We're happy to welcome NY Times and USA Today Best-selling Author Brenda Novak back to the Lair. This month Brenda released the first book in her new Department 6 series, WHITE HEAT, followed by BODY HEAT and KILLER HEAT. These stand-alone stories revolve around a private security company whose members work as "hired guns."
In WHITE HEAT, Nate Ferrentino and Rachel Jessop are hired to infiltrate a dangerous cult that has recently settled in the former ghost town of Paradise, Arizona. Members of this cult worship at the feet—and in the bed--of its charismatic leader, Ethan Wycliff. But with one woman claiming to have been stoned, and another missing, Wycliff might be more of a devil than the prophet he claims to be….
I attended Brenda's launch party for WHITE HEAT yesterday, picked up my own copy, and started reading last night. You'll enjoy Brenda's latest book! To one lucky commenter today Brenda's giving away a signed copy of WHITE HEAT, along with a lip gloss created especially for Brenda by Three Color Specialists, and named after her newest book -- that's right -- the lip gloss is called White Heat!
Join me in welcoming my good friend, Brenda Novak, back to the Lair to talk about "Writers Block" or ""Filling the Creative Well."
WRITERS BLOCK OR FILLING THE WELL
One question I get asked more than any other is whether or not I ever get writer's block. That dread inability to produce so often depicted (comedically and otherwise) in the media strikes fear into the heart of any writer at the mere mention of it.
But I don’t believe in writer’s block as something that can inexplicably steal my muse and thwart all my efforts to turn out a good book. There are days when I get stuck, however, when my scenes seem to be turning to drivel or I can’t get them to hold any emotional tension.
That’s when I know something is wrong. I’ve taken the story where it wasn’t meant to go, for lack of a better way to describe it. Fortunately, there are methods I can use to get myself “unstuck.” Experience has taught me to mentally step away from the manuscript and examine it from a macro perspective, always asking myself, “Where did you go wrong?”
I start from the beginning and check the story as a plumber might check a series of pipes for leaks. I feel my way along, testing each scene to see if it’s “holding water.” I read, consider, read, consider and read some more until I find the “break” or part that isn’t in harmony with my intuition.
Sometimes I do this by reading the manuscript aloud to my husband and asking for his input. Then we both look at the reasons my story isn’t coming together and hash it out between us. Maybe I’m forcing my characters to do or say things these types of characters would never do or say. Maybe I’m ascribing a certain trait or pathology to my villain that just isn’t ringing true. Maybe I’ve veered too far away from my “core story.” It’s a bit of a hassle to go back, and definitely risks some unraveling and rewriting, but if I take the time to do this I almost always find the point that’s troubling my subconscious and interrupting my ability to proceed. And once I find the break, I can fix it simply by figuring out WHY is isn't working.
Sometimes my production will fall not because the story isn’t coming together but because I’m too distracted to concentrate properly, or I’m emotionally exhausted. At these times, I need to “fill the well” by reading for pleasure, listening to music I find deeply stirring and emotional, or reading quotes or poems that resonate with me. The musical score from Les Miserables fires me up every time. Same with Phantom of the Opera. Watching a good movie will also jumpstart my muse.
My favorite is Last of the Mohicans. That emotional scene where the hero (played by Daniel-Day Lewis) is forced to leave the heroine (played by Madelyn Stowe) behind at the waterfall never fails to rejuvenate me. Taking a break to be with people helps, too. Laughter is a general cure-all.
The most important thing I can do when I run into a glitch in my story is to give myself time to work with it instead of overreacting. Panicking only makes it more difficult to fight through the rough patch. Occasionally, all I need to do is sleep. Somehow, my subconscious continues to mull over the problem--and when I get up in the morning, the path is once again clear.
Thanks, Brenda! It's comforting to know that the best-selling novelist of 35 books still needs to replenish her creative well.
What about you, readers? What do you do to replenish yourself creatively or to get back in touch with your core self. Don't forget -- one commenter will receive a copy of WHITE HEAT and a White Heat Lip Gloss created especially for Brenda.