Writing Mentors

A few weeks ago, I promised that I would write a blog post about finding a writing mentor. I am not going to write a long introduction to this post because I am going to be straight forward with providing information, explaining it…and I don’t want this to be like a recipe blog where you have to read about the blogger’s great-great-grandmother who grew up on a vineyard in Italy before they even mention the recipe. So…here we go:

Why Do I Need a Mentor?

A lot of us ask ourselves this question. Mostly out of fear and confusion more than a desire to avoid having a mentor. Or, maybe it is our ego speaking up in the back of our minds. Either way, there are quite a few reasons to have a writing mentor.

  1. When it comes to your own work, you may be wearing rose-colored glasses.
  2. You need honest feedback as a writer.
  3. Accountability.
  4. Support & Inspiration.
  5. Continuous improvement as a writer.
  6. To access skill sets you don’t have.
  7. Networking.
  8. To develop a thicker skin.
  9. Kinship in a difficult field.

We all look at our own work as if it is our baby/child. We love it no matter how ugly it is. Sometimes we need an impartial person–who also wants us to succeed–to give us honest feedback and continuously give that feedback. We also need someone like this to hold us accountable to our writing goals, to check in on us, and to keep us from slacking off. A mentor will also be your biggest cheerleader – cheering you on and pushing you to go harder, faster, stronger – to live up to all of your potential. Mentors also make sure that we constantly have that impartial party looking over our shoulders when we need it so that we do not develop bad habits or revert back into bad ones we had before. We continuously improve with a mentor.

Mentors will also provide us with a way to learn skills we just don’t have or don’t know how to access. Maybe you are great at writing exposition and description but your dialogue isn’t so great. Maybe you’re good at first person POV but not so great at others. A mentor may be better at types, styles, and genres of writing that you are not, helping to teach you these things along the way. A mentor can also help you network, introduce you to new people in the writing world, to make friends you can learn from on your journey. The feedback and knowledge given by your mentor helps you to learn to take critique in a positive way and develop a thick skin so that both good and bad feedback is handled appropriately in the future. And lastly, we all need kinship in the writing world. It can be made unnecessarily competitive and exhausting by others, so having someone who understands your journey is invaluable.

Why This Particular Mentor?

Maybe you have a mentor in mind. Maybe you don’t. But once you set your sights on a particular person you want to mentor you, there are some questions you need to ask yourself.

  1. Do I just like this mentor personally, or do I respect them professionally?
  2. Do I think this person can make me better, or do I think we will just get along well?
  3. Do they write the same genre as you? Is that a good thing?
  4. What are their professional achievements?
  5. Do they have the professional admiration of others?
  6. Have you read their work?

We all want a mentor we can like and get along with…but if you don’t respect them professionally or think they can actually help you improve as a writer, what is the point? You need to select a mentor (and hopefully be accepted) whose work you respect and you think can take you to the next level of your writing career. Also, did you select a mentor who writes the same genre as yourself? That may not necessarily be a wise decision. If you are too similar to your mentor, they may help you improve some aspects of your writing but they may not help you become a well-rounded writer.

What work has this person done? What are their professional achievements? If there is nothing to gauge the mentor’s abilities by, why would you want them as a mentor? Don’t choose a mentor just because they seem like they know what they are talking about. Ask for proof. Additionally, ask others (in a respectful, private way) if they can recommend the person you are thinking of mentoring you. Lastly, have you read any work from this potential mentor? Was it good? Do you want to learn to write like them? What about their work makes you want them to teach you how to write better?

Let’s Be Realistic

Are you a new writer who has taken some creative writing courses or possibly published a few works in magazines or online? Maybe you have self-published a book. You are not going to get Stephen King to coach you on writing horror. J.K. Rowling will not offer to teach you to be a better MG/YA Fantasy writer.

There is nothing wrong with shooting for the stars but you must be realistic sometimes. Maybe you can’t get a bestselling, well-known, popular author to be your mentor. That is the case for 99% of the authors who have a mentor. Why not ask a proven, but lesser-known developmental or line editor to be your mentor? Or an independent author who sells decently and whose work you admire? You do not have to commit to one mentor throughout your writing career. If the mentor you choose (and accepts you) gets to a point that they feel you could benefit from the help of someone with a higher skill set, they will help you find a new mentor.

This may be one of the most important aspects of finding a mentor. Expect someone with actual writing skills, professionalism, and experience to guide you – but don’t feel you are immediately entitled to help from a masterclass writer.

