Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: That Writer’s Block is Me by Judy Molnar

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationI often wonder why writing can create a block. I know for many years I wanted to write. Everyday we are doing some type of writing, yes emails can count. I knew there was an unmistakable yearning within me to write something expressive, creative.

I had no idea where to start. I remember back in college I had a theatre class on playwriting. We had to do just that, write a one act play by the end of the course. In that semester we covered the ins and outs of how to and the do of playwriting. I found the do was the most difficult. I was unsure of my voice, what to say, how to say it, what would people say… and the ultimate critic would arise, me. I found all kinds of doubts, excuses and reasons not to write. FEAR.

Over the past few years since it became apparent I was looking to express myself from the outside world. I started  writing in a diary, I mean they call them journals now. The space inside the journal pages was fueling my voice. It was private, non judgmental and gave me a chance to dabble along with words.

I have to laugh looking back at all my filled journals as I was “hand” writing them, not typing them on a computer. Since I have what someone once called, “expressive handwriting” which meant my handwriting is hard to read, no I am not a doctor.

I have a book to my credit, “You Don’t Have to Be Thin to Win.” Published in 2001. Lifestyle book about the journey of my weight loss and tips about how to do it. In some ways it wrote itself as it was personal. Also I had the pressure of a 12-week deadline and help of a seasoned co-writer.

It wasn’t the style of writing I am playing with these days.

journaling 2I have jumped into many styles of writing since picking up a journal. Since 2013 I have been blogging, writing poetry, song lyrics and the daring attempt at writing a novel(s). The attempt was made much easier with the NaNoMoWri program, an online free resource to help you write.

Last November 2014, in 30 days, I drafted my first novel. It was a challenge but exciting at the same time. Since then I continue write with their program as it puts time, structure and lots of resources to help me write. It was the encouragement I needed to move from my journaling to creative writing.

Where does one start if you want to write? A few thoughts and tips I have found helpful.

  1. Journaling is a good place to start, it’s you, personal, your views of the world around you and doesn’t require editing or anyone to read it. I found that a safe place to write.
  2. Writing prompts, sentence teasers, where you get a line, sentence to finish or situation. From that promote you just start writing the first things come to your mind.
  3. Carrying around a notebook, any moment a thought can hit you, get it out of your head and on to the page.
  4. Create a space for your writing.
  5. Each day try to write a little something.
  6. Open yourself to listening. You will be surprised how it will change your writing
  7. Write on ideas and subjects that matter to you when you first start out writing
  8. Take a deep breath, you don’t have to think about how to finish, word counts, editing, just focus on the art of your voice and let that flow upon the page
  9. Join a local writing group for learning, encouragement and support.
  10. Consider writing as your time to express yourself.

Do you want to unblock that writer in you? Start with what you can. Don’t let yourself or anyone hold you back from the opportunity to write.

We all have a story to tell, share, now you can start to write that story, poem, music, blog or fill a journal with your voice.

Writing is healthy for the mind, body and soul.

For too many years I have created my own writer’s block, that was me.

Don’t block yourself!

Dream Big Always,
Judy Molnar

You can find me on Twitter @JudyMolnar or read my blog at

Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Should Writers Keep a Daily Journal?

As we approach the new year, I begin to think over my resolutions. For the past four years, I have resolved to keep a daily journal of my life. To the non-writing world, this seems like a natural extension of my status as a writer. After all, why wouldn’t someone who writes keep a written record of her daily life? However, as the writers who are reading this will probably know, the idea of keeping a journal creates a notable amount of debate among writers.

journal resolutionsThose in favor of writing in a journal say that it helps a writer’s abilities. After all, what better way to practice the craft of storytelling than recording the story of your own life? Likewise, writing of any sort can boost creativity and improve general craft skills like sentence formation and word choice. From an inspiration standpoint, the record of one’s life may prove to be a wealth of inspiration and character development when reflected upon in future years.

Those opposed to writing in a journal say that it hinders writers by taking away valuable writing time. Put another way, writers could use the time they spend scribbling in their journal to actually write their novels, poetry, etc. From a technical standpoint, some writers believe the skills gained by journal writing do not actually translate to fiction or other prose forms as well as some writers like to think and may actually hinder professional writing, because the writer becomes too introverted in style.

(On a tangential note, both of these arguments can be applied to the division among writers about blogging.)

Both sides of the argument make valid points. So how do you, as writer, decide whether or not keeping a journal is a good option for you? Well, as I say about most things in the writing world, you simply have to know yourself, your artistic style, and your professional goals. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of this debate, I guarantee there is a style of journal writing for you.


