The Book Diva's Reads is proud to host a guest post by Safia Fazlul, debut author of The Harem. Without further ado, I give you Ms. Fazlul...
Overcoming Writer's Block
By Safia Fazlul
A while ago, during one of my many late-night procrastination sessions surfing the Internet, I came across an interesting article about writer's block – particularly about the extreme sort that debut authors of fiction suffer from. I could empathize with the author of the article as I had an abundance of ideas for my second novel and still I spent hours just staring at my computer screen, not writing a single sentence. I was still attached to my characters in The Harem and the realization that their story had finished left me both relieved and saddened.
However, I refused to be yet another frustrated and unproductive new author and, so, I decided to try just about everything and anything to get me writing again. I've listed below the methods that are working for me and if you're an author who often suffers from crippling writer’s block, hopefully they'll work for you too:
· Go somewhere secluded and empty of things. Writing fiction means to leave planet Earth and enter that fantasy setting in your head, which becomes very difficult when you're surrounded by “real” everyday noise and distracting objects. My favourite place to write nowadays is at the library, in a small cubicle that’s hidden behind a long hall of book stacks. This place is so quiet and uneventful that I want to escape to my novel's world.
· Quickly write a badly written paragraph. I think writers inherently recognize good and bad writing and need to urgently fix ugly sentences (or maybe that’s just me?). A piece of writing that's been written quickly and without much thought will have many problems to solve – but it is still words on a page. Then, once I reread the paragraph and begin to edit it, I get so involved with the story that it makes it easier to continue writing it. · Write to describe a character. A story progresses through its characters and to be committed to writing a novel, you must be committed to the characters in it. When I no longer feel enthused about the storyline, I simply start to list facts about my characters: their problems, their goals, their flaws, the way they look, the way they talk, and so on. My interest in the characters usually re-ignites the interest in their story and helps the writing come easier. · Go for a long walk. Staring at a blank page all day can be very depressing as I feel like I've wasted a lot of time doing nothing. That feeling of failure definitely withers the mood for writing, and that’s when I turn off my computer, grab a bottle of water, and go for a walk outside. I find that the fresh air improves my mood and the long solitary stroll helps me regain my focus.
· Read parts of your all-time favourite books. Authors are married to their writing but, just like in a marriage, sometimes the romance needs a little rekindling. When I simply don't feel like writing, I try to relax and read my old favourites. Reconnecting with novels that have affected me is inspiring and reminds me of why I wanted to experience the pleasure (and sometimes pain!) of writing in the first place. Also, the flow of the writing of authors I admire makes the task seem less difficult.
· Drink. Coffee, that is. I've cut down on coffee lately since I was bordering on caffeine dependency, but there’s no doubt that a hot, frothy latte in the morning wakes me up and helps me focus on my writing. Most days I substitute with green tea which pretty much has the same effect but a lot less caffeine per cup.
· Keep notes/review notes. Sometimes amazing ideas just come to you out of nowhere and disappear just as fast unless you make a note of it. I often keep a notepad and a pen in my purse to jot down a great sentence or a change in the plotline or some other detail. When I don’t have my notepad, I write it as a text message and send it to my inbox. Reviewing these notes helps the writing flow when I'm stuck as they’re small ideas that require more elaborate explanations.
The Harem by Safia Fazlul
ISBN: 9781894770989 (Trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781927494196 (ebook)
ASIN: B00AZQ88VM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 2012
Publisher: Tsar Publications
How far would you go to be free?
Humorous, though tinged with a sense of the tragic, at times risqué, and utterly contemporary, The Harem, is a fast-paced novel about young Asian women and their quest for freedom. Farina has only one dream: to be free and move away from Peckville, a Muslim ghetto in a large city. She is eager to escape the clutches of her strict parents who will not let her drink, party or have any kind of contact with males. As soon as she turns eighteen, she sets her dream in motion and gets her own apartment. The only problem is that her minimum-wage job leaves her feeling anything but liberated. How can she resist when her ambitious best friend Sabrina proposes an infallible business idea? How harmful can running as escort agency really be? Will she finally be freed by her increasing wealth and independence, or will she remain enslaved by her increasing guilt?
About the author:
Safia Fazlul, of Bangladeshi background, was raised in Scandinavia and now lives in Toronto, where she attends the University of Toronto. When she was eighteen she found work as a “phone girl” for a high-end escort agency, an experience that inspired this novel.