How To Ask A Mentor To…Mentor You

Just like asking someone if they want to be friends or asking a person out on a date, respectful and polite behavior are key, and that goes without saying. But there are some key points you need to consider before approaching the person you want to mentor you.

  1. Do. Your. Research. Don’t show up “empty handed.”
  2. Will this person be open to taking on the role of mentor?
  3. Approach with a positive, enthusiastic attitude.
  4. Be prepared to take “No” for an answer.
  5. Make a case, not a demand.
  6. Tell them why you think you’d be a good writer to mentor.
  7. Tell them why you chose them to mentor you.
  8. Have a plan/timeline/schedule/method for mentoring set up before you ask.

First and foremost, have you researched what it means to be a mentee and have a mentor? Did you research the person you are going to ask to be your mentor? Do you know what they do in the writing world? Do you know about their career? What do you admire about them and their work? Why will you be a good mentee to their mentor role? Do you know if they would even be open to mentoring a writer? Have you thought about how the mentorship will work–especially if you are not geographically close to each other to meet? What are your different time zones (if you are able to get this information in a non-creepy way), how long do you feel you will need to be mentored? When will you “meet” to discuss your work and get critiques? Will this be Skype? Phone calls? Email? DMs? Are you close enough to meet in person periodically?

When you approach a mentor – have your research done, a plan formulated for how the mentorship will work, tell them why you would be an excellent mentee (this is the time to gas yourself up – don’t be self-deprecating. EVER.). Tell them why you chose them and make sure to mention what you like about their career that you think will make them a good mentor. Don’t be disingenuous, but complimenting a mentor’s work, professionalism, integrity, or work ethic never hurts.

Do this all with a positive, enthusiastic attitude – people love to work with positive, enthusiastic people – but make a case for the mentorship, don’t make it sound like you’re demanding their help. Explain all of your research and plans, why you two are a good fit, and why mentoring you is a good idea for the mentor. A mentor should only have to tweak your ideas for the mentorship, not develop a plan themselves. This is about helping you…so don’t be a jerk and not do most of the work.

Ultimately, you are selling yourself. Making a case that you are the mentee this writer has been waiting for their entire career. Don’t be arrogant – but make sure the potential mentor knows your strengths, your drive, your passion for writing, how hard working you are, your level of commitment…don’t be afraid to be your own hype man.

What If I’m Afraid?

Being afraid to approach a writer, especially one you admire, is totally understandable. There are many writers who, if I met them, I might not remember how to speak. Salman Rushdie being at the top of the list. It does you no good to tell you that there is no reason to be nervous or afraid since most writers will be very kind when you approach them for a mentorship. If you are afraid, you are afraid.

One solution is to employ a third party to approach the person you wish to mentor you. However, this can be seen as a big red flag by the writer/mentor, so it is not always the best idea. Not approaching the writer yourself may make it seem like you are not passionate, ambitious, or strong enough for the writing world. Some writers might find it endearing. Your research into your mentor may tell you if this solution is okay or not.

I advise that you should almost always approach a mentor yourself. A third party intervening on your behalf is usually only a good idea if they thought of the idea to match you up with a mentor on their own. But this is a decision you will have to make based on what you know about the potential mentor.

There are other solutions if you are afraid of asking someone to mentor you.

The AWP (The Association of Writers & Writing Programs) has a Writer to Writer Mentorship Program you can apply to be a part of as a mentor or mentee. As of this posting date, it is free. You only have to submit an application and 10 pages of your work (or 5 to 10 poems) to be matched up with a mentor. There is no guarantee you will be accepted and mentored by another writer, but it is a less fear-inducing way of trying to find a mentor.

Are you a horror writer? The Horror Writers’ Association has a mentorship program as well. They do require that you are a member in good standing (the yearly fee is $75 for an individual – which is prorated if you join later in the year) before you can apply. And you will have to submit “polished work” of 2-3 poems, a short story, or the first few chapters of a novel/novella.

Lastly, the National Novel Writing Month organization can help connect you with the writing community and mentors. For example, during “Camp NaNoWriMo,” they have “Camp Counselors” to help you along. By using their open discussion forums you may also be able to match yourself with a mentor.

If all else fails, you can always post to the #WritingCommunity on Twitter to ask for guidance. Sometimes you will not get a response (Twitter is glitchy often and it depends on traffic as to whether or not people will see your tweet) but other times, you will get dozens or hundreds of people in the community who are excited to help a fellow writer.

