Writer's Snag

We’ve all heard of writer’s block. I mean, you want to write. You’re sitting in your favorite place. Hot coffee steaming beside you. You open that fresh Word document, and you are completely ready to write the best novel of your life. Then you realize that the only action happening on the page is a blinking cursor.

Well, forget about it! I’m not talking about that.

What I want to discuss today, is writer’s snag. I’ve chosen to call it writer’s snag because this is a different animal compared to writer’s block, and so it would make sense to give it a different name. For me, writer’s snag is when you want to write. You are excited to write. You know exactly what you want to put on that page.

But you are too busy. A great example is this short and sweet blog post this week.

I have to admit, that this can be a troublesome time in any writer’s life. I would even argue that it is more of a nuisance than writer’s block. Kids, family, work. They all seem to get in the way sometimes. I am not immune to this phenomenon, and neither are you.

Case in point: It’s tax season. I’m an accountant.

I’m telling you, it’s rough. I have this great idea for a contemporary fantasy. It began to blossom around the Christmas holiday. I was off work more than I normally was, and got myself spoiled and was able to write way more that I normally do in a week. Next thing you know, the beginning of the year rolled over and I’m drowning in work-related craziness.

I have this great idea, and I can’t even write about it!

But what we are going to do, is breathe. Just breathe. It’s fine, and there is no way we are going to let writer’s snag keep you from producing that bestseller. I have developed a few pointers in order to allow you make the most of your time when you are suffering from writer’s snag.

1.       Make Every Small Moment Matter – I know we all say that we are so busy we can’t do anything. But let’s be real for just moment. Are you really? Can you shave ten minutes off of lunch? Do you really need that long in the restroom? The truth is, there are tiny bits of time that you have throughout the day. You just have to capture them in small quantities. 100 words may only be 100 words, but if you write them 1,000 times you have a novel.

2.       Think Outside the Box – This should be the most obvious. If you’re a writer, then you are in the best scenario you could imagine. There is a problem that your character (you) has to solve. So, think outside the box and make time. I spend my mornings writing, since it is too busy to do it at work. Nab a few lines while your child is napping, or stay up later after they go to bed. I have to get up a bit earlier, and I’m not fully functional, but it is slowly getting written. Even a small bit at a time counts in the long run.

3.       Suck it Up, Buttercup – This may be the Army coming out in me, or possibly the father. But I grew up in a time where if you wanted to do something, you went out and did it. It isn’t easy, but you have to think about the future and what you want to accomplish. Sometimes there won’t always be that perfect time. Got get it! Go write one damn word a day if that is all you can do because guess what? If you do that 100,000 times, then you have a novel.

And there you have it. Now get out there and defeat writer’s snag forever!


Musings with Sarah Sutton

I love writing, and I love being able to follow other writers on their journey. This is one of the reasons that I chose to integrate author interviews into my blog. I mean at some point you may get tired of my ramblings, or maybe not (hopefully not). I think this is a good way to support other authors as well as give our community a small insight into their minds. 

If you have been to my website, you have seen that I am working on starting a podcast. This is something that I am very excited about. I would love to move these interviews there, as part of each segment will focus on an author. 

As I began thinking on this, I knew that the first thing I had to do was come up with a list of authors to include. Well, I suppose I should say start with, since I’m going to get you all at some point. Sarah was one of the first few that came to mind. 

I enjoy Sarah’s posts and her enthusiasm for writing. She is part of the old guard (for me anyways) of the #writingcommunity and I added her to my super-secret writer’s list a long time ago. One of the things that I appreciate the most about Sarah is that I can always count on seeing original content from her. From the samples I have read, I can tell that she is not only passionate about her writing, but about sharing it with the world. 


Sarah Sutton 

What genre(s) do you write?  

“I write YA Contemporary Romance or YA Contemporary Fantasy.” 

Have you published any books?  

“No published books yet, but I’m working on it!” 

What books are you currently writing?  

“I’m writing a YA Contemporary romance book titles Hitting a Home Run. I’ve been working on it for almost two years, hopefully on the last legs of editing.” 

