Chapter 8 of 22 from James Patterson

Writer's Block

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Even when you've written as many books as James has (76 best sellers and counting), there's still nothing scarier than staring at the blank page. Here's how to conquer those fears.

Topics include: Freight train through • How James writes • Stay focused • Take a break • Take it seriously • Practice, practice, practice

Even when you've written as many books as James has (76 best sellers and counting), there's still nothing scarier than staring at the blank page. Here's how to conquer those fears.

Topics include: Freight train through • How James writes • Stay focused • Take a break • Take it seriously • Practice, practice, practice

James Patterson

James Patterson Teaches Writing

James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.

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Set out to write a best-selling book

James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, reveals his tricks of the trade for the very first time. In this course, he guides you through every part of the book writing process.

22 lessons totaling 3+ hours of video from James covering everything from starting your outline to getting published.

Each video lesson is paired with notes, reading materials, and assignments to make sure you get the most out of your class.

Submit your rough drafts and assignments for feedback from other students taking the class (and possibly James himself!).

Reviews

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Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class is amazing and i know it will help all those gifted wrighters out there

I was motivated to make time for my writing. Every couple of months, I go back through the videos to motivate me to wake up in the morning with a tune to do the same thing day after day. Thank you.

Found James Patterson to be as interesting and entertaining in person as he is as a writer. Down to earth presentations full of expert advice.

Persistence pays off. I've been writing for quite a few years and have been going through a period of low confidence. Mr. Patterson helped bring everything back into perspective! Thank you!!

Comments

Jon F.

In the sub-section "How James Writes" at the 3:26 mark he said the following: "I write on every other line, I have an assistant who is now legally blind from trying to read my handwriting. She will type up stuff send it back to me. Once I get it typed up it will be triple spaced. I write between the lines, when I'll do a draft a second draft, when I write between the lines and I only, when I am going over that draft, I only read what I just wrote, I assume that everything that I left there is just fine; which means that I can kind of do a second draft of that draft in no time." As you watch him talk about this part of his process you can see through his mannerisms that in his mind's eye what he is describing is very clear to him. However, I am not confident that I understand the procedural part of the process. I am trying to create a step by step (procedures) of this portion of the process. I would be interested in different perspectives on what is being taught. Note: to me this is how I define process. Process = Vision/Goals + Systems/Tools + Procedures + Buy-in/commitment. For a writer systems can be calendaring, reminders, email, etc. Tools can be legal yellow pads of paper, a laptop, printers, software, etc. When it comes to process the most important element is buy-in. You have to get those people who are going to follow your process to buy-in that it will accomplish the desired results. If you don't have buy-in the process won't work over the long term. Trust The Process!

Tyra M.

Two things, first, this lesson seemed weird because I was thinking all weekend that I have to again go through my routine and remove the things that have been distracting me. And the assignment is literally that. Wow (especially for a Monday). Second, what Mr. Patterson said about not getting writers block, I'm like that. If I can't keep going, the words won't come, I learned (for me) that means I've made a mistake and I have to do some editing. When I trust myself and go back I usually find the error in the previous chapter or what I wrote alters something earlier that's important to the over all plot. If the new thing is better, I change the previous stuff, if the old is better, I go back to it; either way, the words will flow again. Mr. Patterson mentions taking a break and exercise. I need to add more of both, right now my breaks are doing housework, driving to work, or stopping to deal with customers at work (lol). (Since my jobs all involve me sitting most of the time and my passion, writing does the same, lol, you know where this has led... )

Mariam O.

My daily routine is hard to remain a ROUTINE! As for being a Ballet instructor, i have different time plans everyday. Some days i start in the early morning others i wait till evening. But my MOST FAVORITE time to write is when i wake up @06:30, i finish my prayers, prepare my stuff, get dressed and have a 20-30 minutes walk in the fresh air. i arrive to Starbucks by 08:00. Watching people having their coffee to go as they're heading to work really inspires me to write alot. Also i looooove to write when i'm at the beach. Music for me is not very necessary 'cause most of the time i choreograph instead of focusing on any other thing :D But what really keeps me focused is my inner voice.... when the narrator speaks wherever i am, i write at once... if i can't reach my pen & note, i use the notes on my iphone.. i just know that when i start, i can't stop till it's done.