How To Keep Your Mentor

So…you have a mentor. How do you make sure that they will want to keep mentoring you until there is no longer a need?

  1. Do not be defensive or “check out.”
  2. Don’t be a punching bag.
  3. Communicate openly and honestly.
  4. Learn to express yourself eloquently and succinctly.
  5. Develop mutual respect.
  6. Have a strong work ethic.
  7. Don’t make the mentor do all of the work.
  8. Respect your mentors schedule and other obligations.
  9. Know how to communicate your schedule and other obligations clearly.

If you are wanting to be mentored, you should have already realized that a mentor is going to critique your work. Go into this partnership with the understanding that no critique is personal. Be an active listener, be willing to learn, do not get defensive with your mentor. And never, never, never, mentally “check out” if you get discouraged. Tell your mentor you feel discouraged so that you can work together in how best to convey critiques. Conversely, if you find yourself paired with a mentor who seems to love being antagonistic (and that is not your style), tell them so. Stand up for yourself. If your mentor cannot respect your boundaries, then maybe they are the wrong mentor. This all has to do with communicating in an open and honest (but respectful) way with each other. You are basically a “couple” now. Talk to each other. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind or read between the lines. When you communicate something, do it eloquently and succinctly. Your mentor needs to understand you…but they also don’t have time to read 10 page emails or DMs every day about your feelings, either. One way to run off a mentor is to make them feel as though you think their whole life is about mentoring and supporting you.

Develop respect for each other through communication, respectful behavior, a strong work ethic, and pulling more than your share of the weight. Do not ever make your mentor think they are more committed to the partnership than you are. If they are the one always reaching out to talk about your work, they will quickly stop doing that and leave you to find a new mentor. However, make sure to talk to your mentor about what they feel is too frequent communication. Maybe 1 email/DM a day is good. Maybe you will have a weekly meet up. Maybe you two will really “click” and constantly communicate with each other. Make sure you are both on board with your plans and expectations.

Lastly, a mentor is a living, breathing person with work, goals, dreams, aspirations, family, friends, and responsibilities of their own. Respect that. Do not get fussy with them if they do not respond to an email/DM/phone call immediately. They are mentoring you out of the kindness of their heart, so treat them well. Respect that they will not always be available at the drop of a hat but will respond as soon as they are able. A mentorship can turn into a lifelong professional relationship. Nurture it. Never abuse it.

Conversely, you have responsibilities, too. Make sure your mentor knows about your personal and professional obligations away from writing so that if you are busy at certain times, they know why.

When Will I No Longer Need My Mentor?

Well…I will have to write a post about this sometime in the future. I have been with my mentor for over 3 years, currently have 13 published books, and I still feel like a baby author. There is no hard and fast rule about what length of time is best for a mentorship. If you and your mentor are happy with your partnership, you are constantly learning and improving, and it doesn’t get to a point where you feel like you are being held back, keep the mentorship going. Personally, I love that my mentor keeps me grounded and gets onto me when he knows I am not doing my best (for whatever reason). My mentor and I have been together so long we fight like a married couple…so we’ll probably be together forever. At least, that is my hope.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

I’m A Sinner, I’m A Saint (Don’t Bother Asking If I’m Ashamed)

Recently, I was asked about a weekly themed post I make on my Twitter account. The post is almost always on Fridays, mentions how it is the weekend, and I have more time to sin – and it includes a .gif of Jared Padalecki doing a funny dance. The .gif is so fun, I will include it for reference:

The question about these posts was: ” Aren’t you afraid by referring to gay sex as a ‘sin’ it might be triggering to gay YA who might read you or other LGBT who struggle from conversion therapy or religious ideologies in their life?”

I responded with: “Simple answer – no.”

The complex answer is this:

Religion and God were a big part of my life for a very long time. Now, only God gets my attention. For years, like the people referenced in the question, I was told by God’s “good people” that being LGBTQ+ was wrong, that we were sinners, going to Hell…repent, repent repent. God did not love us the way that we are. I never believed these things. I would hear someone say these things, smile, nod, and continue on with my day, secure in my relationship with and faith in God. A priest or preacher or even a Pope cannot speak for God – and they certainly will not tell me which way my moral compass should point. Especially since so many of them have covered up sex crimes against children. Their moral compasses are definitely off, so I refuse to take advice from them about my life.

When I say that I am “going to sin” it is with a nudge and a wink – a sarcastic, ironic statement that “Imma be me.”

Look at me! I’m sinning! Tee-hee!