What is your current writing status – Querying, indie publishing?  

“Right now, I’m querying, and having a conversation with an editor. Fingers crossed!” 

How did you get into writing?  

“Oh, that’s a fun story. When I was six years old, I absolutely devoured any book that I could read. I was so inspired, I wrote my own chapter book—completely plagiarized from whatever I was reading, of course. I’d go to the store and buy folders to put my papers in and pass them around to my fifth-grade classmates to read. They all loved it, claiming that I’d be a famous author one day. I’ve been writing ever since!” 

What is your motivation to write?  

“I’ve recently taken a hiatus from writing while waiting on responses from my beta readers and was submerged in terrible anxiety. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Until, one day, I wrote a little snippet from a random idea in my head. The anxiety vanished as each word flowed, as if writing itself was a sword against the beast. I write because it makes my insides feel quiet, as if I’m alone in the world I’m creating. And I love it.” 

What do you want to accomplish in your writing career?  

“At this point, I just want to be able to hold my published book in my ten fingertips, to feel my hard work and see it finally come together. Perhaps one day my goals will change, but this is one that I’m excited about.” 

Where do you currently write?  

“Recently, I’ve splurged and—this is going to sound so obnoxious, and I’ll accept it—purchased one of those pre-built sheds for out in the yard and have converted it into my very own she-shed. There isn’t enough room in my house for an office, and in my big family, this gives me a little slice of heaven. This is where I spend my time writing, and I’m so grateful!” 

Who is your favorite author?  

“Taherah Mafi—she’s so down to earth and cares about her readers. She’s absolutely my favorite!” 

What is your favorite band? 

“Oh, man...I’m not much of a person to pick a favorite band—a handful of songs by the same band is more my speed. I really like AJR and Lauv.” 

What is your favorite food? 

“Chocolate chip cookies. Do you even have to ask why?” 

If you could go anywhere, real or imagined, where would you go? Why?  

“I’d go to the beach, definitely. Michigan doesn’t offer much in the relaxing water department—and with my love of the ocean, this is definitely where I’d go.” 

What is something that we don’t already know about you?  

“I could say the alphabet backwards before I could say it forwards. I’m addicted to Coke—the drink, of course. And sometimes I contemplate quitting my job to become a professional napper.” 

How can we get in touch with you? 

Twitter: @sarahmaesutton 

Instagram: @sarahmaesutton 

Website: sarah-sutton.com

If you aren’t following Sarah, then you are missing out!

The Last Prayer

A soft evening breeze swept over the deep ravine. The cool draft moved as a phantom along the old wooden planks, causing them to tremble. It whispered past the faces of the two sentries. A thick fog had erupted from the ravine. Settling over the camp, it clouded the view to the other side. The sentries stood unmoved, watching intently at the swaying bridge before them. 

“How longs it been,” rasped the whispered voice of an older man. 

“Five days,” replied the younger, even quieter. 

“Weather is getting colder.” The old man continued. “You know what they say about the winter up here. Be mighty fine to be back in my warm bed.” 

“They’ll be here.” The younger insisted. “James told me five days at the most.” 

“Aye,” began the older one, “five days was yesterday, as I haven’t pulled out me second hand yet.” 

“They’ll come.” Smiled the younger boy. “We just need to hold the bridge until they make it back.” 

“James is a right fine officer.” The older man rasped, “Mighty fine captain indeed, but the stories haven’t changed. What is one company to do against a hundred strong?” 

“Nobody said a hundred.” Replied the younger. 

“Eh,” scoffed the older man, who bent over to light a cigar. “Nobody didn’t say a hundred either?” 

The cold breeze now licked the uncovered faces of the sentries. The long grass around their legs moved restlessly as it danced along with the melody of the night air. The sun was now completely down, but the sentries didn’t light a fire. 

“Curse this cold.” The old man croaked. “I can’t feel me toes.” 

“Just a little longer.” The younger was said. “James will be back.” 

“And what if he does, mm? What’s to say he doesn’t lead them right here to us?” 

“He wouldn’t.” The confident voice of the younger man rang out amid the darkness. “You know that, or you should. He’s probably been your captain longer than he has been my brother.” 

