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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Guest Post: Writers block by Anderson O'Donnell, author of Kingdom!


Please help me welcome author Anderson O'Donnell talking about writers block! :)

Writing can be a liberating and spiritual experience, an exercise so powerful that its practitioners are, on occasion, able to enter into a trance-like state similar to those moments of religious ecstasy reported by monks and shamans across the globe.  

It can also suck.

And when it continues to suck for days and even weeks on end, writers are often tempted to blame our inability to reach that “flow” state on everyone’s favorite scapegoat, “writer’s block.”

But does writer’s block really exist? And, perhaps more importantly, how can it be overcome?

Professional Validation?

On one level, writer’s block is bullshit. I’m not trying to suggest writer’s block doesn’t exist. If William Gibson says he’s had writer’s block, then, as far as I’m concerned, case closed. But the definition needs to be a narrowed a bit.

I suspect that, for some, writer’s block is form of professional validation; after all, one cannot have writer’s block unless one is a writer. There are a few writers who take comfort in heading down to the coffee house and bitching about having writer’s block. I’ve met this kind of person—they like the idea of being a writer more than actually writing, and the way they inadvertently trivialize the writing process is frustrating. Writer’s block isn’t a badge or a battle scar—those are called rejection letters and bad reviews.

There is also the cruel reality that some people are having a hard time writing or coming up with passable ideas because, in the end, they just aren’t cut out to be writers. For example, if I tried out for the NHL’s Washington Capitals, I couldn’t attribute my atrocious puck-handling skills to “hockey player” block; rather, I wouldn’t make the team because, as far as hockey goes, I’m a rank amateur.

But what about the professional writers—the literary craftsmen and master storytellers—who claim to have experienced writer’s block? Clearly, sometimes writers, even the best of us, freeze up. The question is, why?

Masochistic Insanity

I believe the answer is perhaps a bit simpler that we suspect: writing is a brutal gig, and demands a certain level of masochistic insanity. The failure rate is spectacularly high; most of the time, writers fail, or at least fall short of their goals—at least during the first draft of a manuscript. Which, of course, is why writers draft, and then edit ad nauseam. 

But I also think that some of the frustration is necessary: when writers finally do discover that and wonderful ecstasy of entering the “flow” state, the experience is that much more intense. If I could just plop down at my keyboard and start churning out Shakespeare, those moments of sheer immersion in the process (and triumph at the outcome) would be lessened.

Overcoming Write’s Block

My writing habits have been shaped and sharpened by advice I’ve received from fellow writers, so I wanted to share a few of the techniques I’ve used to overcome my own frustrations with the writing process:
·        Write consistently. I’ve found five or six days a week to be ideal, but you can’t set impossible goals; if you’ve gotta work a double shift on Friday, maybe that’s the day you take off from writing. But the important thing is to be consistent: try to write in the same place, at the same time, as often as possible. Eventually, your brain begins to recognize the pattern: for instance, when I go to the basement at 5am, sit in my writing chair, and turn on the music, something clicks—its time to write.
·        Read consistently. As Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” It’s just that simple.
·        Talk a walk. And I don’t mean exercise; this is more of a midnight ramble without an iPhone or an iPod or fitness goals, etc. It’s just you and your thoughts, drifting under the stars. Helps keep things in perspective, while calming the mind.
·        Talk it out. Find a friend who will put up with your rambling and let it fly; tell him or her where you’re stuck, what the plot issues are, etc. Have a drink and kick some ideas back and forth. I’ve had some amazing breakthroughs thanks to this technique. Plus, its also good to see other people, something writers tend to forget.



In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project--codename "Exodus"--has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.
Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation's collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.
In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead--an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.
And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution....closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus--and one man's dark vision for the future of mankind.
Welcome to Tiber City.

FROM THE BACK COVER:

Kingdom is a thrill-a-minute, bio-punk myth that manages to wrestle with the most pressing issues of the new millennium. O'Donnell has crafted a kickass novel of tomorrow night, when the big party gets raided by the monsters we've been building for the last half-century. Hip and hellish, wild and weird, Tiber City is the dystopian megalopolis into which we will all soon move--whether we know it or not.

Purchase: 

REVIEW BLURBS -

"A taut, brilliantly conceived thriller with impeccable pacing bursting with ideas...For fans of noir-laden science fiction in the vein of Philip K. Dick that is in equal measures suspenseful, gripping, darkly funny and philosophically challenging." (starred review)
-Kirkus Reviews
"Toss William Gibson, Andrew Vachss and David Fincher into the Petri dish, irradiate them, then infuse the result with Transylvanian meth, and you'll have some sense of what O'Donnell has concocted."

-Jack O'Connell, author of Box Nine and The Resurrectionist
.

"There simply aren't enough stars to communicate the impressiveness of O'Donnell's work here. He has taken religion, science, politics, theory and philosophy and blended them all together to create what is easily one of the most important books to come out this year."

- Pavarti K. Tyler, Fighting Monkey Press & author of Shadow on the Wall

Anderson O’Donnell presents a biopunk, dystopian noir-esque thriller in this amazing read, KINGDOM. Most people are familiar with the term “cyberpunk,” but “biopunk” is harder to nail down. In many ways, biopunk is similar to the cyberpunk genre, and shares many of the same themes and archetypes: the dystopian future; the overreliance on technology; mega-corporations; a constant and overwhelming flow of data; the anti-hero—these elements are integral parts of both genres.

Both genres are fueled, to some extent, by the sense of rebellion and desire for individual freedom expressed by the original punk rock revolution. But the main difference—the most important difference—is that while cyberpunk focuses on invasive technological modification of the human body, biopunk explores the dehumanizing consequences of biological modification, of re-arranging our DNA in the pursuit of perfection.

Anderson lives in Connecticut with his wife and 2 sons. Anderson himself deems Kingdom as “a thrill-a-minute, bio-punk myth that manages to wrestle with the most pressing issues of the new millennium. O’Donnell has crafted a kickass novel of tomorrow night, when the big party gets raided by the monsters we’ve been building for the last half-century.”

His debut novel, Kingdom, a dystopian, biopunk thriller, is now available in paperback and ebook format. Kingdom is the first part of the Tiber City Trilogy. Look for part two, Exile, in the summer of 2013.



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