Writer’s Unblock

Writer’s Unblock

ABOUT a month and a half ago, I decided to bite the bullet and start writing again. I had been postponing doing so for years because I know myself—I can get pretty single-minded in my focus, and it’s hard to break from writing when you’re in a groove, hard to stop thinking about the story as you’re trying to complete other tasks. So while I didn’t have actual Writer’s Block, I was blocking myself from writing because I was afraid of it consuming all of my free time.

Yes, I know. BAD WRITER! How could I continue to call myself one if I refused to actually write? And it’s rather funny that what “unblocked” me was a logo design project for a client with my Graphic Design endeavor, FORGE. One of the options I presented to the client was a logo for Wonderspark—I am forever grateful that the client went with DreamQuest, because I kept staring at the logo I presented for Wonderspark and a whole story started to unravel.

And haunt. And pester. And then the characters started presenting themselves, and it got to a point where I could no longer avoid them or the story they wanted me to tell. Little by little, I started doodling and scribbling. Notes. Character descriptions. Place inspirations. Plots. Subplots. And at that point I realized I needed a better way to organize my notes and doodles and scribbles.

As if to answer me, the Universe gave me a well-placed ad for a software I had yet to hear of—Plottr. As I learn the program better, I hope to offer tutorials on how to best use it, but in the meantime, it’s a great tool for plotting out your story—either using pre-made templates or your own. You can organize characters, settings, notes, research, etc—all in one place, which can easily be exported to Scrivener and other writing tools.

GETTING back into has been both exhilarating and frustrating—exciting because it’s been a long time coming, but a bit difficult getting back into the flow due to the long hiatus I took. It’s like taking time off from the gym (I may have done that, too… SSHHH!), and when you get back to it, muscle memory eventually kicks in, but not without the soreness. It’s like rekindling a long-lost passion, rediscovering a part of yourself that may have been neglected amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Whether it’s journaling, crafting short stories, writing a poem, or tackling that novel idea that’s been lingering in the back of your mind, returning to the written word offers a sense of fulfillment and creative expression that few other pursuits can match. It’s been cathartic and has definitely elicited a fair amount of smiles lately, like a missing part of me has returned, one that has been wandering and lost and has finally spotted the porch light through the thicket of trees, beckoning it to return home. I’m excited to share my progress as I write my new series, delving into the exciting venture of plotting with Plottr (I can’t rave enough about this program!) and finally knocking out the manuscripts scene by scene.

PART of me hates that I am not revisiting old projects, dusting off half-finished manuscripts or abandoned notebooks, and breathing new life into them. Unfortunately, the chance to reconnect with characters and stories that have been waiting patiently for their voices to be heard will have to wait a bit longer. For now, I am moving forward with a new project, a 7-book, YA Urban Fantasy series called Echoes of Eden, which is a re-imagining of the Prometheus myth. Sometimes the newness of building a new world, embracing the blank page and exploring new ideas, letting creativity flow without constraints or expectations, is a lot less daunting than re-visiting a world you more or less abandoned—the guilt alone can create focus blocks.

Echoes of Eden follows twin protagonists, Asher “Ash” & Ember McKenna, who navigate everyday conflicts most teenagers face while also facing more other-wordly conflicts, such as stumbling upon a dimensional rift, discovering a hidden world of magic, and uncovering their family’s hereditary ties to a secret society of artifact hunters and protectors. The series is intertwined with themes of Light versus Dark & Good versus Evil, pulling from ancient myths & stories of the Garden of Eden, the spark/fire of Creation, and even the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

I soft-plotted the story arc, which (at the moment) stretches over seven books; it will change as I write them, of course, but at least I have a route planned even if I decide to take a different path to the same destination. You might say it’s a bit ambitious, but I wanted to give myself room for the story to develop and grow at a good pace without feeling rushed to cram it all in fewer.

The first book, Wonderspark, opens up just before a mysterious stranger shows up at the McKenna residence. Summer plans with their parents are cancelled as they are called away for an impromptu dig in the Pyrenees, and the twins, Asher and Ember, are forced to spend the summer with their grandparents on the quaint island town of Willowycke. When their parents go missing, their stay with their grandparents is extended.

The story picks back up three years later; Ash & Ember lead seemingly ordinary lives until a chance encounter with a mysterious rift thrusts them into the hidden world of magic. As they navigate newfound abilities and uncover family secrets, they discover their pivotal role in the age-old battle between light and shadow. With the help of their grandparents and a band of allies, the twins embark on a thrilling journey to uncover the truth about their parents’ disappearance and unlock the secrets of the Wonderspark. But as dark forces gather and ancient prophecies unfold, Asher and Ember must harness their newfound powers and embrace their destiny before it’s too late. The fate of both worlds hangs in the balance, and only they can unleash the true magic of the Wonderspark.

Over the course of writing (but without giving too much away), I hope to share some of the world-building—settings, mythos, characters, et cetera—as I build it, as it builds itself. It’s been nice re-entering the writing world with tools I didn’t have before—like the aforementioned Plottr, Scrivener, and even Artificial Intelligence.

Now I know there are a lot of naysayers of AI, but before you jump to conclusions, know that I am not using it to actually write the manuscript, but instead using tools like Midjourney, where I can feed in descriptions and have the prompts spit out beautiful renderings of my characters so I can upload the images into the other tools and reference them frequently while plotting and writing. And, let me tell you, seeing life breathed into my characters who normally only live in the written word and in my mind, makes the world that I am building more tactile. More tangible. More real. And living within it becomes a lot easier, which makes writing within it that much more believable because it’s no longer just in my head.

AS a treat, I am going to reveal the renderings of the two main protagonists of the series, Asher Rune McKenna and Ember Reign McKenna. The first of each set is how I initially described them into the prompts of Midjourney, which is how they look at age 13 in the opening chapter of the first book; the second of the set is how they look three years later when the second chapter opens. I was blown away at not only the precision at how my descriptions were executed, but also the character continuance of the characters being fraternal twins, and in seeing the aging process to my description while still keeping the physical features of the younger character in mind.

Asher Rune McKenna
Asher @ Age 13
Ash @ Age 16
Ember Reign McKenna
Ember @ Age 13
Ember Reign McKenna
Ember @ Age 16