By Linda Skeers
You’ve been writing and revising until your brain cells are sizzling. It’s time for a short break to give yourself a chance to recharge.
But what can you do?
Curl up with a cold beverage, bowl of hot buttered popcorn, and watch a movie about… writers! Hey – peeking into the lives of other writers, their craft, and trials and tribulations are almost a kind of research, right?
Here’s a list to get you started on your cinematic journey!
FINDING FORRESTER (2000) – novelist William Forrester mentors a high school basketball player with a passion for writing.
STRANGER THAN FICTION (2006) – how does a novelist kill off their main character when that character doesn’t want to die?
AUTHORS ANONYMOUS (2014) – a hilarious look at a writer’s critique group. You’ve all been in a group with some of these characters…
Writers with a touch of romance:
ROMANCING THE STONE (1984)
THE JEWEL OF THE NILE (sequel 1985)
THE BOYFRIEND SCHOOL (1990)
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998)
Writer’s block and ethical/moral dilemmas:
WONDER BOYS (2000)
THE WORDS (2012)
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (2018)
Based on real writers
FINDING NEVERLAND (2004)
MISS POTTER (2006)
BECOMING JANE (2007)
On the spooky and suspenseful side:
THE SHINING (1980)
SECRET WINDOW (2004)
THE GHOST WRITER (2010)
Put your favorite movie about writing or writers in the comment section!
By Stephanie Bearce
Burnout is REAL!!
I just finished some tight deadlines and got both good and bad publishing news. My brain was fried. I had no desire to write ANYTHING! EVER!
Have you had days like this??
Where you question your writing career, wonder if you should give it all up and become a greeter at Walmart?
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) I've been in this place before. All the creative energy was gone and no idea of what to do next.
This is when I know it's time for some fallow ground.
Fallow ground is soil that is left unplanted to rest and regenerate. Farmers have used this technique for centuries to enrich and renew the earth. It's something we humans can emulate by leaving time to be fallow. To rest and rejuvenate.
Creativity takes fertile soil. It needs to be rich in ideas and full of life-giving energy. If we keep working, the energy of our brain becomes as depleted as overused soil. We all need to have fallow time.
For me, fallow time means reading, sewing monsters, cleaning closets, and watching favorite old movies. Often it involves Jane Austen, Madeline L'Engle, Dorothy Sayers, and Elizabeth Peters.
Sometimes it just takes a few days. This time it took FOUR WEEKS! But now, the ideas are flowing again. I'm excited to tackle some new projects. I WANT to WRITE again!!
I know I'm lucky. My fallow times are not years, but weeks. However, I think this is because, like the farmers I grew up with, I know that I NEED fallow ground. I give myself permission to just be. It's what my brain and my soul need. Please, give yourself permission to enjoy some fallow ground.
And to celebrate fallow time - I'm giving away four of my "monsters". Leave a comment below that tells about your brain burnout or fallow time. You will be entered to win a sweet little idea monster to help you with your newest project!
By Stephanie Bearce
I had just finished the 13th round of revisions on my manuscript. It was spit-shined and perfectly polished. The topic was unique. I'd done months of research. This story was sure to sell. I opened up my email ready to send the manuscript to my amazing agent, and there was a note from fellow Ninja Chick, Susie Kralovansky.
DID YOU SEE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT?
There in Publisher's Weekly was an announcement for the sale of my story.
Exact same topic. Even the same title!
But not written by me.
I'd been scooped.
Was there some devious plot to hack my computer and steal my ideas?
Did some evil writer read my drafts and take my work?
Was I the victim of a good topic and poor timing on my part?
Anyone who has been in the nonfiction business for more than half a second has experienced the "Stolen Idea" phenomenon. Nonfiction writers are avid readers and researchers. We are always looking for a new topic, a new take on a holiday, critical anniversaries, and hidden gems of stories. It's like the California gold rush for nonfiction stories. And exactly like the gold prospectors, there will be winners and losers in the story mining business, too.
But simply because another author beat you to the editor's desk doesn't mean it's over for your story. There are a few tricks you can try.
1. Change the target age of your manuscript. Is there a need for a middle-grade manuscript on the topic? Change that PB into an MG proposal. Or vice-versa!
2. Try a different format. Could you change it into a graphic novel? Could you turn it into a collection by adding similar stories?
3. Change the focus of the manuscript. If you are writing a biography of a famous person, try focusing on an unknown aspect of their life.
4. Set it aside for a while. This does not mean giving up on the story. Simply give your story some time and space. You may come back at it with a totally new perspective or you may find a unique way to use your research and hard work.
Most importantly, don't get discouraged. There are more stories waiting to be discovered. Get busy digging!!
By Nancy Churnin
After publishing 10 nonfiction picture books, my first co-authored book, WHEN MAMA RINGS THE BELL, will come out in Fall 2023, co-authored with Shayna Vincent, for Albert Whitman & Company.
When should you co-author a book rather than be the solo author?
Often, being the solo author is the only option. My first ten books, all picture book biographies, were about people who are not alive. Not much of an opportunity for collaboration there beyond what I could conjure with research and my imagination!
But one doesn’t always co-author with a living subject. The decision to do so is subjective. Here are some factors to consider:
1.Does the subject want to play an active role in telling his or her own story? Some subjects or sources might want to leave it all to you. Others may have strong feelings about making sure their voice is not only heard, but acknowledged in the author credits.
2.Would you be appropriating someone else’s culture or experience by telling their story without them? One of the best way to ensure that you are respecting someone’s culture or experience is to partner with them in telling the story.
3.Would it be more rewarding for you, spiritually, to join voices with someone else?
For me, this third consideration was the deciding factor, although the second factor was important, too. WHEN MAMA RINGS THE BELL is inspired by Shayna Vincent’s experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer as a young mother in her thirties. It is told from the point of view of one of her young daughters.
Shayna didn’t ask to be a co-author when I approached her about telling her story. But as I worked on the manuscript, using her words, her experience, her feelings, her details, it was clear to me that the best story would emerge from our full collaboration. With regard to the third factor, it felt right spiritually to meld our words. With regard to the second factor, it felt right, morally, for her to have the credit she deserved by getting full credit for sharing the story that she wished she had for her daughters when she was diagnosed and would now help others.
Shayna lived the story we were writing. Not only did that merit credit as a co-author, but one of the added benefits was that as a full co-author, Shayna could be an even more powerful spokeswoman for families dealing with cancer and other serious medical conditions.
This is my first co-authored book, but it has been an incredibly rewarding and uplifting experience. I hope to do more.
Nonfiction Ninja Chick Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of 10 picture book biographies. When Mama Rings the Bell, co-authored with Shayna Vincent, is one of her three new books scheduled to be released in Fall 2023. It will be published by Albert Whitman & Company
We are nonfiction authors who support readers and writers through our writing, author visits, and workshops.
Disclaimer: The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas . The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.