Breaking through writer’s block as I work on my novel, ‘Randy and Rhonda’

For me as a writer, it is very frustrating to have writer’s block. You have a great idea, write scores of pages and then hit a slump where you don’t know what happens next.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft, tells of having to take a hiatus from his epic novel The Stand because he had accidentally twisted together several plot lines and didn’t know what happened next.

I am working on several fictional works, and last night I wrote about 1,000 words on my novel Randy and Rhonda. Here is what I can say: it is a Christian love story that has some frank discussions about sex and how many Christians do not know what “True Christianity” is. As I have written about 30 pages, I hit a snag.

And as I thought, I realized I could write this novel the way so many movies are made: out of sequence.

James Cameron said in an interview that the opening scene in The Terminator was actually one of the last scenes he filmed. It’s been said that John Dugan, who played Grandpa in the 1974 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, disliked so much the process of wearing make-up to look like an old man that he requested both of his scenes be filmed back-to-back, even though they don’t take place until about halfway in the film and then towards the end. Though it reportedly took about 36 straight hours, his request was granted.

As I thought about this, I wondered, why not do the same thing in novel writing? 

So, last night I wrote several chapters ahead. I may also continue doing this as I try to work out my current snag. My plan is that as I piece later parts of the puzzle together, I will have a better idea how to write the current part where I am struggling.

We’ll see what happens.

Richard Zowie is a writer. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

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Deciding whether to terminate a ‘free’ client

I recently blogged about this topic, so I’ll try to keep this “revisit” brief.

My wife and executive editor, Jennifer, is a firm believer in my writing career. One thing, however, she has very strongly encouraged me to do is limit the number of “free” clients I have.

In my career, I’ve written for free for several publications. My column, From A to Zowie (originally titled My Two Cents and then Richard’s Ramblings), has appeared for free in the Beeville Bee-Picayune since 2001. My Christian issues column, Richard’s Two Shekels (originally My Two Shekels) has appeared for free in the San Antonio Christian Beacon, Saworship.com and the Olive Branch Press. I’ve also blogged for free or for next to nothing at several locations.

There is one client, whom I will not name, that I am about to end my relationship with. It’s been one where my name and my blog–when I do blog–get posted on the website of one of a daily metro newspaper. The publisher of the blog talks frequently about, sure, he can’t pay bloggers any money, but bloggers who write without charge will get offered paying writing assignments from interested clients who read their postings.

In the year I’ve written postings for this client, you know how many paid assignments I’ve been offered?

Zero.

I’m not the best writer out there, but I think I’m a darned good one. On many occasions my writing has resulted in freelance checks that have paid for rent, electric bills, propane, auto repairs and groceries.

What also disgusts me about the website is that it’s supposed to be geared toward a certain genre of writing, but more often than not the blog postings that generate the most attention are the ones that focus on sex: the prettiest women in this region, the nicest breasts in this region, and so on.

Sigh.

It’s as annoying as the auto magazines that show on their covers near-nude double-D-cup women with erection-inducing bikinis and five-inch high heels.

So, I am starting to believe it is no longer in my best interest to keep blogging for this client.

Richard Zowie tries to stay busy in his writing life and believes it’s far better to be busy than unemployed. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.