To open the New Year, I’m taking part in the Dark Chapter Press writer’s block month. I’m a writer. So they blocked me. Okay, so that’s not what it means, and you damned well know it, especially if you’ve been struck with writer’s block, yourself (I never know whether I should use W and B – but it seems to make it too severe, like Tuberculosis for writers).

It’s a funny sort of subject, isn’t it? I live next door to a bakery (equally cursed and blessed, let me tell you), I’ve lived here for 2 years and not once have I gone past the place to find it devoid of cakes or bread because the bakers were struck by Baker’s Block. In my day-job (yes, believe it or not, I’m lacking several millions of the sales I need to go completely creative) if I turned up next Monday and say, “I can’t assess any portfolios today, I’ve got Assessors Block!” I’m pretty certain they would tell me to take some time off. Maybe a lot of time off… Which would be fine if I wasn’t still lacking those few million book sales…

So anyway, I’ve mentioned Dark Chapter Press above and mentioned them in previous posts. I say them, it’s really us, because I helped set it up! The month will see Q & As with new horror writers, like me, right through to heavyweights like Shaun Hutson. We’re all talking about the same subject: Writer’s Block and how to either avoid it, or overcome it.

I also got to set a little challenge or activity and I’ve included it below – it’s really gentle, really easy to do – and that’s the point. Writer’s block can be really stressful when you’re creative, but lacking that spark today for whatever reason. Complex ways of tackling it can be too much, so you just need a little nudge in the right direction. Even if you’re not blocked, my activity can help you start a new project off and at the very least, hopefully you’ll just end up being exposed to something interesting or fun.

Here goes:

Sometimes, in order to feel inspired to take on a new project, we need to change our influences. Some horror writers only read horror. Well, you can’t make a career out of rewriting someone else’s work. You need to get your brain moving.

You could tackle a new book in a genre you haven’t read for ages, or even one you’ve never entered before. In 2014, for instance, I dipped into the world of Steampunk, and it really opened my eyes to some new possibilities. Currently I’m reading recently reprinted 1930s crime novel A Mystery In White – I never read crime novels.

It may be that exposing your mind to a different horror writer might help, I found that reading my first Richard Laymon novel, The Stake, last month was a refreshing experience.

Really, though, for the purposes of this activity, I recommend you leave the horror genre behind, for 1 book. Haven’t got time to read a new book? Ok, go out and pick up a magazine you’ve never bought before and read it cover to cover. It can be anything – and for you guys out there, if you haven’t discreetly flicked through one of those bloody awful magazines that are a bit like the Jeremy Kyle show in print, then this might be just the excuse you need. You’ll find tons of horrible stories, awful people and grotesque situations. All you’ll need to do, is give it your own twist…

Let us know how you get on!

So there it is. If you give it a shot, be sure to comment on either the Dark Chapter Press blog, or here and let me know how you got on!

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