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L. Stephenson is a queer, horror and cheeseburger loving maniac with a degree in Film & TV Screenwriting that has been haunting anthologies and magazine issues since 2018, and 2023 looks set to be his biggest year yet. Beginning with the release of his itchy mini-collection Candles, Bullets, & Dead Skin, followed by the American Cannibal anthology in early March with Maenad Press. And finally, his debut slasher novel, The Boatmore Butcher with Dark Ink Books in the fall. A labor of love coming full circle, once and for all.

You can access his work here


Perhaps you’ve seen those tweets of other authors hitting those writing goals, and that’s excellent, but then those damn thoughts creep in.  Why can’t I do that? Am I writing enough?  Why is it just me?  I can assure you.  It’s not just you. Writer’s block is no joke, so I hope that my words help, or at the very least make someone feel seen or feel less alone. Here are just a few of my experiences, and, with any luck, some useful tips.

Inspiration… Some of my WIPs began because I found inspiration from reading an amazing book, watching a great movie, or listening to a powerful song.  In cases such as these, I try revisiting these experiences to remind myself of what they gave me in the first place. If not to reignite what has burned out, then at the very least to help strengthen the original idea. Alternatively, the better avenue has been to widen my scope by being adventurous and taking risks – no matter how traumatizing! Good word of mouth has saved me time. Hype, on the other hand, I prefer to avoid.

Mantras… Most of the time, these hold no weight with me, but stumbling across the right quote helped to keep me motivated.  It was a shortened version of some wise words by Frank Zappa, which was as follows:

“First thing you do is you don’t stop.

Second thing you do is you keep going.”

Whether I printed it and pinned it, or framed it and hung it, I knew I had to keep it somewhere close by to where I write, so that I could always find it right away during those moments of doubt and uncertainty. I quickly decided to have it as my desktop background, and as a result it helped me complete the first draft of my debut novella, the longest piece of writing I had ever written at the time.

Planning… When I plan, I like to open a new Word file, break it up into a dozen or so pages, title each page after a Chapter, and make a bullet-pointed list on each one. The list will include anything from the events that take place during that chapter to smaller notes and details that I don’t want to forget, or anything from one line to a full scene of dialogue that has come to me in the moment. I will do this until I have a rough, but full plan of my story from start to finish.

Others will have their own methods, but it’s a great way to have all the information I need in one place when I am feeling lost, overwhelmed or indecisive.

Another way that planning helps me is when I decide to Write Out of Sequence… I have both overcome and kept writer’s block at bay when I feel like I’ve run out of interest by jumping to points in the story that I am the most excited to write. I can always fill in the gaps later and perhaps with a little more confidence. A plan can only go so far, so knowing exactly where I was going to as it had already been written made the journey a little easier.

Exercise the writing muscle…It doesn’t feel like much at the time, but it is better than nothing. I will try writing lyrics, rhymes, short stories just to get something moving inside my head.

Change the story… I was halfway through my second novella when the blocks stacked up on me.  But I realized that maybe the writing wasn’t working, because the story itself wasn’t working.  This resulted in me scrapping the entire second half of my book. I thought it would feel like an extreme solution to the problem, but it turned out to be the exact tonic I needed.  Planning and writing this new second half was the best writing experience I ever had, and the finished book is probably the piece of work of which I am the most proud.

Thank you for taking your valuable time out to read this piece.  Best of luck to all of you on those WIPs, and remember:

“First thing you do is you don’t stop.

Second thing you do is you keep going.”

Frank Zappa

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