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Smashing Writer's Block with Melissa Lux

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Jay
Jul 15 2021
6 min read
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Melissa Lux is a fiction writer, screenwriter, and novelist living in the New Mexico desert. Her first book, Following Fish, was published on Wattpad and a top read in the Observations Story genre. She was co-creator and writer of the web series 30 Days Max with her Emmy award-nominated cousin. She’s currently working as a full-time ghostwriter, penning a new novel for a large publishing company. And she’s a published poet in Defenestration Magazine, for her hilarious ballad poem about the bassoon.

So you’re an experienced writer, you’ve been on the writing journey for a long time and written for a variety of mediums. How’d you find your way to Wordloops?

What led me to Wordloops was community. When I lived in New York, I was part of a writers group. We were writing all the time together, we’d have group meetups, we’d have one on one meetups, we had a class together. I was in this sort of cohort of people, and I got a lot of energy from being with this group. And then when we moved back to New Mexico there was a real void for me in terms of having that connection. I went to a few writers groups in town, nothing really clicked, and my writing practice just kind of fell off. I realized when I don’t have people around me doing the same thing, I’m less likely to do the thing. So when Wordloops came around, the idea of having people and structure in the same place, that was like magic. A magic formula.

I like that, it is like a magic formula. That’s how we think about it too and why we began to build it: structure to get you writing, people to keep you energized. Scott and I wanted to create that magic. It’s elusive, but it doesn’t have to be.
OK, so next question: how do you think about improving at writing? What’s your philosophy on getting better at the craft, the art of it?

My philosophy is that thinking about writing and actual writing have nothing to do with each other. If you’re sitting around and can think yourself through a problem, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to write yourself through a problem. But if you actually sit down and do the work on the page, do the writing, the answers will come. Things that you could never imagine in your non-writing brain will show up in your writing brain. And so for me, the writing philosophy is simple: just sit down every day, do the work, and see what shows up.

It does feel like just showing up and solving problems on the page is ninety percent of the battle. All the great writers say this, but you don’t learn it until you've earned the scars. What about blocks? Which ones do you struggle with, how do you deal?

It’s two or three things. One is directly related to thinking about writing. If I start thinking about my project too much, I get super overwhelmed and think that I’ll never be able to finish it. Because I’m not writing it. The second thing is like, a big, big heaping of imposter syndrome. I have no formal training in this, so who do I think am writing when there are people who have, you know, gone to school for this? And so that fear is real too.

I think the third block is sometimes I get scared that I just don’t have anything to say, I don’t have a unique point of view. And I think that’s where feedback really comes in handy, because even though my point of view may not feel unique to me, if I take writing to feedback, Wordloopers will see things that I don’t notice. So those are the blocks. I think the panacea is like, don’t disqualify yourself. Don’t judge yourself. You really are not qualified to judge your own work in that way. It’s finding ways to remind yourself of that constantly, knowing when to shut off your inner critic. Wordloops is really good for that.

Kindness and patience are so key. Good writing might look easy but it can feel like really grueling work. It reminds me of poker: many people don't realize that even the top pros are losing forty percent of the time they sit down to play. Both pursuits are so tough mentally. Most people don't go to work and get punched in the stomach almost half the time. You need to be kind to yourself, and very patient.
But I digress! What can you tell us about what you’re working on in Wordloops?

So I’m working on a couple of really fun things. I have a paid project that I’m working on. It’s my first time getting paid as a fiction writer, and the fact that an opportunity like that even exists out there just seems unreal to me. But I stepped into this great situation, where I’m working for a publishing company and we’re co-authoring a book together. The other author wrote an outline for the book, so I’ve got a lot of constraints, which actually makes it something like the world’s longest creative writing exercise. I’m having a lot of fun working within those constraints and solving those problems. Meanwhile, I’m working on a memoir piece, which is about three-quarters of the way through a first draft, and then I have two short stories that I’m kicking around.

Badass. Shows what you can get done if you make Wordloops a daily habit! Turns out, a lot of writing gets done when you structure it and schedule it in repeatable chunks. Last question: what’s different for you about going to Wordloops vs. say, if we all hopped on Zoom to write together?

There’s something about showing up to the space.

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It has that real world coffee shop feeling to it. It looks like one, and it feels like one. Like you’re showing up to your favorite coffee shop, maybe you’re going to see that regular you like a lot, maybe your favorite barista is working today. So for me, when I sign in, I’m excited. Who’s going to be there today? It’s that element of surprise.

And I also like the piano. Nobody ever uses it, but I do. It’s tucked in the back of the world. 😊


Follow Melissa on Twitter and come meet her at Wordloops!

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