Biography: Joanne (Liebhauser) Weck Joanne Weck, novelist, playwright, and short story author, draws upon family history to inspire many of her stories, often set in rural Pennsylvania where she grew up. She also derives ideas from her experiences as an actress, director, and teacher, from her early life growing up in a large family, and her varied work and travel experiences. These include: caring for and training dogs and horses, working on a tobacco farm along with migrant workers, aide at a State Mental Hospital, waitress, camp counselor, modeling school instructor, actor on stage and in TV Commercials and soap operas. She has traveled throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Europe. She has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Theater from the University of Pittsburgh. She also attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan (Acting/Directing) and Rutgers University (Counseling for Drug and Alcohol Problems). She has taught English, Public Speaking, TV Production, Creative Writing and mentored YAWT (Young Artists’ Workshop Theater) and Young Women at Risk for Bergen County’s volunteer program. She wrote for Scholastic magazine and co-edited Poconotes, a regional magazine for the Pocono Mountain area. Her plays have been featured in New Jersey and Pennsylvania theaters. A Geraldine R. Dodge playwrights’ fellowship allowed her to workshop her plays with some prolific members of the theater community: actor, Olympia Dukakis, playwright, Adrienne Kennedy, and director, Anne Bogart. Short stories that originally appeared in literary journals, and online, and several one-act plays, are published as FATEFUL ENCOUNTERS, Collected Stories & Plays. Her mysteries, CRIMSON ICE was originally published by Digital Pulp Press and DOUBLE DECEPTION, by Amber Quill. All books are now available in paperback and digital format on Amazon, by J. Weck.

Is it Writer’s Block— or Performance Anxiety

What do you do when you feel stymied and just can’t write? You sit at your computer and stare off into space. You go into the kitchen and pour out another cup of coffee. You open up your ideas notebook, but nothing appeals. Do you just walk away, go outdoors, turn on TV–or strain your brain to force an idea? What techniques work for you?

As a child I wrote poetry, stories, and plays. As a young adult I sent out my first novel to one prospective publisher and had it rejected. I went into a downward spiral of self doubt and anxiety and didn’t write again for a long time.

Anxiety can cripple your writing process. For years I “prepared” to write, jotting down ideas, organizing my desk, reading articles about developing story ideas and getting published–anything except actually writing. How did I break through my years (actual years) of doubt and procrastination?

I was assigned to teach a class in Creative Writing and found that I needed to put myself in the same position as my students. I undertook the same writing assignments I gave them. I encouraged them to share their work and I began sending my own stories to journals and online magazines. I sent my plays to theaters and –surprise! had them produced.

After my first story was accepted for publication it became much easier.
Still, after twelve published short stories, (four first prize winners in contests) one mystery, and various plays produced, I still have these moments of anxiety and self doubt. Meditation helps. Self hypnosis helps.
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