Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Blogger, Kaylin McFarren

Join me in welcoming author Kaylin McFarren as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Kaylin’s latest book “Flaherty’s Crossing“ was released Feb. 1. She here today to share some of the problems she had with edits and how she solved them by cracking her writer’s block.

About a month ago, I found myself rewriting the same chapter over and over again – actually editing my editing. I was stuck, going nowhere, wedged into the corner of a mindless cube with no exit door in sight. Out of curiosity, I investigated and discovered that some pretty well-known authors have suffered from this same affliction: George Gissing, Samuel Coleridge, Joseph Mitchell, even F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

When I calculated that it took thirty years for Harold Brodkey to publish The Runaway Soul, I realized that I needed to find a solution, and fast. Now these suggestions may not be your answer, but after undergoing self-induced therapy for one week, I managed to lose my block before I completely cracked. 

1)  Rage. If you’re deleting chapters or filling trash baskets, screaming and stomping won’t get you anywhere – although it helps to clear the cob webs and release pent up frustrations. Just don’t make this a habit or you might find yourself residing in a padded cell. 
2)  Inspiration. The spark of genius might be flittering about just beyond your reach. Go for walks, see a movie, read books. Sit in the park with your eyes closed, listening to the world around you. But should you chose to do this, don’t ignore the flashers, pickpockets, and hookers milling around or the police officers who might ask you to move along. 

3)  Escape. If you can’t find something to inspire you, calm your frustrations with a distraction – whether it be lunch with friends, a weekend getaway or an around the world trip. But wherever you end up, don’t forget to bring home something other than leftovers and laundry to help rekindle your thoughts. 
4)  Re-engage. Reread what you’ve already written, the notes you compiled, the outline you struggled to complete. Become reacquainted with your characters and rescue them from a fate worse than avoidance. 

5)  Purpose. Remember what drove you to write this story in the first place. However, if you were purely financially motivated, hopefully you have someone very patient in your life that’s helping to pay the bills. :D 

Kaylin, thank you for stopping by today and sharing these tips with us. Sometimes we have to step back and get a different perspective on what we’re doing.

“Flaherty’s Crossing” is available at  and will be available March 1st at Fictionwise,, Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, Mybookstoreandmore, Mobipocket, CTR and Sony. 
For a little background on Kaylin: Linda Yoshida, aka Kaylin McFarren, is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in California, relocated with her family to Washington, and nested with her husband in Oregon. In addition to playing an active role in his business endeavors, she has been involved in all aspects of their three daughters' lives - taxi duties, cheerleading coaching, script rehearsals, and relationship counseling, to name but a few. Now she enjoys spending undisciplined time with her two young grandsons and hopes to have many more.

Although Kaylin wasn't born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.

Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

For more information on Kaylin, check out her website at 

So what do you do to crack your writer's block? Do you have any tips you'd like to share? 


  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Kaylin! Kaylin - Those are very useful ideas for getting re-inspired. It's always good to have a stock of "remedies" for that dreaded writer's block!

  2. Kaylin had some great ideas. I rarely have "writer's block", but rather a "sagging middle" at times. I do what she suggested...reread what I've written, review my plotting and this usually helps me to move on. If not, I skip the middle, write the end and somewhere in that time, I "find" the middle that will get me across to my end on a strong bridge.

    Sandy Elzie

  3. We can relate about the rewriting. Sometimes one can get so caught up in seeking perfection that it gets over done, like pie dough, if not handled lightly and with care, turns out tough. However, all are glad you found your must and escaped the trap. Your writing is flawless. And all are blessed who read it.

  4. Good advice - I've been lucky so far with writer's block - I'll cross my fingers I didn't just jinx myself :)

  5. The best thing for me to do when I experience writer's block is to write...something...anything. It frees the disease.

  6. Writer's blocks are tough, but somewhere deep down, I understand that it is sometimes part of the process as I work through a passage. So I try not to be bothered by it, but fill the time with other writing, or step away from the work for awhile.

  7. Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by. I think we all experience a little writer's block for time to time even if it's just trying to write a post for your blog. Helpful tips always come in handy.

  8. My current book was probably my hardest. I didn't know where I was going, but I loved my characters and wouldn't give up. I did a lot of rewrites, took a lot of walks and pushed through it. I'm a pantser, but with my next book I might try to plot a bit more before I start.

