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Writer's Block/Writer's block

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Question
I am 20 years old and have loved writing since I was in elementary school. I always found myself writing short stories and poems. In my teens I mostly wrote poems and songs. Recently, I've been trying to start on an actual novel length story. I am great at character development, but I have so much trouble thinking of a general plot that isn't generic or unoriginal like a lot of the teen or adult novels out there. I want to write about real life situations. I just fear that what I write may be exciting to me, but boring to others. I have scenes and ideas for characters in my head, but cannot combine them all to figure out what I really want my writing to be about. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

Answer
Leah, thanks for writing to me with this problem. Here are my thoughts and suggestions: write your "boring" story. By that, I mean, write your real life stories first. At the end, you may decide that this fits into the literary fiction genre. No plot or who-dun-it, but a journey in the day of characters we like to hang out with. Or, you may decide, like decorating and fashion, the story could use a punch of color or twist to the tale. You can add that afterwards. Think about how you might add  belt or accessory to your outfit. You dress first, add accessories last.

So, write the bones of your book, then add the details that draw us in and help us picture your characters. Those details may help you discover what your writing is about. Is the character a stereotype but with quirks? An outdoorsy guy who loves manicures? Where did this interest come from?  Well, you get the point.

If writing a novel seems a daunting task, create chapter heading titles and work on each one, just as you've done with short stories. I'll bet you'll put it together just fine!

I hope my response encourages you to keep writing. If you have another question, feel free to ask.

Dr B

Patricia Brawley, PhD

Writer's Block

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Patricia Brawley, PhD

Expertise

EXPERTISE: I work with people who have an idea not expressed yet, commonly called a writer's block. I can help you find the feeling and words to get you back on track with your writing. If being stuck is a general theme in your life, I offer personal coaching. I do not edit or critique your writing.

Experience

I am a licensed independent professional counselor, coach, and consultant. I have experience leading writing groups and mentoring writers. I am the author of published short stories and poems, winning awards in each category. I frequently attend writing conferences and participate in an organized writing association. I speak at conferences about topics related to personal growth, mental health topics, and existential living. I have presented original research in Japan, Canada, Italy, Finland, Russia, and across the United States. I have a PhD in Psychology which serves me well to work with the way habits and beliefs interfere or motivate us to succeed. I also am a university level professor and often help people summarize, clarify, and articulate their ideas. Needless to say, I am an avid reader.

Organizations
American Psychological Association American Counseling Association Gulf South Writers Association Mississippi Counseling Association Mississippi Psychological Association

Publications
The Compass - a newsletter for Counselors The Magnolia Quarterly

Education/Credentials
PhD - Psychology - Saybrook University, San Francisco,CA M.S. - Counseling Psychology - University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS B.S. - Social and Rehabilitation Counseling - University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS Over 1,000 hours continuing education hours.

Awards and Honors
1st Place - 2011 - Poetry - "Hurricane Point" 1stPlace - 2009 - Short Story - "The Earring"

Past/Present Clients
confidential

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