Getting Back on the Wagon as a Writer

note: This is a guest post from author Stephen Zimmer

Writing can involve periods of feast or famine when it comes to output, and many writers can find themselves in situations where they have largely ceased to write and create.  During such times, it can take a lot for a writer to get back on the wagon and start moving forward again. 

The reasons for these periods of shutdown can take many forms. 

For writers who still have to maintain other jobs to pay the bills, the demands of the workplace can become a primary reason as to why output slows to a trickle or even stops.  Increased hours, new responsibilities, changes in shifts, relocation, and many other things involving a regular job can conspire against a writer and leave them too exhausted or with little available time.

At other times, “life happens” events can result in a writer’s shutdown.  From the needs of children, to traumatic periods such as a death in a family, to the needs of a spouse or significant other, a great number of things can crop up in an unexpected fashion to shut a writer’s productivity down. 

Then, there are more internal obstacles that can arise.  Failure to reach a goal, such as a daily word count goal or a target date for finishing a manuscript, can have such a negative impact on a writer that they simply quit writing. 

I have witnessed all of the above time and time again among the writers I know and interact with.

No matter what the reason, getting back into the groove can be a challenge.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution for writers who find themselves in this situation.  A writer must find what works for them.

For myself, when I was in a really bad place following the passing of my mother in 2013, it was the emergence of a new character and accompanying story ideas that pulled me back into the writing chair.  That character was Rayden Valkyrie, and the ensuing novel Heart of a Lion.  Taking on something fresh and new gave me a clean slate to work in, which I think helped to a great degree in helping my mind get back on track.

I think there are many other approaches to try.  For the writer who might feel like a failure due to falling short of meeting self-imposed word count or manuscript goals, I would suggest setting aside those kinds of things and just focusing on writing regularly, no matter the volume of output.  Even a couple hundred words a day will keep you in a rhythm and writing mindset, something that is far more important than the volume of output on a given day.

If unavoidable demands of life or work are getting in the way, perhaps set your sights on finishing a shorter project, like a short story or novella.  Completing a project always has a good effect on a writer’s outlook and self-esteem, and it can also help mitigate friction that might build from resenting the job or elements in life that are creating obstacles for you. 

The good news is that a writer can get back on the wagon and start moving forward right away.  It does not cost money, it only needs a little investment in time, and requires only willpower.  Reconnecting with the creative elements within yourself will have the added benefit of positive results in your outlook and approach to the other things in your life. 

If you find yourself in an unproductive zone, do not hesitate to take that step today.  Once you have accomplished that, then put your focus to one day at a time and you will get back up on that wagon!

About the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre). Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot. Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

Stephen can be found on
Twitter: @sgzimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

Dark as a Dungeon- Mining in Appalachian Kentucky: Part 1


The following is a collection of quotes, paraphrases and thoughts I had while reading/watching the following:
They Say in Harlan County- An Oral History – Alessandro Portelli
– A fantastic oral history book, 100% recommended
The Devil Is Here in These Hills – James Green
– A decent book about the mine wars in the Appalachian region, mostly West Virginia. Only recommended if you find yourself really into this topic
Harlan County U.S.A. (Documentary)
– Oscar Winning documentary. Ends up focusing more on the labor strikes of the 70s and tying those into those of earlier generations. 100% recommended
The Mine Wars (Documentary)
– American Experience documentary. Focuses on the armed insurrections on area in WV and KY. 100% recommended
Harlan Miners Speak – Theodore Dreiser
– A heavily biased narrative put out by an activist in the 30’s to influence the public. I can’t recommend it as a history…

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SF: Harlan County Horrors, edited by Mari Adkins

Hillbilly Highways

Over the course of a life hard lived, the minder and the town and the mountain became as one, and no one ever left Harlan alive.

Country noir fits easily with horror.  What is scarier than a long, dark shaft in an abandoned coal mine?  Might our greed for the black stuff cause us to dig too deep?  Might the violence on the surface go beyond the natural into the supernatural?

I was delighted to learn that Apex released a collection of short horror stories set in Harlan County, Kentucky (originally famous for the coal mine labor strife featured in Harlan County, USA and more recently famous as the setting for neo-Western Justified).

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yeah, i borked it

My blog is broken. It’s not supposed to be all one big column like this. It’s supposed to be a nice, orderly column with a header and a nice orderly sidebar. I’m not sure how it got broken, but the code has to be somewhere inside the sidebar. I’ll work it out. I miss my blog!

Hhmm … May no longer be completely borked … Nice! :fingers crossed:

Bob Freeman’s “First Born” Blog Tour



I’ll be making the rounds all this week, promoting my occult detective collection, First Born, which is the opening chapter in my Liber Monstrorum Chronicles. As my appearances go live, I will update the blog roll accordingly.

Monday 3/12
Greg Mitchell’s The Coming Evil

Tuesday 3/13

Wednesday 3/14
Josh Reynold’s Hunting Monsters
Ginger Nuts of Horror’s “We’ve Got It Covered”

Thursday 3/15
Morgan Sylvia’s Through the Labyrinth

Friday 3/16
Sheila’s Guests and Reviews

Saturday 3/17
I Smell Sheep

Sunday 3/18
Jacob Floyd’s Ghosts and Monsters

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review: born of swords, by steven l shrewsbury


Born of Swords, Stephen Shrewsbury
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC (June 8, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1941706851
ISBN-13: 978-1941706855
Paper: $14.34, 324pp, trade paperback
Kindle: $3.99

Interviewing the biggest legend of them all, Gorias La Gaul, is a dream come true for Jessica, and she’s traveled quite a distance and lost several escorts along the way to meet Gorias in Segesta. The city is a stop along a route Gorias takes each year on a regular schedule. She’s an undergraduate scribe from Nineveh School, sent by Dr. Allard, a former instructor of Gorias’, in order to collect information for “a true transcript from [Gorias]” as “a valuable testament or an exciting chronicle for future generations” for posterity.

Gorias warns Jessica that his life and travels aren’t “a fantasy adventure, sweetheart” and goes on to tell her, “it’s horror, pure and simple.” To this she gives the simple reply, “I understand, Lord La Gaul,” truly not understanding what she’s gotten herself into.

The tales she collects are from of Gorias’ earliest days, back before he’d found his swords, to a time when a dragon needed killing. Tales back before his heart had hardened. Maybe. For a legend like Gorias La Gaul, even the past is up for debate. Along the way, they happen upon side adventures. Through these, and through the memories of Gorias she collects via stones called Eyes of the Dragon, she learns who Gorias really is. However, this doesn’t prepare her for the cold truth of his yearly, 600 mile pilgrimage.

Gorias La Gaul lives in three novels and in one collection – and this one isn’t to be missed. Through this adventure, through the little information he tells Jessica and through the Eyes of the Dragon stone, the reader learns more about the legend than we’ve known before. The reader is taken down into the gritty, ugly meat of what created the man who became the legend. For those readers who enjoy their fantasy infused with swords and madmen and a bit of sorcery, Born of Swords delivers these and more.

While I enjoyed this adventure very much, the narrative could have taken some extra editing. Most of the errors weren’t that jarring (misspellings, punctuation), but they were jarring enough to pull me from the story at times.

ShrewsburyAuthorPhotoBWSteven L. Shrewsbury lives, works and writes in rural Central Illinois. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s. His novels include Within, Philistine, Overkill, Hell Billy, Blood & Steel, Thrall, Stronger Than Death, Hawg, Tormentor and Godforsaken. Shrewsbury maintains a blog at and can be found on Facebook at

I give Born of Swords three out of five coffee cups.

Blog Tour Schedule and Activities

10/26 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author   Guest Post
10/26 Man’s Midnight Garden    Review
10/26 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews   Guest Post
10/27 Azure Dwarf    Review
10/28 Book in the Bag    Interview
10/29 Creatives Help Board.How may I direct your call?   Interview
10/30 WebbWeaver Reviews   Guest Post
10/30 Sheila’s Blog   Guest Post
11/1 Dice Upon A Time   Top-Tens List

Click on the badge below to read more about this book and this blog tour. Thanks for dropping by!