  9. Great ideas, Kaylin. I am probably most prone to escape, but am more likely to escape from the manuscript indefinitely, so I better keep that in check. The best thing I can do is just stick to it. Put it away for a day, at most. Then get back to it and really go at it. Turn off my Internet. REALLY turn it off.

    I finally got back to responding to some of your comments from Monday, all! And thanks, again, Mason, for having me as a guest blogger! You have such a great blog.


  10. Mason, thanks for having me today. It's nice to know I'm not alone in combating writing problems. For some it's the sagging middle, for others it's the tangents that need reined in. Lately it seems I have the best idea and know if I could just turn off all the distractions I could run full-steam ahead. Like Edie, I tend to be a panster too but have recently discovered that by writing a full synopsis first I have a road map to guide me. :)

  11. Great ideas for dealing with writer's block, Kaylin!

    The full synopsis is still scary to me, but I love doing mini-outlines to direct me through the next short section of the book.

    I'm scrambling now under a deadline...thanks for your tips! :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  12. I'm one of those writers who find myself writing and rewriting and NEVER feeling done. This was interesting to read!!

  13. If I get stuck, then I review the plot and almost always, there's something wrong. My WIP is a great example. I plotted something, but the time line didn't work with historical events, so I was blocked - completely. Over several days I brooded about my problem and then, low and behold a solution occurred and I'm off and running again. If I really can't move forward with the story, I look at the GMC. It works for me.

  14. When I'm stuck, I most often re-read. Usually doing that makes me fall in love with the characters and story again. (Incidentally, I rarely delete. I move things to a Cut folder. You never know when I may change my mind and wish I had something I'd cut.)

    Straight From Hel

  15. Another issue (and part of my earlier symptoms) that drains my creative juices is my compulsion to self-edit. Sometimes I feel like I just wallpapered the bathroom and now the rest of the house looks crummy. How do you control that irritating urge and more on??

  16. Congratulations on getting published Kaylin. Every success my dear, all your hard work as paid off and I'M grateful for your insight.
    Warm regards to you and lovely day to you and Mason.

  17. I most frequently use tip four, re-engage. I find it does wonders to get me moving again. Not sure how or why it works, but it does.

    Best Wishes Galen.
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  18. Some very good advice here. Appreciated the whole feature. And that book cover is very sensuous - love it!

    The Old Silly

  19. Very good tips, Kaylin! I've never gotten stuck - I always go back and reread & edit what I've completed to juice my enthusiasm - but I have found myself editing my edits on numerous occasions. Ever changed something so many times, you realize it's back where it began?

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  21. Thanks for all the wonderful comments, everyone! And L. Diane, I'm totally with you there. I have edited my edits and then realized they were my original words and thoughts. Too funny! Nice to know I'm not alone in all this craziness... :P

  22. Kaylin - thanks for the tips! They are all very valid, and I've probably used each at one time or another. The most useful one for me has always been tip #3, refill the well. Reading, walking, or best yet ... getting together with those of like minds to talk about craft and plot and the business of writing.

  23. Thanks for your thoughts Kaylin.

    I tend to go for walks and letting my thoughts on the story bubble in the background, or just before I go to sleep I'll think about where I am and where I need to go. It'll come to me. I also use your #4 and 5.

    Love the cover on your book. :-)

  24. Kaylin, thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing these tips with us. "Flaherty's Crossing" sound great, wishing you much success with it.

  25. I let my husband handle my writer's block. When I start screaming, he prys my fingers off the keyboard, talks me down and drives me to a movie. After I eat a refillable tub of popcorn and guzzle a gallon of Coke, I'm usually fine.
    But, your ideas sound less fattening! :-)

  26. You guys are just too funny! Carolyn, let me know what show you're headed to next time. I'll buy a matching tub of popcorn and sneak into the seat next to you. :P Mason, absolutely loved the feedback and enthusiasm on your site. Please keep me in mind for future visits. I'd LOVE to come back!

  27. Kaylin, enjoyed having you here. Consider the door always open and you're always welcome back. Look forward to seeing you again.

  28. Great advice! I'm not a writer but I am a reader. If I get stuck on a book and not totally into at a the time I'm reading it, I put it aside and read another book and then I go back to the book.

  29. Well...I'm sure hoping you'll enjoy this one, Amy. Take care and good reading. :D


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