“Now you’re talking.” Smiled the old man, the cigar now half smoked and sticking to his lips as he talked. “Why did you ever want to join up anyways, boy? I mean I know I didn’t have a choice. Down to me last dime, and my wife to her last nerve.” 

Their conversation was interrupted by single drum beat from somewhere far away beyond the thick fog. 

“It’s Jude.” The boy laughed to himself as he chanced a glance at the old man who was trying hard to ignore the drum. “Was named after my grandpa.” 

“Strong name.” The old man said as he nodded his head. “Just Jude, or is it short for something?  Morris is my name, but you can call me Mo. Wife calls me Mo-ron half the time.” 

Jude smiled trying not to laugh, as several more drum beats could be heard, this time only closer and much louder. 

“Judah,” he replied, still looking straight ahead. 

“Is that right?” Mo said with interest. “Judah like the man who got eaten by the whale, or like the brother of Jesus?” 

“Jonah was eaten by the whale.” 

“That’s right, Jonah.” Snorted Mo slapping his leg. “Lucky us then, got the brother of Jesus right here with me. Wait till I tell my wife.” 

“Well, not exactly,” began Jude, “but if it makes you feel better.” 

“I feel like dancing with the daisies now, son,” laughed the old man, choking on the butt of his cigar. “Nah, my feet are still frozen. I’d probably just fall straight down that gully over there.” 

The drums were now closer and beating at a faster pace as the two sentries shifted in the foliage beneath the trees. 

“I could have sworn I felt something when I brushed by you earlier.” 

“Mo, I am not the brother of Jesus,” Jude said trying to stay calm, but the drums were getting louder and now dim torch lights could be seen moving through the trees across the ravine. 

“I knew I should have gone to church more,” whispered the gruff voice of Mo, as he attached a bayonet to the barrel of his rifle. “Now that I look back on it, I should of done a lot of things. Say a prayer for us, huh?” 

They couldn’t see anyone yet, but the bridge was beginning to shake as Jude finished attaching his own bayonet. He glanced in the direction of Mo one more time before lowering his head. 

Now, Do It Again!

As our journey continues, we are now stumbling into step four. This step I like to call: Now, do it again! I’m so proud of you. You have successfully evaded real life enough to write an entire book. Go ahead and start writing query letters and searching for the perfect agent, right?

Oh, so wrong.

And you may not want to here it, so I’m going to say it a little louder for those in the back. You’ve written an entire book, NOW, DO IT AGAIN!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about rewriting your entire story, unless you do that with your drafts. Personally, I can’t do that, but what I have found is that everyone is different. Everyone has their own unique way to rewrite their story. And that is where we find ourselves.

It is going to be hard, don’t get me wrong. You just wrote an entire book, and now you must reread that and adjust it? But it is already perfect, right? That is what we all think. We will pour hours and days into our characters and story only to find that it is not up to par with what we are wanting to convey to our audience. It’s going to be tough, its going to be rough, and that is why it is named as such.

Enter rough draft.

I know that it seems finished, but one thing you must realize is that it seems that way to everyone. We want to believe it, because of the daunting task of going back through it. But I say fear not my friends, we created an #amcrying tag just for a situation just like this.

Some of you will start with a completely blank document and rewrite the entire story, which is great. Others will reread their story and simply make the necessary changes and additions, which is also great. You are going to hear me coming back to that idea time and time again. This is your book and you need to write it the way you feel best about doing so.

Not only will others attempt to tell to write your book, but they will also tell you how to edit it. I’m not saying to ignore them. No matter how good you become at writing, there is always going to be someone else out there who is much better at it than you. Writers who have seen it all. Writers who have been to the edge and back. There are going to be ones who have been through the trenches of the querying process.

These writers are going to be your lifeline during this process. They are going to be invaluable. But we are not there yet. Calm down and just breathe, we are just now writing the second draft of your story, and if you though the first was bad, get ready for the second.

