I don’t believe in writer’s block. un curso de milagros (I can hear the gasps of disbelief already.) Listen: If you hire a plumber to come to your house and fix a problem, do you expect him to say, “Sorry, I can’t figure out what your problem is. I think I have plumber’s block”? Probably not, and if he did, you’d toss him out and call another guy faster than you can say Drano. Not that plumbing can be compared to writing, but if we follow the proper steps to get the job done,
I find that writer’s block melts away, the drains are unclogged, and the words start flowing like water from a faucet. But what are these “steps”? Well, a big part of my job as a book marketing specialist is to help people create something they can actually market: a finished book. Many of us have ideas aplenty but not a clue how to get them down on paper.
Unlike other professions, authors operate under a whole different set of rules. We often can’t just sit down and pound out a story, and those who do have created their own formula for doing so. We see this huge story with all sorts of directions we want to take it, we see the cover, we see the characters, we see the market potential. Then we see Katie Couric or Oprah smiling and holding up our book for the whole world to see.
Then we glance back down at our monitor and see a tormenting blinking cursor and blank screen. And we are again reminded of what a failure we are. We have all these stories and nothing on paper. We are idea generators. We have zillions of them running through our minds, but none of them on paper. Unless you make your money in a think tank, operating this way probably isn’t getting you any closer to your goals.
When a project looms before us, it’s like this big elephant — huge, overwhelming and ready to stomp us flat any minute. There’s an old saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The same is true for writing. You finish a book, one step at a time. But to create these steps, you first have to break down your book into manageable, bite-size pieces. This can be accomplished by creating a TOC (table of contents) that can guide you through the book.
My reasoning behind this is as follows: You’d never think of driving from California to New York without a map, right? Well, how can you expect to finish your book without one? Your TOC is your roadmap, guiding you through your book. If your chapters don’t have individual headings, then write a 2-3 sentence description of what the chapter encompasses. Don’t get too elaborate on this. Remember, it’s not going in your book; it’s just a brief descriptor. Once the TOC is outlined, you’ll have a vision of your book from start to finish.