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Monday, January 24, 2011

I don't believe in writer's block; I do believe in school visits

It's true!

This past Friday I finished one of the best weeks of the past year because I met with five different groups of students in the course of an evening and a day. On Thursday I went to Irving, Texas to hang out with the students at Java Makes Me Jump, a regular event held by the Irving ISD at the Barnes and Noble. That was a fantastic time-- I presented on writing manga and how it compared to writing books and American comics, and of course showed off the ARC for Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead.

Then Friday I presented to sixth and seventh graders in Frisco, Texas at Clark and Scoggins Middle Schools. My school presentation is a powerpoint that goes into the whole process of launching a YA series, from the initial idea and pitch through the finished product. I use lots of art and fun examples like showing early versions of the Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising cover compared with the final. We usually round it out with Q&A, and I encourage the students to, if they can't think of anything else, just try to stump me with vampire questions.

They do try. Some of thge questions really are tough: "Which came first, zombies or vampires?" (Answer: it all depends.)

And one of the questions, from a young writer, was how to deal with writer's block, and in particular she meant, what do you do when you're halfway through your project and suddenly feel stuck, like you can't move on. What do you do, she implored. WHAT DO YOU DO?

Great question. Actually what you do here is deviate from your plan, most likely. Most likely you've stopped because you're bored and you need to be excited again. So deviate. Put a character you're tired of in a coma. Have the bad guys catch wind of the hero's plan ahead of schedule and drop a house on them. Anything. Deviate and move on.

I don't believe in writer's block except that I believe it is a manifestation of boredom, of being disappointed in what you chose. So choose differently, and get the dang first draft done.


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