Don’t feel the need to chronicle your daily activities? Don’t want to take time away from your novel to relive your day? Then simply don’t journal. However, I would still suggest taking time for reflection every now and then to keep yourself centered on who you are and where you are headed.

journalDaily Journal Writing

If you are like me from 2011-14, then you like the idea of being able to reflect back and recall every day of your year. After all, when you take time to actually think about how many moments slip through our memories’ grasps, it really is alarming. If you feel like you want to hold onto these moments, then keeping a daily journal of your activities is probably for you. Just make sure that writing in your journal does not replace your professional writing and/or does not become an excuse for procrastination.

Spontaneous Journal Writing

Many writers who I talk to about journal writing say that they simply do not find their own lives interesting enough to warrant daily journal writing — hence why they write fiction. If the romanticism of journal writing appeals to you, but you find your life mundane, try breaking out a journal for the big moments. After all, these are the ones you want to remember, in more depth than a Facebook status. However, I still think it is worth it to chronicle a handful of the mundane days. There are plenty of “ordinary” moments that we take for granted every day, but ten years from now, you might find the regular routine more meaningful than you ever expected.


Remember in school when teachers would have you sit down and do “freewriting?” In case you don’t, it is an exercise in which you simply write whatever spills forth from your brain. By doing this, you will allow yourself to be creative, while still capturing the moods and themes of your daily life. For a more “journal-esque” focus, you could try to gear your freewriting toward whatever issues or events seem most prominent in your life. This way, you still keep track of what is going on, but you retain more creative freedom in the process and frequency.

happiness project journalMicro-journaling

With micro-journaling, you record single words or short phrases about your day — enough to jog your memory, but not take up too much time. This is the style of journal writing that I will be doing in 2015. Since 2009, I have been writing at least three positive things that happen in my life each day, whether I write a complete journal entry or not. As I become busier with work, blogging, and professional writing, I find that I do not have the time or creative energy to keep up with a daily journal. However, I still want to keep a record of my daily life. Therefore, each day of 2015, I am going to continue with my tradition of writing three daily gratitudes. I may expand this to keeping a “one-sentence” journal, but we’ll see how I go.

Writing in a journal takes discipline, a strong memory, and self-awareness. It can boost your creativity and writing craft skills, but it can also take away from valuable writing time and skew your writing style. If journal writing is something that interests you, give one of the styles above a try and see how you like it. Even though journal writing can seem like a restrictive task, there really are no rules. Write as much or as little as you like, in any style you like, and change at a whim. After all, it’s your life. Literally.

Have you ever kept a journal before and what style did you use? Are you resolving to keep a journal in the new year? Let me know your plans and tips!

Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

NaNoWriMo Prep: My Strategy for November 2014

In my everyday life, I am a planner, 100%. My ardent love for lists is legendary among my family and friends, and my occasional

Credit to NaNoWriMo Prep page.
Image from the NaNoWriMo Prep page.

(okay, frequent) tendency to color-code those lists is a lesser-known, but still unsurprising, habit. I am not one of those people who can skate through life willy-nilly. I know where I’m going, and I know how to get there. And if, for some reason, I launch into an aimless existential crisis, you can be damn sure I make a list and get a plan. Fast.

When it comes to my creative life, however, I relax the reins.

If you are anywhere remotely near the writing community, you’ll know that there are two types of writers: planners and pantsers. Planners meticulously organize their works before writing. They know the whole plot, every corner of their worlds, and each freckle on each character. Pantsers, on the other hand, just knuckle down at the keyboard and make it up as they go. As the name implies, they fly by the seats of their pants. Much to everyone’s surprise and my own inner-editor’s dismay, when it comes to writing, I lean more toward the pantsing side.

When I arrive at a new story idea, the theme, message, moral lesson — or whatever you like to call it — meets me first. I always have a message before I have a story, characters, or a setting. This is a direct reflection of my reading style and personality as well as a side effect of my sociology degree. In everything, I always want to know the point.

Credit to NaNoWriMo Prep page.
Image from the NaNoWriMo Prep page.

The problem with knowing the point before anything else is that the possibilities for how to express the point are endless. As you can surely guess, this is also the best part of knowing the point first. Now, as much as I want to trust my ability to convey a meaningful message on the fly (Sound untrustworthy? Yeah, I thought so, too), I figured I should probably do some planning on my NaNoWriMo novel idea.

Yes, this is it, ladies and gentlemen. This is where I stop dropping hints and making offhand comments and proudly declare:

I am participating in (and going to win) NaNoWriMo 2014.

