Art Holcomb on Writer’s Block

A quick overview from your Storyfix host, and then, an opportunity to listen in via teleseminar as Art delivers an effective and perspective and an empowering solution to writer’s block.

Art’s teleseminars are career-changing events, by the way. Life changing, even. This will his fifth so far, all of them worth every cent and every minute (which, because they are pure audio, can happen in your car, as you sit in front of your computer doing needlepoint… however you like to listen and learn).

This new one is 45 minutes of pure Art Holcomb goodness on the pure hell of writer’s block.

But first, my theory on Writers Block:

You’ve fallen out of love with your story.

You’ve engaged, but then your story got argumentative. It didn’t do what you wanted it to do. It came up short of your hopes and expectations. And now it is stubborn, just sitting there waiting for you to do something about it.

That puts you in that completely frustrating space – what we call writer’s block – which sucks no matter how you explain getting there. My theory aligns with what Art discusses under #2 below, perhaps explained by #3, leading to #1 and then, without a solution, to #4.

Writer’s block can actually be a blessing… if you can get beyond the sticking point. The very fact of being blocked says something positive (while also saying something that needs attention) about your story sensibility… it’s not working (either the story or your story sense), and so you stop.  Perhaps a good thing.  Much better to wait it out, to pound it out – using that same story sensibility to arrive at a better plan – than say “screw it” and finish and submit something that doesn’t work as well as it should.

Here’s Art on the basis of this exciting new teleseminar:

I’ve (Art) broken the notion of writer’s block down into four phases and parts, each of which gets you stuck, all of which need consideration as you work your way through it toward a better storytelling place.

  1. Fear– Which, no matter how you break it down, comes back to the fear of being judged.  Something that is ingrained into or psyche since we were children. I talk about the Life of an Artist and give examples from Stephen King to Pablo Picasso. I discuss the difference between the writer and the writing. Dealing with this fear is a major reason I do The Trainings, where the students write and then submit—and keep submitting—until the piece is fully in place. Only through knowing what such scrutiny feels like will a writer abate their fears.
  1. Weak Premise– Lack of a powerful premise means that there isn’t enough raw grist that creates the necessary compulsion to carry the writer through Act II, at which point the story fails. This is the major reason we all have half-finished works in our desk drawers. I created the “Ten Steps to Building a Better Story” seminar (one of my four previous presentations) to directly address this. It forces the writer to deeply examine the elements of the premise and tighten/strengthen the idea… or choose to discard it and look for something deeper. This is consistently reviewed as one of the most important techniques I teach.
  1. Lack of Craft– If you don’t have the skills, you cannot write a good story. Craft is the basis of what we do. We know what Craft means to a writer. I will show you why and how to move toward craft, which is out there. Not everything you hear about craft is completely focused and clear, and not everything will appeal to your sensibilities. Which is why we need to immerse ourselves in it, to find and latch onto the version of it that speaks to us as individual creative professionals.
  1. The “Thing”– I discovered this late in my teaching career. Soooo many would be writers start out wrong and got the steps to building a career jumbled, and then did something (the Thing) before they were ready: submitted a weak script that went nowhere. And so they rush to find an agent, which may resulting in hearing back from someone was blunt about the quality of their work… and so they quit.  I even had a very successful novelist (6 books, hundred of shorts stories) who had his agent die in the middle of his career – and never was able to get back on track – and so he quit.

There are so many paths to finding ourselves stuck.

Whatever the event is, some writers never really talk to anyone about it and never found a way to get back on the horse. A couple of sessions with me and I can usually get them back on track, but it’s all talk therapy. I can usually get a writer and the story back in place, with motivation restored and sky high, by the third one-on-one call. (One-on-one work is an option, especially if you hear something in the teleseminar that rings true… which I guarantee that you will.)

The workbook that comes with the teleseminar is a series of exercises to use to dig down to underlying causes of writer’s block, which makes the case for more education (with me or someone else) and ways to dissipate fears. This workbook is approximately 10 pages, and is part of what you pay for when you opt-in.

My teleseminars—especially this one—will be interesting to writers who have experienced writer’s block, as well as the writer who fears it’s just a matter of time before they’re affected by it. Those effects can range from debilitating to devastating and, sadly, there is usually no external cause. The alpha and omega of the problem resides within them.

That’s why I created the course.

TITLE:  How to Defeat Writer’s Block – FOREVER!

PRICE: $37


INSTRUCTIONS:  Payment instructions (either through PayPal or by check) are included at the bottom of the website page. There is no cart or automated fulfillment site. It’s just me and you, working on this together.

Hot new novel recommendation:

A really intriguing mystery/thriller in the tradition of Michael Connelly was recommended to me (a vivid Los Angeles setting, a take-no-crap detective that harkens the likes of Harry Bosch), and it turned out way better than I expected.

It’s called By Reason of Insanity, by new indie author MGM Meddis.

The book pits a morally-incorruptible reluctant hero LAPD detective—he’s not nearly as archetypical as this makes him sound—against a femme fatale (same disclaimer) who seems to get off on walking a thin line between seduction and self-incrimination, a dance in which hubris is always the undoing of the perp. The narrative includes the villain basically spilling it all to her prison psychiatrist, which plays against an evolving dramatic real-time thread that begins with the calmly executed shooting of her scoundrel husband and extends to the detective who must unravel her labyrinthine scheme to get away with it all, while resisting her considerable seductive charms.

I’m thinking this one will make one heckuva film, so grab it now and start casting it in your mind. My money’s on Ryan Gosling and either Emma Stone or Mila Kunis, with J.K. Simmons as the long-suffering LAPD Lieutenant who has to keep his thoroughbred investigator in check; this supports my contention that when we cast our stories with actors who fit, this keeps us in the right lane as we develop our characters… if you can’t hear that actor saying those lines, the dialogue needs an upgrade.

You’ll like the writing, too. That’s why I’m recommending it here.

Available on in Kindle and paperback.


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Filed under Write better (tips and techniques)

2 Responses to Art Holcomb on Writer’s Block

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