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   A few months ago, I started to notice that I was becoming numb.  I don’t mean physically numb, but rather, emotionally.  Although mentally and intellectually, I knew I should be feeling certain things, those feelings just weren’t present.  I felt disconnected instead, like someone had flipped my emotion switch to the off position.  It wasn’t the first time this had happened, but I was usually in a bad place when it happened in the past.

     I’ve made quite a few changes in my life over the last three years and it has not always been easy, but the struggle has been well worth it.  After several setbacks in my journey through life, I’ve finally gotten myself back on track and have made great strides, especially in the last year.  So I should be happy; things are looking up now.  While I am not unhappy, I am not happy either; I’m simply, unfulfilled.  Why?  Because I am an impatient person and I focus more on the target that has yet to be reached, rather than the progress that has been made towards reaching that target.  Where most people are encouraged when their dreams begin to take focus over the horizon, just beyond their reach, I become disheartened because I can’t reach out and grab them.

     Knowing this about myself, I have been striving to learn to be more patient, to appreciate the journey that will eventually get me to my destination, to stop and smell the roses once in a while.  I’ve always tried to focus on the positive in any situation, but impatience superseded positivity every time.  I think it is this constant struggle that finally “broke” me and left me in an emotional limbo, unable to feel anything at all.  

     With this numbness, came the inability to write.  I wanted to write more than anything, but I would just sit there, staring at the words on my screen, unable to connect with them.  Looking for a trigger, I tried everything I could think of to evoke some emotion.  I watched movies and listened to music, but nothing seemed to help.


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   And then something happened.  I’m not quite sure what the catalyst was, but I felt something, other than numbness.  It was like a dam bursting.  Everything that had been bottled up for months, now flowing so freely and fiercely, that it couldn’t be ignored; my emotions so open and raw, changing so fast, I felt like I might be bipolar.

     In the midst of all this renewed emotion, I came across someone, that for some inexplicable reason, arouses within me a feeling of inspiration.  I don’t know this person personally, although, I see them from time to time.  It’s an odd feeling, having a complete stranger be your muse.  On the one hand, you want to get to know them, but on the other, fear of breaking the spell makes you keep your distance.  After this brief encounter, I walked away feeling the urge to write.  I didn’t have any idea what I would write, I just had the feeling that I needed to get back to work.

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     The next day, I woke up and even though my immediate reaction was to close my eyes and go back to sleep, I had too many ideas running through my head.  Grabbing my idea book, I started jotting them down.  The next thing I knew, an hour had passed and I’d written several pages.  Am I writing steadily again?  Not quite, but the fact that I am writing at all is a good feeling.  So to whatever brought down the dam blocking my emotions and to my living, breathing muse, thank you for making me feel again.


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   I love to write.  The feeling you get when you see your story come together, your world take shape and your characters come to life is incomparable.  So why is it that lately, I find myself procrastinating?

     This past weekend, I took my own advice and stopped making excuses.  Finally getting some real work done on the edit of my first novel, I managed to get through three chapters in one day.  That may not sound impressive, but it’s more than I have written in quite some time.

     Despite the fact that I am in the midst of a highly time consuming project at work, my goal has been to continue working on the edit every night, riding on the momentum I built up over the weekend.  Since I enjoy writing, that shouldn’t be too hard, right?  Wrong.

     Here’s the problem:

     During the day, my job is so time consuming right now that I barely have time to run to the bathroom or grab lunch.  When I get home, I need to make dinner and I make a point of sitting with my kids, going over their day, getting updates on school, etc…  Then, I head upstairs to my sanctuary and this is where things go awry.  

     Full of intent, I grab my Mac to get to work and always find some way to get so distracted that I almost forget to write.  There are emails to be read, social media sites to catch up on now that I don’t have the time during the day, research to do; you get the picture.  Then of course, there is the fact that extreme quiet unnerves me, so I turn the television on and get caught up in what I’m watching or I put music on and get so into singing along with it, that what I’m reading/writing isn’t sticking and I end up going over and over the same thing and I don’t make any real progress.

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     I know, I know, excuses.  I end up procrastinating so much that by the time I focus and get back to the writing, I’m so wiped out that I’m passing out on my keyboard.  Nevertheless, I keep trying.  One day I’ll find a cure for my procrastination, but today isn’t that day.

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     I’ve been doing this writing thing just long enough to notice that any time I encounter another writer for the first time, aside from the usual bio info exchanged, the most common question is, “What genre do you write?”  After a few of these exchanges, I quickly realized that I didn’t know the different genres as well as I thought I did. offers a nice concise list and brief definition of the different genres currently defined*.     