When I do my second draft, I make it less daunting, by not making the first draft something I fall in love with. I don’t flesh out descriptions and backstory. I don’t spend hours on names or places. I simply write. Sometimes my chapters in the first draft are only a couple hundred words long, and at other times they are a couple thousand. I don’t worry about consistency and word count. I simply write to get the story on the paper.

Now, when I get to my second draft, I don’t really have a Michelangelo work of art that I don’t want to change. I have a sort of outline. A skeleton of a story that is easy to manipulate because I am not attached to it yet. The first draft is a child in their toddler years. They are messy and you know they won’t stay like that forever. You know it is good for them to grow and change into something greater. That makes it so much easier.

The second draft is the teenage years. They’re growing up. They are getting some substance, but they are also getting smarter and evolving to changing circumstances. In the second draft we are fleshing out those descriptions. We are teaching ourselves new things about the writing process. I usually only do three drafts, and the third is what we will talk about next week.

The important thing to take away from the second draft is that we are focusing on filling out the story and making sure it flows well. At this point I am still not worried about using the right vocabulary, but I am finalizing character names and places and solidifying the focal point of the novel. The plots and story arcs need to make sense that way you are not having to mess with that later.

The nitpicking. The beta readers and critique partners. Oh boy, those are next. If you think that you weren’t ready for your own critique of your novel, just wait until you get it from other writers.

That Perfect PB&J

Writing your novel is unlike anything that you have done up to this point. You’ve got a great idea. You’ve outlined and planned it. Hopefully by this time you have even written a chapter or two. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself, until you realized exactly what you’ve done.

There is a certain hype. A motivation that is pumping through your veins as you begin to daydream your novel. You can see it glistening on the shelves. Immediately rising to a bestseller. You can hear the agents fighting over you, and the big publishers and their lucrative deals. But an interesting thought begins to cross your mind as well.

I have to write this thing.

And that is kind of a big deal because it’s the whole reason you got into this in the first place. I want to help. I want to give advice, and some is strictly based off my experience because that is all I know. I have spoken with other writers, though, and I can think we can agree that one of the hardest parts to writing a novel is actually writing the stinking thing.

Outlining and planning is like the honeymoon in a marriage. Then real life begins to hit, and all the sudden there are children and work. Bills and other various adulting activities that can sometimes drag you down. At its core, we write because we love writing.

But at that same core we sort of despise writing.

At some point I think it would be so cool to be able to just think a novel into completion. You know what I mean. Wouldn’t it be awesome to just think words onto the page? The editing and character development just does its own thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. I love seeing my story develop into something amazing. But if you are feeling doubtful or stressed about putting so many thousands of coherent words onto a page, it’s completely normal.

I would say writing the novel is probably step three. But let’s not kid ourselves, its actually like sub step A of step three, and that is what we are going to focus on here. Writing is like that perfect PB&J. You must have the right ratio down, so it tastes good, but is not overpowered by one ingredient. To start, its not going to be important how you make it, what is important is getting all the ingredients down from the cabinet and making sure you have everything.

That’s it.

If you start spreading peanut butter on the bread before you’re confident you have jelly, I fear you will not have a very good PB&J. To translate that into writing, your first step is to get words on paper. You don’t need a thesaurus. You don’t need an editor or illustrator. You don’t need a beta reader or critique partner. That first part is all you, and it can be hard.

You know better than anyone that you have a great story. But typing thousands of words down is not something that just happens. There is a certain amount of motivation mixed with creativity and enlightenment that all come together. Its like a perfect storm.

There is no specific amount of time associated with writing your story. Not one. You will see tons of people posting about the million words they wrote yesterday.


You are not going to write as much or as little as the next person because everyone’s circumstances are unique to them. There are times that I have written five thousand words in one day. There are times I have only written five. There are times I have written none. There are days and weeks that I have gone without writing because of obligations and it makes me feel absolutely terrible.

We put ourselves on these deadlines and feel compelled to meet them. Listen, nobody is going to steal a story from your mind, so what is the rush? Let it come to you in your own time. The first thing you have to do is get the story down on paper. Get that amazing thought out of your head and down on paper. If that takes a week or seven years, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that you’re writing.