Overcoming Snags and Blocks. And a Few Updates

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

A favorite blog topic among writers is writer’s block.  I can’t imfile7521243186318agine how many articles I’ve seen on the topic…from the debate over whether it actually exists, to how to combat it if it does.

I believe that sometimes I’m experiencing more of writer’s hesitation than a writer’s block. My hesitation usually results from one of a couple of reasons.

One common reason for my hesitation is that my story has hit a snag of some kind.  I’m reluctant to work on the story because there’s something wrong with it.  Since I don’t allow myself to avoid writing, it means I have to immediately diagnose what’s wrong.  Usually I’m finding the scene boring or redundant in some way, or else I realize something is off with my character motivations.  During first drafts, I don’t fix problems.  So I flag the part in the story where I’ve realized things were going wrong, make a note of the change(s) that I’m making going forward, and pick up with the story as if the problem had been fixed in the previous pages.

The other common reason for my hesitation is that I need to hit the reset button with my writing life.  I’m very routine driven…I wake up, get ready, go downstairs, and start writing at about 5 a.m. If any part of this equation changes in the slightest (if it’s summer and no one is getting up early for school and I sleep a little later, if we have houseguests staying with us and I need to be quiet and write somewhere else, if someone is sick, if the school bells schedule changes), it has the ability to mess me up.  I know that makes the whole routine (and me?) appear very fragile, but it really can make a difference.  If the change is creating a problem, the sooner I figure out a workaround, the better I am. Should I go back to waking up at 4:30? Should I work on paper for a while?  Should I just outline in the morning and then leave the house altogether to write at the library or a coffeehouse later on?  The solution has been each of these things before.  Unless I stop the cycle, figure out what’s wrong, and brainstorm solutions, I either don’t hit my goals, I write sluggishly, or else the story comes out all wrong.

A few updates:

There are a few interesting things that I’ve noticed from my sales reports lately.  For one, sales are slightly down on all my platforms—this is pretty normal for me in late-summer, early-fall. I think part of this is that sales are down for most of us. Part of it is due to the fact that it’s a busy time of the year for me and I’m paying less attention to my sales. Whenever I pay less attention, sales fall because I don’t run any freebies or discounts since I’m not aware of the problem.  I should know this by now.  I’ve rectified the issue (once again).

Nook sales are way down.  Wow. By at least 25%.

What’s gone way up, though?  Bizarrely enough, my Amazon India sales.  I went from having no sales from India on Amazon to having about $180 from them in the last 30 days.  This stunned me at first, but once I thought it through, it made more sense.  I’ve done a couple of different things.  For one, I’m on Wattpad and my demographics map shows me that 11% of my readers on Wattpad are from India.  I put calls to action to buy the rest of my series at the end of each chapter. The other thing I did was to take Joanna Penn’s advice: I went into my KDP bookshelf, unchecked the box that said “Set IN price automatically based on US price” and instead put in 150 rupees, which is roughly the same as $2.27 US dollars.  When I had it based on my US price of $3.99 or $4.99, my books weren’t competitive in the Indian market.

Joanna also recommended unchecking the automatic pricing for other markets, Mexico and Brazil among them.  If we Google “Indian currency exchange rate,” (or Mexico, Brazil, etc.) a handy calculator comes up to help us out.

So…that’s got to be it. Wattpad and my pricing.  I’ve done nothing else.

In other news, I’m going to be at the NINC conference this Wednesday through Sunday in St. Pete Beach, FL.  I’ll be talking about Wattpad for writers and also cozy mysteries and how to introduce them to a broader audience. I’m also looking forward to Florida weather after an uncharacteristically gloomy last week in NC.

That’s what’s going on here with me.  What are you working on? Do you ever hit writer’s block or writer’s hesitation?  :)

Dealing with writer's block and Amazon India surprises: Click To Tweet
(Visited 39 times, 1 visits today)

40 thoughts on “Overcoming Snags and Blocks. And a Few Updates

  1. I like ‘writer’s hesitation ‘. Yah. And it is the same for me. I know that I procrastinate when I’m scared of something, like a tricky ending. Like right now -which should be write now! I couldve spent more time this weekend but instead made a doll. On the other hand, sometimes I find that it is good to mot push. Like a not in a fine chain, if I get too exerted, it will just become tighter. I have to slow way down and work it gently. How do I know if the writing needs pushing through or the gentle approach. I do not.

  2. I’m a creature of habit as well and stuff like that can throw me off. Never really had writer’s block though.
    Interesting about India. I still need to decide if I want to do Wattpad or not. Two other authors recently talked about how it made no difference in sales, but I know you do well with it.

    1. Alex–If you have a free funnel book *anyway*, I’d go ahead and throw a book up on Wattpad. You’ve got a series and are in good shape. For a writer with only one book, don’t put it up on Wattpad. To make Wattpad work, we can’t just broadcast on there either…we have to interact.

  3. I like that term, ‘writing hesitation,’ Elizabeth. It really describes it beautifully. And I’m with you – a routine is really important. So when it’s disrupted, that can interrupt writing. But then, one can always use that interruption and weave it into the story. Characters get their routines disrupted too…

  4. I’ve noticed that sales have really dipped in the past month. India is a big market though. I read that there are more people online in India than in the US.