Nonfiction Genres


     Factual writing.  Writings that convey factual information and are not primarily works of the creative imagination.

Example: History of The American Economy (textbook)

Narrative Nonfiction

     Also referred to as creative nonfiction, literary journalism and fact based story telling, adapting some of the features of fiction (creating a narrative persona, setting scenes, presenting interesting characters, creating the look and feel of a setting, telling a story) to the purposes of journalism.

Example: Prince Harry Ending US Visit With Conn Polo Match (news article)


     Short nonfiction prose piece; an short analytic, descriptive or interpretive piece of literary or journalistic prose dealing with a specific topic, especially from a personal and unsystematic viewpoint.

Example: Boyhood Dream Came True A Czech Taxidermists Success Story (Photo Essay)


     An account of somebody’s life written or produced by another person

Example: Audrey In Rome (Audrey Hepburn’s life story as told by Lucca Dotti, Ludovica Damiani and Sciascia Gambaccini)


     An account of somebody’s life written by that person

ExampleMy Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor’s life story as told by Sonia Sotomayor)


     The ability to speak.  The act of communicating by speaking

ExampleThe Gettysburg Address

Fiction Genres


     Literary works of imagination.  Novels and stories that describe imaginary people and events.

ExampleAdventures of Huckleberry Finn


     A serious play written for performance on stage, television or radio.  

ExampleRomeo and Juliet


    Literary works written in verse, in particular, verse writing in high quality, great beauty, emotional sincerity or intensity or profound insight.

ExampleThe Raven


     The creative power of the imagination.  Commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element, theme or setting.

ExampleThe Princess Bride


     Writings and other material designed to make people laugh.  The quality or content of something that elicits amusement or laughter.

Example:  Sh*t My Dad Says


     A short story with a moral, especially one in which the characters are animals.  A story about supernatural, mythological or legendary characters or events.

ExampleThe Tortoise and the Hare

Fairy Tales

     A story for children about fairies or other imaginary beings and events, often containing a moral message.

ExampleSnow White

Science Fiction

     Fiction based on futuristic science.  Fiction based on science, usually set in the future, that deals with imaginary scientific and technological developments and contact with other worlds.


Short Story

     A work of prose fiction that is shorter than a novel.

ExampleThe Tell-Tale Heart

Realistic Fiction

     Resembling or simulating real life.  Interested in, concerned with or based on what is real or practical.

ExampleBecause of Winn-Dixie


     Traditional stores and explanations passed down in a community or country.

ExamplePaul Bunyan

Historical Fiction

     Narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and personages.

ExampleJohnny Tremain


     Something that causes a very strong feeling of fear shock or disgust.

ExampleThe Shining

Tall Tale

     An exaggerated, unreliable story.

ExamplePecos Bill


     A story that has been passed down for generations, especially one that is presented as history but is unlikely to be true.

ExampleThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow


     An event or situation that is difficult to fully understand or explain.  Typically a detective or crime novel.

ExampleThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes


     A group of myths belonging to a particular people or culture that tell about their ancestors, heroes, gods and other supernatural beings and history.

ExampleThe Lightning Thief

Fiction in Verse

     Full length novels with plot, subplots, themes, with major and minor characters.  The narrative is usually presented in blank verse (unrhymed poetry)

ExampleThe Cat in the Hat

     The list provided by is only the tip of the iceberg.  Within each of the genres listed above, are several subgenres that define a work of literature at a more granular level.  It is also possible for a single piece to fall into multiple categories.

     Do you have a favorite genre to write?  How about a favorite genre for reading?  Are they the same?

*Unless otherwise specified by a link, all definitions obtained from Bing Dictionary

     We all do it.  At some point, we put more effort into making excuses for why we can’t write than we do actually writing.  How many are valid reasons and how many are nothing more than hot air?

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  1. I feel too exhausted to write.
  2. I’m feeling overwhelmed emotionally.
  3. I don’t know what to write about.
  4. There is just no time in the day.
  5. I’m too distracted by the internet to write.
  6. I’m distracted by video games, sports or TV and don’t want to write.
  7. My writing is terrible and I’m not in the mood to do it anymore.
  8. I have too many ideas and I don’t know where to focus my energy.
  9. I don’t know if this is what I want to write about.
  10. I would rather hang out with my friends, family members or spouse.