I’m taking something horrible that was said to me and reclaiming it as my own. I am trying to tell all of my LGBTQ+ family that these “sins” religious people may speak of are ones they made up in their own heads. Do not let them have power over you.

In my Twitter bio, I state that I am a “mostly harmless smartass.” I’m also a kind person and I try to be kind to everyone I encounter (if I can’t, I tend to just be quiet). When I say something sarcastically or use irony, I know that people mistake it for my normal, frequent earnestness. However, this is not the case when it comes to my weekly post about “sinning” for the weekend. I’m looking up at God with a wink, saying:

Look at these jerks who think they can speak for you.

So…you don’t need my blessing, but sin all you can all day, everyday, my amazing, wonderful friends. If love is a sin, then it is God’s favorite sin.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Let’s Get Real

If there’s one thing everyone knows about me from my (minimal) online presence, it’s that I do not provide a lot of personal information about myself. Due to factors beyond my control, I have to stay somewhat private about my personal life. The handful of people who know me in person AND online knew me before I became “Chase Connor,” so there was really nothing I could do about that. At first, that really bothered me since I am an ENTJ (apparently) and I really do love people and being socially active (mostly). I’m always on the verge of saying: “Screw this. I’m inviting everyone to my apartment for an LGBTQ+ Writing Community party!” Alas, that is just not possible. Especially since a lot of you are not even remotely close to where I live.

It just is what it is, I suppose.

My persona online is not a persona–though I do write under a pen name–I behave as I would “in the real world” while I am online. Sometimes that translates well and other times, it doesn’t. But that is another thing I can’t control. I can only work on it. The person you encounter on Twitter is who I am, though you won’t get the full, annoying, effusive, bundle of energy and nonstop talking that you would in real life. You can thank me later.

Regardless, I still get asked quite a bit how much of myself shows up in my books and stories. In fact, a few nights ago, a friend told me that Teddy from The Guy Gets Teddy came off as having a thought process and mental phrasing that reminds them of me. The whole character is not like me but aspects of him are similar to who I am in real life. That’s accurate, I guess.

I think all writers inject aspects of their internal self into a character or characters. It’s an occupational hazard, making characters think, feel, react, and behave the way that you do.

So…how much do writers take from themselves and put into their stories? It’s something I have always been curious about, though I’ve never actually asked other writers this question.

For me, I would have to say that the only book I’ve written (besides erotica) that doesn’t really reflect me or my life at all is The Gravity of Nothing. Of course, I’m grateful for that. I don’t think anyone wants their life to resemble that book at all. Not that I am not proud of the book…but it is definitely not happy or lighthearted in any way.

In other books, like Just a Dumb Surfer Dude, Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 2: For the Love of Logan, Gavin’s Big Gay Checklist, A Tremendous Amount of Normal, and GINJUH, I paid homage to parents, grandparents, siblings, and other wonderful people I’ve been privileged enough to have had in my life. Most of them are no longer with us.

When it comes to my stories, you might notice that God is mentioned a lot. Religion, not as much, but God has a cameo in most of the books. I do not want to preach one spirituality or religion to anyone (especially since I no longer belong to any specific religion), but a belief in and relationship with God is a big part of who I am. God and (for many years of my life) religion connected me to people I loved who are no longer with me. Giving up my religion was a defining moment in my life since it made me feel like I was giving up the last connection I had to some of the people who are no longer with us. So…I find comfort in still having faith in and a relationship with God.

I guess that’s where I show up most in my stories. Odd for LGBTQ+ stories, I know, and I get some criticism for it from time to time, but it helps me feel like I am being my most authentic writer self.

I cannot say that I am much like any of my characters in any of my books. I have a feeling that a lot of writers would have that exact same answer. We use our experiences to help make characters more authentic, but they are still their own “people.” Sometimes they are better people than we are and sometimes they are worse. Hopefully, they seem authentic either way.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

The Root of the Character

Do you know what scares me the most?

Character development is something that I wanted to write about (again) today. Often, as writers–and even readers–we think about what defines a character in very limiting terms. Motivations are something we almost always put at the forefront of what makes a character who they are. Character A is going on this great journey to find a pirate’s treasure. To win the hand of their greatest love. To defeat the evil wizard and save the kingdom. To win the favor of the king or queen and be the hero. To win a singing competition and get a recording contract. I could go on and on forever about things a character could be motivated by. Things that are superficial on their surface.

