give him a horse named Max that will spice things up..." Don't even worry about writing in full sentences or making sense. These notes are for you only. I find that in my head, problems can go around in a perpetual loop and nothing gets resolved but when I write out my thoughts, things suddenly become clearer and the possibilities become endless. This is definitely my most used trick!

3) Skip it. When you get to a point in your story where you don't know how to get a character from here to there and nothing seems to work, leave it and start the story up from the point you do know what's going to happen. Instead of fixating on the problem, sometimes a distraction is what you need to solve the problem, or even realize there is no problem. However, I recommend sticking with the same story/novel. If you're stuck and move to a different novel, chances are you'll never return to the first one and no one likes a partial novel.

4) Think outside the box. Word-web, great for blackboards, whiteboard, or large sheets of paper.. Start with a word or concept (particularly one that's giving you trouble) in the center and then from that word, link/write everything you can that think associates with that word/phrase around the first word, and then write words that associate with the other word and the next word until you have a large tangled web of words and ideas surrounding the first word that show what can be done with a single word or concept. This is great for people who think in nonlinear forms.

5) Instead of fixing the problem, sometimes you just have to delete it. Now, I don't mean truly delete, gone forever. I'm a big believer of keeping all kinds of writing/works in progress, even the not so good parts. But sometimes an awkward scene can keep us from moving forward. Take a section that's not working, save it to an external drive or email it to yourself, and then delete it from your regular computer. Now, ask yourself if you really needed it. If the answer's yes, then start rewriting it. I know this sounds like a lot of work to rewrite a scene but think of how much time you're saving instead of over-agonizing not knowing how to make it good. As you're rewriting your section, you'll remember to include the good things that worked before, but will bring new angles and fresh ideas to your scene which will make it stronger and more likely to work better.

Now, you have no excuse to write and FINISH instead of waiting for the reluctant muse to make an appearance. But of course, if you're like me, beating writer's block is nothing compared to procrastination...ooh, look! Someone posted a new quiz online!

Alexandra Diaz is a Cuban-American spending her time between Bath, England, Santa Fe, NM, and the rest of the world. She has an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and has led various workshops since she was fourteen. As a result of being homeschooled for most of high school, she’s fascinated by teenage school life and the drama that occurs in those quarters. One of the reasons she writes is to experience life in someone else’s shoes. She is a “jenny of all trades” having worked as a nanny, teacher, film extra, tour guide, and dairy goat judge (seriously) among several other jobs. In addition to traversing the world, she enjoys hiking, swing dancing, and performing circus arts. Website | Twitter | Facebook

Of All the Stupid Things
recently got a revamp with a new title – When We Were - and cover. There were only a few minor changes so my original review should still apply.

Previously published as OF ALL THE STUPID THINGS, this coming of age novel is a 2011 ALA Rainbow List Book and a 2011 New Mexico Book Award Finalist.

No one messes with Whitney Blaire or her friends, which is why she can’t help but let it slip that someone spotted Tara’s boyfriend making out with one of the guy cheerleaders.

Even after spending hours training for her marathon, down-to-earth Tara can’t outrun the rumors about the boyfriend she thought was perfect.

Pinkie, the rock and “Big Sister” of their inseparable group, just wants things to stay exactly the way they are…

…but that’s not possible when new-girl Riley arrives in school and changes everything.

Suddenly Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt before—for anyone—while Whitney Blaire tries to convince her that this new girl is Trouble. Meanwhile, Pinkie’s world begins to crumble as she begins to suspect that the friends she depends on are not the girls she thought she knew. Can friendship survive when all the rules are broken? ~

* There’s a giveaway going on for a copy at Book Bird Fiction if you’re interested.

And…. I’m really looking forward to Alexandra’s 2016 release - Good Girls Don’t Lie. Described as a “YA Mexican- American Juno.”



To celebrate my 6 year Blogoversary - I'm giving away a bag of goodies. Just enter below or on any of the 6 author guest post throughout the month of December. (It will be the same rafflecopter form so you only need to enter once)

Sorry US only - I do have an international book giveaway going on right now - link in sidebar!

Gift bag includes a journal, bookmarks, magnets, sticker, pin and one mug of your choice ($15 value) from Bookworm Boutique


  1. Fascinating post. It's amazing how many authors recommend walking as a way of beating Writer's Blog. Perhaps something to do with fresh air, of getting away from distractions, whatever, it seems to work.

    1. I know when I do something for too long - especially anything on the computer - I know I lose focus and don't notice details anymore so I imagine getting away clears your head.

  2. I think I'd do better by beating it with a stick. :) Seriously, those are some good ideas. I need a good place to hike.

  3. The fifth one, for me, is the most difficult but sound advice. I'm the type who doesn't easily let go. I always think of what I invested and how I can maybe make it work somehow. But sometimes, it just doesn't work.

    Happy holidays, karen!

    1. I find it helps to at the very least - set it aside. Usually a day or so later I find ways that fix whatever the problem was.

  4. Def want read this now! Also happy blogoversary!!