10 Reasons Why You Can

  1. Writing does not have to be a marathon event.  You don’t need to sit down for hours at a time in order to make progress.  If writing is something that you are truly passionate about, push yourself beyond the limits you think you have and when your body tells you that enough is enough, then you know you’ve truly exhausted yourself.
  2. Writing can be a form of therapy.  Put that emotion into your writing and use it to purge yourself of the overwhelming feelings.
  3. Write about anything that comes to mind.  The simple act of writing can help trigger inspiration.
  4. Again, you do not need to set aside long periods to write.  Write whenever possible; scribble down notes every chance you get.
  5. While the internet is important for research, you need to limit the amount of time you spend surfing the web.  Whenever possible, keep your writing time and your research time separate.
  6. If you have time to play video games, participate in sports or watch television, then you have time to write.  It comes down to prioritizing what is most important to you.
  7. Your writing will not improve without practice.  The more you write the better you get.  It is also possible that as your own biggest critic, you are being far too harsh on yourself.  
  8. You need to start somewhere.  When there are a multitude of ideas in your head, start with the one that is occupying the most space.  You do not need to focus all of your attention on one project at a time.  Make notes or draft an outline for some of the less pressing ideas so that you can reference them when you have more time to devote to them.
  9. You won’t know until you try it.  Writing has a way of evolving.  What we conceive does not always resemble the finished product.  If you make an attempt and you find that the subject matter really doesn’t appeal to you after all, you might find that the simple act of writing helped to spark a new, more appealing idea.
  10. The two things need not be mutually exclusive.  Write for your friends, family members or spouse.  Or better yet, write with them.  Having the support of those around you can be the biggest incentive to get the work done.
     What are some of the excuses you come up with for not writing?
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     Before you can truly tell their stories, you need to really get to know your characters.  Most people might think, as their creator, you would know your characters better than anyone else.  But as most writers can attest, characters are not “created” so much as they are met.

     Having never taken a creative writing course in my life, I am not going to go into the technical roadmap of character development.  There will be no numbered dos and don’ts list.  I don’t pretend to be an expert, I just share what I learn through trial and error and try to put into layman’s terms the reasoning behind it in hopes that I might make someone else’s journey slightly smoother than my own.

     If your approach to writing is anything like mine, outlining consists of a very high level summary of the story jotted down in a few sentences along with random notes of stray thoughts that can come at any given time.  You have an idea of the overall concept of the project, be it a short story or novel, but there is no in depth scene by scene outline.  As a “percolator” (See Pantser? Planner? Percolator? blog post) you don’t create a roadmap that you stick to when writing, but you also don’t just come up with a story and bang it out without any prior thought process.

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     When writing a novel, it can be quite easy to become inconsistent if you don’t have an outline.  You might find yourself asking questions like “What color were Amy’s eyes again?” “Did Bob grow up in Michigan or Minnesota?”  Simple questions that when you first set out to write, you have a clear and concise view of the answers to.  But throw in a few more characters, a couple of locations and a plot twist or two and it can be easy to lose track of the answers that were so clear in your mind last month or even last year when you first started writing.  You get so deep into the story that it can be hard to remember what happened a chapter or two earlier.  And if you are writing a series, you want to be sure to keep things consistent from one book to the next, because trust me, even if you don’t notice, the readers will.

     Please don’t tell me I have to create an outline, you might be pleading right about now.  If you are, don’t worry, the answer is still no (at least, not for the story).   What you will need to do, is create character bios.  A character bio can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.  The pertinent information that you should included are stats like, name, age, height, weight, eye color, etc…  I would also suggest that you put anything that is important to the story line.  

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For example, if your character is a pro athlete and has been traded several times, you want to keep track of the various teams they played for and the years they played for those teams.  If all of this information is kept in an easily accessible place, you will avoid the hassle of trying to skim back through the story to find this information again and again when doing consistency checks.

     If you use a writing software like Scrivener or Celtx, they come with handy character bio templates.  

Character Sketch Template in Scrivener

Character Profile Template in Celtx
     I’m sure if you are using some other writing software, it will have a similar feature available.  And for anyone that uses a word processing software like Word or WordPerfect, there are templates available for those too.

     I also find it helpful to add a picture or pictures of people that fit the vision you have of the character.  This can make the characters seem realer and more relatable, making the job of conveying their story easier.

     When I first started writing my series, I thought that character profiles were just nice to have.  But the further I got into the story lines, the more I saw their added value.  Other than using the bios to keep track of stats, they can also help to remind you of the character’s personality.  Would Jennifer really go sky diving if she is afraid of heights?  Is it believable for Joe to profess his love for Melinda when he normally has a hard time talking about his feelings?  I think you get the picture.

     What are some tricks you use to get inside of your characters’ heads?