Additionally, I could write about deeper motivators, like emotions, that propel characters. The love of their partner, their family, their children. Greed and lust and envy. Fear of one outcome over another. Motivation for a character is important to a story. It is the catalyst for the character doing the most interesting things in the story. If a character was not in love with the princess held prisoner in a castle by a fearsome dragon, they would not traverse the kingdom at great risk to life and limb just to save her. Of course, maybe the character is more motivated by the acclaim they will receive by accomplishing the feat, but that is neither here nor there. They still had an emotional motivation that made them do action A, action B, so on and so forth.

Emotions are probably the biggest motivating factors to characters.

What scares me most is hope. Let me explain.

Imagine a character who has been working at the same company for five years. Putting in overtime, taking on extra work, busting their hump, trying to prove their worth. Their boss says they are going to get a promotion that they have been begging for over a year. It seems as if all of the hard work and sacrifice is going to pay off. FINALLY. Then the time comes…and they are declined their promotion. They are told: “We need to see improvement in this area” or “that area.” Their bosses tell them to try again and maybe they will get promoted “next time.” So…the character sets off working even harder. Longer hours, more blood, sweat, and tears. They sacrifice even more. They know that next time–next time–they will get that promotion. Two years pass…and they are denied the promotion again.

What motivates them now? Hasn’t hope turned into a poison? The thing that burrows into their soul, leaves a bitter taste at the back of their throat, makes going to work each day absolute torture?

Of course…maybe the character starts looking for a new job. Maybe the story was not so much about a character finally getting a promotion that they have worked seven years to get–but instead, being motivated by disappointment to find a better job. Somewhere they are appreciated and treated well. Maybe the story ends, not in a promotion, but with an entire new life and direction for the character.

Do you ever do this as a writer? Do you ever really dig deep and wonder what is the real and true motivation behind a character’s actions? Maybe you are, in fact, writing about a knight who is traveling across a dangerous kingdom to slay a dragon and save a princess. But…what is really motivating them? Maybe the knight wants the fame and notoriety? Maybe the knight wants to find the love of their life? Maybe the knight was simply bored? Or maybe the knight hoped that this adventure, this quest to beat all quests, would add meaning to their life?

And maybe when the knight pulls off their helm in the princess’ tower to give her a kiss, the knight is a woman, not a man. And the princess is totally okay with that. In fact, she is relieved. This is what she has hoped for, too. That would be cool. I would read that story.

But I digress.

Maybe this knight (male or female) gets to the castle, slays the dragon, ascends the tower…and is met by a guy with a mushroom for a head and is told: “We’re sorry. Your princess is in another castle.”

Hope got us again! *shaking fist*

Hope is what drives most characters. Even when we they are disappointed time and time again. Hope scares the shit out of all of us because we all know disappointment. We’ve all been passed over for a promotion. been told we weren’t good enough, got turned down for a date, lost a game, did poorly on a test we studied really hard for, or been told that our favorite pastry is completely sold out at our favorite bakery. But, as humans, we all keep working, we all try to do better, we keep asking romantic interests out, we keep playing the games we love, we study harder, and we go back to the bakery the next day a little earlier.

Hope is universal. It knows no gender. No race. No ethnicity. No religion. No sexual orientation. Hope is perpetually in the back of our minds, overriding those evil voices that tell us to give up or “this is good enough.”

So…maybe consider what your characters hope for most. What are they afraid to wish for the hardest? I promise you’ll learn more about your character than you ever thought you would. Maybe you will also learn a little about yourself…and how strong you can be.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Writer’s Workshop Giveaway!

I know that I’ve been teasing a “special” for all of my writer friends on Twitter…and the day has finally come! More than likely, you were directed here by my Twitter post, so you already know a little bit about what is going on. However, in case you didn’t pay attention:

Chase Connor Books and So You Want To Write have partnered to give away a FREE seat in a Writer’s Workshop. This workshop is about how to write and sell your book, led by literary agent Sam Hiyate!

It will teach you how to write a synopsis for shopping your book, teach you mistakes you can make that will turn off a publisher, how to know when your manuscript is ready for a publisher, how to choose the right agent and publisher, and tips for querying agents. You’ll also be given a chance to ask questions of Sam Hiyate! Even more importantly, Mr. Hiyate will teach you how to “marry your book’s story, plot, character arcs, voice, and point of view to help it sell.”

So…what do you have to do? Go to the link provided below, enter your name and email address. That’s it. You do not have to join anything, sign up for anything, pay for anything…this is simply a chance for you to win a seat in a 3-hr workshop with a literary agent with 30 years experience.