Nicole F.

I like to write in a notebook first and then when I get to a stopping point, I go and type it on the computer and flesh it out and usually finish the chapter that way. I like classical music in the background, but usually I have to block the football games that my husband loves to watch. I need to invest in noise-canceling headphones, because I tend to start watching the games with him. Major distraction.

Catherine B.

Yellow legal pads and pens! AWESOME! I use notebooks and pens. I'm glad to hear someone famous is lo-tech too.

Francesca P.

I think my main problem is that when I try too hard to write anything brilliant, I just end up forcing myself and nothing good comes from it.

A fellow student

The funny thing is, that often while I'm writing I'll think 'This is really boring and not going anywhere' but when I come back to it the next day it's actually quite good. I write when I'm tired, so I just write what's in my subconscious mind, and I guess that makes it turn out kind of natural. Some people might say, 'Write drunk (and edit sober)' but I don't drink, so I guess I get drunk on fatigue. Like right now, I don't feel like I'm making much sense, but tomorrow I may think I've said something brilliant.

Edwin Rude

Flaubert was said to throw himself on the floor and basically had a temper-tantrum over not finding the right words. My block is that I spend 16-18 hours taking care of my wife (Parkinson's disease). In other words I need to wait till she's fallen asleep to do anything., including writing or watching this video.

Jeremy A.

It is frustrating to write flat. But I've found there are days that, if I keep making myself write, at times it will transform into something more lively, which is good.

Pureum K.

Wow so much wisdom. When I do research, I also try to focus and walk when I get stuck. I think I should watch nature videos as well to relax my mind!

Transcript

This is the enemy. The blank page. This is the, oh my god. And you'll see this so often in the movies. And I think a lot of screenwriters are frustrated novelists. And you've seen this 50 times in the movies. And that shouldn't happen. That's just, to me, bad writing. Where they write the first line and then they cross it out. And they write the first line again and they cross it out. And they write their first line again. I've seen that literally a dozen times. But there is a reality to it, which is that blank pages is troubling. Every author has a different approach, or many authors have a different approach. But I really recommend just crash through, freight train through, that first draft. Get that story down. Apparently, I guess Raymond Chandler had that process. I have that process. A lot of writers have that process. Get it down. I've seen writers who can write their first draft in a month. I can do the first draft in a month. At certain times, it's just flowing. And I'm not sure, I don't know if it's health related. I have no idea why. But sometimes it's just flowing, and it's working, and I can't write enough. And I'm amazed at how much I do in a very short period of time. And then there are times when I'll sit there and I'll write chapters and I'll go, it's all coming out flat for some reason. It's all coming out flat. And eventually something hits me and I go, OK. And I'll go back and polish stuff and suddenly raise the level. I don't know why that happens but it's certainly part of my process. Don't have blocks, partly because if I'm not getting it, I just put TBD and I get it on the next draft. Which is a useful and smart thing to do. Do not torture yourself, just go, I'll get it. And be confident that you'll get it. That's how people get blocked. They get to a point and it's like, oh my god, I can't get this chapter. And then you start obsessing on it and it's not coming and you get worried, and you get nervous, and you get panicked. It's sort of like this thing I guess that some couples go through and they can't get pregnant. They start pressing too hard and the mind starts getting tight and you know, it doesn't work. It's like, you're trying to do a sport and you get all tense. That's not going to work. You're going to strike out. So if you're not getting it, move on. Get it the next time. Or get it the time after that. I mean I've had times when I've gone through where that TBD would be on three or four chapters for a couple of drafts. I write seven days a week. I get up early in the morning. I'll very quickly go through two or three newspapers. I have a cup of coffee and I'll go through those in 15 minutes. You know, I have my little pass through the newspapers in terms of the things that I always want to read about. And the...