    If I get stuck on a scene, I just jump ahead to the next one and play connect the dots later.

  5. Hi Elizabeth – interesting about the sales and Wattpad. Enjoy the Conference and change of life for a while – it helps give that start up button a change up. India is a huge market – so very good luck there.

    I can only write here .. but I’d give a change of venue and a tape recorder a go … I often think why isn’t my machine up and running ready for me to pick up and go with it …

    Have fun down south! Cheers Hilary

  6. Hmm, I don’t like the term writer’s block – I’ve never experienced it. But in those times when the writing isn’t flowing, I say I’m “mulching.” My subconscious is working even if I’m not physically doing anything. It makes me feel better, anyway…lol

  7. I love how methodical you are! That’s definitely a goal I am working towards, especially with breaking into new sales territory and tweaking things. I’m sadly lacking in those areas, and appreciate all these tips. Thanks, Elizabeth! Hope you still have the energy to hit BoucherCon at least one of the days. I’d love to meet you in person!

    1. Kathy–I feel like I just sometimes accidentally stumble into this stuff! I’m not nearly as thoughtful over it as Joanna is, but I do follow a tip well, ha!

      I’m still thinking Bouchercon over! I will need to do my laundry when I get back from NINC because everything conference-worthy will need a cleaning. :) Would love to meet you, too!

  8. I’m not routine driven. My writing is a hodge podge of whenever I have 15-20 minutes ti write. I think this helps keep things fresh as I never know where my mind will be when I write.

  9. I do not get writer’s block. I have no idea why. I just sit down every morning around 5:30 and write until 6:45. Weekends are longer. I write at night, too, just not that long since I’m mentally tired. Having said that sometimes I get stuck on a scene. If I do then I jump to the next.

    Have fun at the conference in FL

  10. Writer’s hesitation – so true! I love your advice about foreign pricing. I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere else. It would be so easy to feel intimidated by not knowing what a foreign sales market is like and just let Amazon price for you, when really, googling the conversion rate is just as simple and apparently much better for your sales. Thanks Elizabeth!

    1. Megan–It is *so* easy to check those boxes and that’s exactly what I did for years. When Joanna explained about how some markets just couldn’t/wouldn’t support paying a higher price, a light bulb went off! :)

  11. Oh, interesting detail on India pricing. You never think about local economies and how that should change how you price. I also know cozies are a novelty in India–they get most of their non-local books from British presses and in Britain there is no cozy category, so I bet you are filling a nice niche. I really need to check out Wattpad… (among many things)

      1. Joel–I think Hart means that cozies aren’t published there by the trade presses. I think I remember that to be true…UK and Canadian mystery writers querying US publishers. So could be that the books being stocked by retailers in India aren’t cozies…that they’re only available on Amazon. And if I price them right, then that could give me (is giving me?) an advantage.

          1. Joel–Honestly….they seem to be reading on Wattpad. If you’re on there, submit your book to their featured books list and see if you can get some reach there. Put a call to action at the end of each submitted chapter to remind them they can get the completed book/other books in the series at the Amazon link. And make the book less expensive in the Amazon IN store. Heck, now I’m even thinking I should link to Amazon India on my calls to action in addition to the Amazon US store…

            1. I may make a book close to free there (not sure how low Amazon lets me go with IN). Use that as a funnel for readers who aren’t on Wattpad.

              And I need to read and see what’s going on with Flipkart. I know it’s been in the news lately.

  12. Writer’s hesitation is a far more accurate word for it. I usually feel it when I don’t know where to go next, or if I have a difficult scene coming up. Outlining helps avoid it, but sometimes what I’ve planned isn’t working and I have to rethink it. That’s when the hesitation can come in.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  13. Great redefinition of writer’s block as “writer’s hesitation!”

    The best thing about it is it characterizes the position of the writer. It isn’t some abstract “disease” that we contract – it’s a doubtful state of mind, a creatively-weakened posture.

    And why do we hesitate? Because of a lack of confidence. We try to push forward into a story that isn’t working or inspiring. I urge writers to revisit their outlines, plans, and story foundations to find that new approach or nugget of narrative gold hidden within.

    And if all else fails, draft some juicy conflict. That always seems to get things moving.

  14. Hi. I like the term ‘multching’. I write more than one story (at different stages) at a time, since I figured out I hit the Writer’s Hesitation every time I hit about the last 100 pages of a story. This is more like Ending Hesitation. Now I have to tie the ends up hesitation. And I don’t want the story to end hesitation. Right now lately, I have the adorable, warm, fluffy kitty hesitation sitting in my lap purring and slowing writing down by about 75%! I am also trying to end a story, so that’s double hesitation at once.
    If I ‘can’t’ write, I can usually edit or outline, or do the creative figuring out what to do with the next story down the line…
    merry day and magic writing to you!

    1. Sara–Oh, gosh, I hate endings, too! I’m great with beginnings, but endings aren’t fun. I make a list of every loose end I can think up and brainstorm as many possibilities for endings as I can (even the ones that are far out in left field go on the list…asteroid hits the town.) It can sometimes help. :)

Comments are closed.