Top 5 Kinds Of Work To Do When You Can’t Bring Yourself To Write

humerus top

This is the top of a humerus. I have ArtRage studio and Sketchbook on my laptop, and I use Gimp to build lettering on my covers. I looked into Photoshop, but most of my effects are painted in, and my programs already perform adequately for what I’m doing. Cover design, you know, is one of the things to work on when you hit a brick wall of shouldn’t-be-writing-just-now.

What? Shouldn’t You Write All The Time, No Matter What?

Ninety-eight percent of the time, yes. But in that other two percent, your insides and your writing instrument are going through genuinely formative changes, and overextending yourself can result in long-lasting damage. Imagine that writing is mental gymnastics; if a gymnast suffers a knee injury, staying off the high and dangerous beams is prudent until the injury is healed.

Victor, How Can A Writer’s Brain Get Injured?

Most often, previous abuse is revealed and then begins to process in the act of writing. Almost all of the time, healing is aided by continuing to write. But some small fragment of the time, the damage revealed is so deep, so old, and so ugly that all you can do is be kind to yourself and let all your standards go until the process is over. And that means not pushing yourself as rigorously as usual, in terms of word-counts.

It’s Also Like Trying To Drive A Car That Is Still Disassembled In The Shop

There are a lot of gentler manners of work that can be done without harming your instrument during these times; let’s look at five of them right now.

1. Outline New Novels, Or Deepen Existing Outlines

Daydreaming is about the gentlest kind of writing work that can be done; organized daydreaming, in the form of outlining, is both productive and healing. This is the perfect time to investigate different forms of outlining that other writers use, and appropriate bits and pieces that suit your process. I am using an altered version of the Snowflake method on my books lately.

2. Study Marketing And Build Your Sales Copy

All authors, whether aiming for traditional or indie success, must market, and I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know anything about it when I started two years ago. (I’m improving at a moderate pace.) IttyBiz is my favorite marketing site, and Noami Dunford is holding a sale on her materials until next Tuesday.

Marketing is not easy for me, but it does not require the same draining muscular (metaphorically) effort that writing does. A writing hiatus is the perfect time to build your marketing skills.

3. Build Cover Concepts

Choosing fonts, designing lighting, and experimenting with color palettes are all useful tasks that can be performed on a writing break. Artsy skills don’t use any of the parts of self that are needed for writing, and learning new text effects or studying tool tutorials will make cover creation much smoother for you throughout your writing career (unless you’re paying for covers, in which case, having a concept and color scheme still helps).

4. Study Your Target Market

Nothing can suck an author’s time like browsing the covers, blurbs, and look-insides of successful books. It is, however, a good idea to delve into the market from time to time, not only to see what is selling, and how it is packaged, but to look over the reader reviews. Studying what people liked or hated about successful books can give you a clear idea of what may be working well or missing in your books.

5. Develop Strong Blurbs

Again, writing blurbs is not quite the same as writing stories. Blurbs are essentially sales copy married to click-bait, and writing effective blurbs is a skill that takes time, effort, and study.

A fun exercise is to take five or six blurbs from a best-seller list and adapt them to your own story. Don’t use these for anything but learning, obviously. Studying successful blurbs helps you learn how to write your own amazing blurbs.

When You’ve Given Yourself A Break, Build Up To Your Previous Quota Gradually

If you ever find yourself taking a rest from writing, don’t jump into working again with the expectation that you’ll perform at the peak of your word-count. Start small, and build up to what you were doing before.

You’re reading Victor Poole; my books are here. I painted my house last weekend. You will probably like my coming-soon book, which has dragons in it.

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