No. Strings. Attached. This is a partnership between Chase Connor Books and So You Want To Write as a “thank you” to the amazing writers in the #WritingCommunity who inspire me daily.

Important things for you to know:

  1. I will not be given your information. No names, no email addresses. Nothing.
  2. I will receive no monetary compensation.
  3. No one is required to buy anything from Chase Connor Books or SYWW.
  4. You do not have to share video of yourself when attending the workshop. You may keep the level of privacy you are comfortable with.
  5. Your manuscript does not have to be complete to join (even if you only have an idea and you are a writer, you can sign up).
  6. This workshop is open to any and all wordsmiths. Full stop.
  7. If you think this workshop is right for you…it’s right for you.
  8. The workshop will take place Saturday, July 27th at 12pm EST/GMT-4.

So…what are you waiting for? Go sign up. Click the link below. Good luck to everyone and I can’t wait to see who wins–just know that I will expect a full report about how much fun you had in the workshop afterward!

SIGN UP FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THE SEAT!

Don’t forget to share and retweet to let all of your writer friends know about this opportunity, too!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Build-A-Character & Story

A man has a congenital brain defect.

He has been on medication and had multiple surgeries throughout his life.

You would never know because brain surgeries generally mean that the scalp and skull were cut into and when hair grows back…

He is now in his 20s.

Both of his parents are dead.

He had two siblings.

They are both dead.

He is standing outside of a seasonal market, geared towards tourists, in the city in which he lives, alone, with no friends, no family.

He is alone in this world.

Then he spots an American tourist being screwed over by a vendor.

His name is Daniel. The American tourist, we later find out, is named Patrick.

Daniel is in love with Patrick the moment he lays eyes on him. A need to be the hero fills his head and he jumps into action, helping the American tourist with the vendor, feeling that this will make them fall madly into love and live happily ever after. So…he springs into action.

Now what?

That is the question that kills a lot of us writers. We have thought of a character, given them a little backstory, thought of the catalyst for our plot/story…but we do not know where to go from there. Is what we have now enough to make an entire novel? A novella? Novellete? Short story? What can we do with this information the muse at the furthest corners of our brains has whispered to us desperately, urging us to write this idea as though our lives depend upon it?

But, really, what are we to do with this limited information about a character we know a little bit about and a character we know very little about? What is there for us to create a story with?

My, gosh. There is so much to create a million different versions of a story with those few sentences. Does Daniel helping make Patrick light up, smile brilliantly, offer to buy him a coffee, which leads to a personalized tour of the city Daniel gives that lasts all night long? Do they end up on a park bench, sat close together, the sides of their legs hesitantly touching as they watch the sun rise? Do they share their deepest dreams and desires, knowing in their heart of hearts that they will end up together? Do they confess their attraction for each other? Do they kiss as the sun just starts to peek over the horizon and paints the city gold?

Maybe Patrick tells Daniel to mind his own business at the market? Thus begins an antagonistic relationship where they become lovers. Or, at least, friends.

Possibly, Daniel helps Patrick, Patrick says “thanks” and they go their separate ways. Daniel is left to walk the city alone all night, pondering what might have been if he had been more forward. He daydreams and fantasizes about a life that will never be with this beautiful man he saw in the market. Then he sits alone on the park bench and watches the sun rise, a renewed man, ready to find love so that he is no longer alone in the world.

Perhaps Daniel confesses his attraction almost immediately, but Patrick says that he is straight. But they still spend the night touring the city together, talking about their lives, divulging the smallest details that build the foundation of their lives. When they part, the following morning, the city turned gold by the sun sneaking back into the world, they share a warm hug or handshake. Patrick is inspired by the kindness of someone who no longer feels like a stranger, but more like a friend, and Daniel remembers that he is not alone in the world.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

All of these stories would be amazing. They are character driven. Any of these versions of this story would be something that I would read because any of them would help me to understand the characters and provide a glimpse into a life that might help me understand the world and people better.

As writers, we sometimes have to let our characters lead. Sometimes we have to let the story lead the characters…but we must never fall into the trap that “what the writer says goes” because therein lies madness.

When we try to force our characters and stories to unfurl in the way that we imagined, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Our minds contain multitudes. We are filled with the voices of the universe, wanting to help us understand the world and humanity better. Why would we fight against it?

Find your character. Then let them tell a story. That is the best advice I have for how to avoid writer’s block.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase