Discussion: The Key To Beating Writer’s Block – The Book Reviewer’s Edition

Discussion-ReviewBlockBefore I started writing book reviews, a quick browse on Goodreads assured past-me that it would be easy *laughs hysterically* What could be so hard about writing out your own feelings and opinion, after all?

Then I started blogging and was introduced to a new world of pain.  While there were a couple of reviews that came to me very easily; for every one of those, there’s three that took me half of forever to type up. While I’m relatively new, so I only have about 40 reviews under my belt, here are some reasons why I find certain books more difficult to write about!  (Also some suggestions on how to get over the writer’s block, for those who suffer the same predicament)

THE BOOK WAS BORING:

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A book I adored? Sure I can type for pages exulting the ways in which it blew my mind.

A book I disliked? Of course, I can rant about it in 500 words or more.

A book that was so boring I mentally checked out at 30% and was primarily skim reading?  Oops. There’s that blank word document I hate looking at again.  In such times, I wish one sentence saying ‘3 stars. It was OK’ was socially acceptable.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS: Highlight quotes or tab the pages that describes the world, the characters, great quotes.  They are so invaluable to kick start a book review when you draw a blank.
You could also group all the lacklustre books together and make a post of mini reviews, I have not done this before but I am sorely tempted.


THE PLOT WAS TOO COMPLEX:

splode

I try to give a little summary of the plot in my reviews, just to help my readers our (though I assume they are all bloggers and thus completely aware of the book I am describing, most of the time XD)  When the plot is overly complicated and makes my brain explode a little, I get so daunted by the review writing process.  I have great difficulties being concise, so my summaries – already unwieldy – becomes insufferably long. Just thinking about writing it makes me tired.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:  Use quotes from the book to help you out.  Better yet, make an infographics when things gets a bit too hairy for you to go into details, like I did for my review of Spark!


THE DREADED SEQUEL:

panic

For the most part, I feel very redundant when I write reviews of sequels. I’ve only written two in the short history of this blog. I’m always worried of sounding redundant or recycling too many points I have already mentioned in my previous books. This is an area I need more practice in, teach me your ways, fellow book bloggers.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:  Write the review of the sequel in a completely different format! Perhaps a list of things you loved/didn’t like? Or a nice selection of gifs?  Or just highlight new characters/setting/plot points that you adored. Anything fresh that will differentiate your new review to the old one.


THE BOOK THAT GAVE ME TOO MANY FEELS:

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Sometimes, a book reduces me to a puddle and I absolutely cannot string together coherent thoughts. Contemporary books do this to me a lot, this is why I avoid them for the most part.

Other times, I love a specific part of the book so much, that’s all I want to talk about! This happens when I find a new book boyfriend.  Then I feel bad that I neglected to mention other things such as plot in the review. Perspective, I need it.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS: Remember, your fellow fangirls would love to see all your emotions pour out onto the page so bust out the gifs, the CAPSLOCK, and the exclamation marks!
If the book really inspired you, you could do something special in the review e.g. Write a letter, write some poems (as I did for Bone Gap), base the review around graphics (as I did for All The Bright Places).


 THE BOOK I HAVE AN UNPOPULAR OPINION ABOUT

recoil

I am but a meek baby blogger, so I try to be nice, I do.  Whenever I dislike a book the general blogosphere love, I actually debate for ages before posting it.  I AM A WIMP. I DON’T WANT TO HURT FEELINGS. Extra awks if my friends are in love with it, it gives me flashback to the Twilight days of highschool.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:  Voice your opinion proudly, everyone loves the black sheep 😉  As long as you are fair in your review, no one will have beef with you.


Of course, there’s always just plain laziness.  In which case:

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You are not obliged to write reviews of every single book you read, I promise :D!

What about you? Do you have any reviews that are extra difficult for you to write? What are some tips you would recommend to fellow reviewer? Please share the wisdom!

71 thoughts on “Discussion: The Key To Beating Writer’s Block – The Book Reviewer’s Edition

  1. AHHH I hate boring books for this reason. So hard to come up with anything decent to say 😦 Most of the time I cheat and look at Goodreads reviews to help me decide how I felt about the book. That kick-starts my memory as well. Thank goodness I don’t put plot summaries in my reviews, though – I tend to skim QUITE often.

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    • Boring books are the worst of the list, I dread the review just as I am reading and skimming through the pages 😄 I think I might start ditching the summary and make my life a bit easier as well, haha.

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    • OH MY GOD ME TOO. I was about to say something about that in my post but then got too lazy/chickened out. I feel I am not a very critical or savvy reader, a lot of themes and symbolism definitely flies WAY over my head 😄

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  2. Accurate!! More often that not I have writer’s block when writing reviews for books I loved so so much because NO WORDS. But I love your tip about doing something special, like doing letters and poems. I think I’ll def employ those tips at some point. 😀

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    • I can’t wait to see you do a letter or a poem 😄 Sometimes it’s much easier than writing in coherent sentences! Thanks for stopping by, Hazel! I still get starstruck when I see your comment here haha.

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  3. YASSS this post! But seriously, now it takes me a week to write a review. I just keep revising and revising and revising it over and over. ;_; I’ve been stuck on my review for Gambit for five days! Bah.

    And I agree with Jenna wrt literary novels. People write the most profound and incredible reviews for them and mine just looks like a green potato in comparison.

    (Also the gif from Fresh Off the Boat – LOL.)

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    • A WEEK PER REVIEW? That is some dedication 😄 I take like 2 hours sometimes, but mainly cos I have to make graphics. BUT you do draw a whole new book cover everytime. I ADMIRE YOU.

      Yesss I am scared off by writing literary review – it reminds me of English class. And there are some things that just flies over my puny brain.

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      • Haha yes! I think it’s like, an artist’s curse. You’re never happy with the final product – I think you know what I mean!

        RIGHT? I know what you mean, and admire people’s ability to really delve DEEEEEEP into the subject matter. And then I feel like I didn’t really contribute to the discussion because everything has been said/thought of, haha.

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    • Thanks Analee! I have three sequel reviews in the wait having just binged the ToG series and I am still stumped on how to start on them *flails*

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    • Review writing is SO MUCH HARDER than it should be sigh. I have no motivation of late, hence this post. Thanks, I am glad you found it relatable!

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  4. I’m only very new to writing reviews and blogging, but I have a lot of the same problems! I’ve only ever written spoiler discussion posts on sequels, but writing a non-spoiler review is pretty daunting to me for a sequel, with trying to find new things to say, without spoiling the book! Glad to hear I’m not the only one who contemplates really hard before posting a review that is an unpopular opinion! Your advice is very helpful!

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    • Non-spoiler review is SO hard for me to write, since I barely know what constitutes as a spoiler. Even when I am describing the summary I’m like ‘am I giving away too much though’? I think with sequel the best thing to do is just to have a discussion post and spoiler filled zone. Thanks for commenting, I am so happy you found this helpful.

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  5. YES! YES! YES! To all of these! Especially the boring one and the being plain lazy! I’m so bad with reviews sometimes, but mostly when there is school. I keep putting them off until like a day before I have to actually post them.
    Anyways, it’s always hard for me to write reviews for books that I have an unpopular opinion of. I don’t want to piss people off, but at the same time, I want to be polite about it.
    On the other hand, I love writing reviews for books that gave me feels. Only problem, I can go on and on and on about the book!!
    Fun post, Aentee!

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    • I’m so glad you can relate, Nick! I have a review that I barely remember the plot for coming up and I am DREADING it *flounce* Other times, I have books that I was reading so intensely and furiously I forgot to take notes and then there’s nothing to say but feeeels. I am glad to hear that even a more experienced reviewer like yourself finds unpopular opinion difficult to publish, makes me feel better about wimping out, haha.

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    • I feel you! I have an intense bout of laziness at the moment. All I wanna do is read and watch TV without the burden of memorising enough stuff to make a commentary on it haha.

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  6. I think for me, I have a hard time composing a review for books that I absolutely loved. The feels just render me speechless. Also 3 or 4 star reviews for books that were awesome and virtually had no flaws but just weren’t for me are hard to create as well. Anyway, awesome post, Aentee!

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    • A book with no flaws? What are these things and you must point me in their direction, haha! But I agree I loved reading Queen of Shadows and I don’t even know how I’ll write that review urghhh.

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      • HAHA. Well I should revise that. I meant no flaws for me. 😉 Overall, I think I’m pretty easy to please but then again my GR average doesn’t really reflect that. But I’ll point out some good fantasy when I see some! Maybe try Graceling if you haven’t already. I read that years ago but remember really loving it!

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  7. Amazing post! I agree with all of them! It’s really hard for me to review a book that is totally boring and also the ones that I didn’t liked much. I feel the same way too while writing a review for a sequel. Anyways, great tips! 😀

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  8. Great tips! I’ve only done two reviews on my blog (and a couple of not so great ones on goodreads) and I’m still working out the kinks. My main problem is trying to to spoil a book for those who want to read a review but haven’t read the book.

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    • Yes, I had such difficulties with not writing in spoilers at first -since I originally wanted to discuss my thoughts on the story rather than provide a review. It does get easier with practice though, I promise!

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  9. Ugh, writing sequel reviews are so hard, especially when it’s a really great sequel to a really good book! When I was reading A Game of Thrones, I couldn’t find new things to say that weren’t plot related. I just skipped my review for the third book because I was afraid I was beginning to sound like a broken record. Bad sequels are easy or good sequels to a bad book. I had so much fun bashing the Gemma Doyle trilogy with each new review!

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    • I am so glad to hear so many people are finding sequels the bane of review creativity haha, I get so bored writing them and I thought I was the only one *clutches everyone*.
      GoT is such a behemoth, I don’t think I could ever write a review for one of those books, let alone all 5 that are released 😄 I salute you.

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  10. I find reviews super difficult to write when I’m bored witless. -_- I JUST HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. But usually, omg, I have the opposite problem of this, and I have to try and keep my reviews below 1000 words. HAH. Apparently I am long-winded?!?!? But I prefer reading shorter reviews so I’m trying to wRITE shorter reviews, hehe. x) I LOVE your graphics. I want to read every review of yours ever because I know I’m rewarded with a beautiful graphic. :’)

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    • HOW CAIT? 1000 words? I rarely reach that and I cheat by supplementing the word count with a healthy dose of book quotes. TEACH ME YOUR WAYS. I hate reading long reviews BUTTTT you are Cait, I drink up every word you type so you need NOT ever cut your review short.

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  11. AGREE WITH ALL OF THEM. Though I don’t like to write CASPLOCK reviews. If I am to fangirl, I do it in a calmer way (only in the reviews, though, haha). I alwasy try to write a revie for each book I read, but it’s true – sometimes it’s just difficult and you have to let that go, haha. Amazing post, Aentee! 😀

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    • I know, it’s hard to ignore books I didn’t want to write review for though because I’ve already invested so much time into reading it? A girl only has so much content for the blog, after all 😄

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  12. I actually always debate whether or not to provide a summary when I’m writing a book review everytime lol. Idk why! On the one hand, I feel like people can just look up a better summary on Goodreads and on the other, I feel like people might be confused with my review if I don’t.
    And I have a lot of fun writing negative reviews as harsh as it sounds; it’s nothing personal I just like to rant haha 😄 I think it’s therapeutic for me..

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    • I feel like I add in my thoughts along with the summary and find it easier to type up the review that way, so that’s how I’ve been doing it 😀
      I love reading negative reviews, even though I am bad at writing them myself 😉 I am happy to hear you relish in the act ahahaha.

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  13. I love all of these tips, Aentee! I often have a habit of putting off reviews for a while. I HAVE found that doing more creative/spontaneous makes writing reviews more fun, so thanks for these ideas!

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    • I would love to see you put some of the creative writing idea into action 😀 Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I put off reviews for ages as well, I barely remember the book by the time I write about it. Thank goodness, I usually have a whole bunch of quotes to help me out.

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  14. Oh my gosh, if you’re a baby blogger, then I don’t even want to think about what I am! Your posts are all fancy and awesome. But its good to know that even more experienced bloggers get bloggers-block sometimes!

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    • Aw thank you so much! You are too kind! I consider myself new cos I just started in June… when I hit my 6 months mark I’ll drop that baby title 😉

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  15. I’m working on my 567th posted review on the blog and still it doesn’t get any easier. Sigh. I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned is to NEVER PROCRASTINATE. Write the review soon after you shelve the book. Otherwise, it’ll get lost in the shuffle. Says the girl who was 9 books on the review queue.

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    • 567th!! That is amazing! though I am so sorry to hear that it never gets easier D: I will take your comment about no procrastinating to heart. But waaa 9 books in the queue 😄 You are on a roll.

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  16. “Whenever I dislike a book the general blogosphere love, I actually debate for ages before posting it. I AM A WIMP. I DON’T WANT TO HURT FEELINGS.”DITTO. Thank you so much for these tips! 🙂

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  17. The biggest issue I usually have are writing reviews for sequels too Aentee, there just doesn’t seem to be any way possible to review without including spoilers for previous books in the series, well without it sounding completely obscure anyway. I just tend to add a note before my reviewing warning readers now, there’s nothing worse than reading a review, discovering it’s the third book in a series and you’ve had the first two books spoiled. And those meh reads, it’s so hard to find that motivation to WANT to write about them, even if it’s to tell others how meh it was. Awesome tips Aentee, going to bookmark and refer back when I’m stuck in that reviewing funk ❤

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    • I should just start turning my sequel review into spoilers galore as well to avoid a headache haha. Meh reads are THE WORST, or the ones where I was reading so intently I forgot to take notes or highlight quotes. ARGH I have three sequels review for the ToG series in the wait and I am dreading writing them haha. Thanks, Kelly, I am so glad you found this helpful ❤

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  18. Boring books are the worst! My reviews get so much shorter for them haha! I find I have a hard time with spoilers. I don’t want to say anything but they can be a huge part of a story! So sometimes I feel like my reviews are lacking because I can’t say certain things. Also I need to highlight and write stuff down while I’m reading more often. I find those thoughts are the most accurate.

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    • I actually prefer reading shorter reviews anyway so I wonder if I should start cutting all of my wordcount down (PLUS I AM LAZY). I also want to discuss plot points during the review and it’s so hard cos I don’t want to spoil it for people.

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  19. UGH writing about sequels is the worst. It’s my downfall – especially since I read so much urban fantasy, since those series tend to be at least 5 books long. Like…how do I write anything meaningful without giving EVERYTHING away???

    Also, can I just say: I love how the raven in your graphic is holding onto a key in its beak. I see what you did there. 🙂

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    • I think everyone agrees that writing reviews for sequels suck 😄 I also notice that not many people read those reviews on my site, guessing as they don’t wanna be spoiled. It’s a double whammy of awful.

      Hehe, thank you, I am glad you caught that ❤

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  20. I always have trouble writing reviews for books I love, it’s just so hard for me to capture all of my feelings into a review. I always feel like my reviews are more like rambles :/ I’m trying to work on taking notes while reading so I know what to focus on while writing my reviews.

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  21. Wonderful post, Aentee! It’s hard to write a review on a book than was just an ok for me, too. And I so relate to your “The book, that gave me too many feels” point. I’ve read a book a while ago, which I absolutely loved, and I still can’t write a coherent review.

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    • I am still deciding on how to write my Queen of Shadows review, all I want to do is melt into a puddle and scream I LOVE IT.

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  22. You know… I sometimes try to go with the theme of the book if I can come up with one. Even though I write like nobody’s business (no desire to be an author though), I HAVE had moments where I just didn’t want to write a review. Lately I’ve been choosing not to for some of them, and then I just whip up a fun discussion post, go back to it, and go from there!

    When all else fails, I BS my way through it. I’d tell you I’m a great actor, but that would be a big fat lie. :p

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    • Wow, I wish I could write like you did! I love writing discussion posts as well, I find them therapeutic as it’s completely subjective and based on my oown opinions, whereas I find writing reviews so tough because I need to remain somewhat objective.

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  23. I DEFINITELY AGREE WITH YOU ON THE THREE STARS THING OMFG. I absolutely hate reviewing three star books because it doesn’t suck but it’s not amazing either so I’m just sitting there feeling like I’m wasting time by not doing anything and just… staring at a screen. Then I churn out some awful, not very organized review that doesn’t get posted for like three months because I just don’t want to look at it.
    “You could also group all the lacklustre books together and make a post of mini reviews, I have not done this before but I am sorely tempted.”
    I’m guilty of this. Very guilty. I also write these when I don’t remember the book because I read it forever ago. 😄
    As for the other stuff, I’m not shy about my unpopular opinions. It’s like I can rant or rave about it and also include why I can see my opinion being… not popular. Sequels are a different thing I’ve yet to tackle because I’m so bad with finishing books 😄

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  24. […] The Key To Beating Writer’s Block – The Book Reviewer’s Edition by Aentee at Read at Midnight taught me several tricks for how not to get stumped by things like complexity and ALL THE FEELS. Her solution: amply prepare for the review while I read. My response: I will be creating a layout in my bullet journal specific to book reviews to help me keep track of all my thoughts as I read from now on. Thank you, Aentee! […]

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