However, I know that such a rigorous and frightening undertaking demands planning. Normally, I don’t like to plan. Mostly, I avoid planning, because I feel like it stifles my creativity in expressing my theme of choice. But, I also don’t like to plan too strictly, because if I know the whole story, I feel woefully uninspired to write my story. Knowing everything sucks the adventure out.

Therefore, I am employing a hybrid strategy for NaNoWriMo. Here it is, to be fleshed out in a series of blog posts over the next few weeks:

  1. Motivation: What will inspire me to “win” NaNoWriMo?
  2. Inspiration: What does my world and what do my characters look and feel like?
  3. Plot: Where am I going, and how detailed is my map?
  4. Time Management: How will I cram 1,666 words into my daily life?
  5. Acceptance: Knowing that the quality of my first draft can always be improved, but first, it must be written.

As you can see, I need to piece together the bones of my novel’s skeleton, as well as sort out some real-life logistical details. My hope is this series of blog posts will force me to have a plan for how I will write this novel, why I will write this novel, and a general (but still roomy) concept of what I will write in this novel.

As for theme/message/moral significance, that is for me to know, and hopefully, for you to one day figure out as you read!

If you would like to follow along with my NaNoWriMo journey or be my writing buddy, feel free to check out my profile!


Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

My 9/11 Experience

At this point, I think it’s pretty safe to say that most people (especially Americans) born in the 1990s or before can remember when and where they heard the news about the 9/11 attacks. More importantly, I would assume that most people can name several ways that 9/11 has affected their lives. Even if they did not witness the attacks or lose a loved one to them, most people feel the effects of 9/11 through rigorous airport security, ongoing American involvement in the Middle East, or just seeing “Patriot Day” on their calendars.

World_Trade_Center_fogFor some, 9/11 was life-changing. Take, for instance, my favorite musician and writer, Gerard Way. Gerard was commuting to New York City when the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings occurred. As he tells it, Gerard saw the bodies falling from the buildings, heard his fellow commuters call to quit their jobs or propose to loved ones, and realized he wasn’t doing enough with his life. That day, Gerard made a commitment to start a band and wrote this song about the tragedy he witnessed. As music lovers know, he succeeded, fronting My Chemical Romance for its 12 year career and even expanding his creative endeavors to write the Eisner Award winning Umbrella Academy and The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.

Obviously, Gerard is a rather extreme example. My own 9/11 experience was not nearly so immediate in its life-alterations. However, upon reflection, I believe 9/11 revealed something extremely important about me.

I was exactly nine and a half on September 11, 2001. I learned about the attacks in my fourth grade classroom. Our substitute teacher explained that we could not go outside for recess, because two planes had crashed into buildings in New York City. Of course, as children, this seemed ludicrous. What did an accident in New York have to do with us way out in Kansas? Of course, as an adult, I’m more inclined to wonder — where was our regular teacher? Was she affected by the events? Was she too scared to come to work?

That night, I went home and watched my parents watch the news. My dad took every single one of our vehicles, along with every single gas can we owned, to the gas station. He and my mom were worried that gas prices would skyrocket or there would be a fuel shortage…or worse. I didn’t understand much of what was happening. I reacted in the most instinctive way possible. I pulled out my bright Lisa Frank journal (I told you I was a 90s kid).

And I wrote.

At the time, I didn’t think anything about it. I was scared and confused. I wanted to sort out my thoughts. And, I must admit, I remember thinking about the diary-form historical fiction books in the school library and loving the romanticism of my own thoughts being recorded in the same way.

This is THE journal from 9/11. Unfortunately, the key is missing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. 9/11 did not make me a writer. It did not spawn any kind of creative awakening. I’ve been telling stories since I could talk and writing since I could hold a pencil. But, in retrospect, I think it’s very telling that in a time of international chaos, I chose to calm my little world by writing. Upon more reflection, I can see this pattern throughout my life. After romantic break-ups, the death of beloved pets, an existential crisis–I always write something.

They (the vague, omniscient “they”) say that tragedy brings out the best in people, the worst in people, and the true nature of people. Well, if that’s true, the 9/11 tragedy (and the smaller struggles in my life) have brought out my personal truth. I am a writer.

I hope I’m not alone in this. I hope that others, whether on a personal scale like me, or a worldwide scale like Gerard Way, continue to let tragedy inspire them to create art and change lives.

Thirteen years ago today, millions of lives changed in an instant. Right now, today, millions of lives are continuing to begin and end and evolve. Including mine. Including yours.

I wrote this.

What are you going to do about it?