How to overcome creative blocks

I went on The Lisa Show to discuss getting yourself unstuck:
Have you ever been working full steam ahead on a project, only to encounter a setback and find that you’ve totally run out of steam? This phenomena, commonly called writer’s block or creative block, is incredibly common, and can be incredibly frustrating for those encountering it. So, what can we do? We’ve asked Eliot Peper, a bestselling novelist who has authored nine chart-topping sci fi books.
Skip to timestamp (0:14:17) to dive straight into the interview and complement with what's worked for me as a novelist, finding your voice, and five things I learned writing Cumulus.

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Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels that explore the intersection of technology and culture. He sends a popular reading recommendation newsletter, interviews authors for Fellow Travelers, and lives in Oakland, CA.

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Ursula K. Le Guin on the book as technology

From Words Are My Matter:
The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.
Complement with a brief anatomy of storywhy reading fiction is like visiting a foreign country, and my advice for authors.

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Eliot Peper is the author of Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Cumulus, True Blue, Neon Fever Dream, and the Uncommon Series. His writing has appeared in the Verge, Tor.comHarvard Business Review, VICE, OneZero, TechCrunch, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and he has given talks at Google, Comic Con, Future in Review, and SXSW.

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Announcing Veil

I have a new novel coming out May 20th, 2020.

Veil is a character-driven speculative thriller about a near-future shaped by geoengineering:
When her mother dies in a heat wave that kills twenty million, Zia León abandons a promising diplomatic career to lead humanitarian aid missions to regions ravaged by drought, wildfires, and sea level rise. 
What Zia doesn't know is that clandestine forces are gathering around her in pursuit of a colossal secret: someone has hijacked the climate, and the future of human civilization is at stake. 
To avoid a world war that appears more inevitable every day, Zia must build a coalition of the powerless and attempt the impossible. But success depends on facing the grief that has come to define her life, and rediscovering friendship, family, and what it means to be true to yourself while everything falls apart.
Veil is available for preorder on Kindle and will launch in all formats on May 20th.

Andrew Liptak interviewed me about what inspired the book for his excellent science fiction newsletter:
A couple years ago, I listened to Tyler Cowen interview award-winning journalist Charles C. Mann. They were discussing the growth in scientific research into geonengineering—attempts to directly manipulate the global climate to reduce the worst aspects of climate change using everything from marine bacteria to ingenious machines that suck CO2 out of the air. 
But there's one approach to geoengineering that's by far the most feasible: using high-altitude planes to spray inert aerosols into the stratosphere that reflect a tiny percentage of incoming sunlight, slowing global warming. The craziest part is that such an effort would only cost approximately two billion dollars a year—cheap enough that any country or even an individual billionaire could go ahead and do it unilaterally. Can you imagine the extent of the potential social, political, economic, and environmental implications?
Holy shit, I thought. Somebody needs to write a novel about this. 
And Veil was born.
I poured my heart and soul into this novel. I think it's my best work yet and I hope it offers a fun and thought-provoking diversion in these strange times. Preorder it today.

Oh, and if you have a newsletter, podcast, blog, column, or community and want to read an advance review copy, email me and we'll get you sorted.

Media/rights contact: eliot [at] eliotpeper [dot] com

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Eliot Peper is the author of Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Cumulus, True Blue, Neon Fever Dream, and the Uncommon Series. His writing has appeared in the Verge, Tor.comHarvard Business Review, VICE, OneZero, TechCrunch, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and he has given talks at Google, Comic Con, Future in Review, and SXSW.

This blog exists thanks to the generous support of loyal readers. Become a member.

Maria Popova on reality's density of wonder

The remarkable opening line of Maria Popova's Figuring:
All of it—the rings of Saturn and my father’s wedding band, the underbelly of the clouds pinked by the rising sun, Einstein’s brain bathing in a jar of formaldehyde, every grain of sand that made the glass that made the jar and each idea Einstein ever had, the shepherdess singing in the Rila mountains of my native Bulgaria and each one of her sheep, every hair on Chance’s velveteen dog ears and Marianne Moore’s red braid and the whiskers of Montaigne’s cat, every translucent fingernail on my friend Amanda’s newborn son, every stone with which Virginia Woolf filled her coat pockets before wading into the River Ouse to drown, every copper atom composing the disc that carried arias aboard the first human-made object to enter interstellar space and every oak splinter of the floorboards onto which Beethoven collapsed in the fit of fury that cost him his hearing, the wetness of every tear that has ever been wept over a grave and the yellow of the beak of every raven that has ever watched the weepers, every cell in Galileo’s fleshy finger and every molecule of gas and dust that made the moons of Jupiter to which it pointed, the Dipper of freckles constellating the olive firmament of a certain forearm I love and every axonal flutter of the tenderness with which I love her, all the facts and figments by which we are perpetually figuring and reconfiguring reality—it all banged into being 13.8 billion years ago from a single source, no louder than the opening note of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, no larger than the dot levitating over the small i, the I lowered from the pedestal of ego.
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Eliot Peper is the author of Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Cumulus, True Blue, Neon Fever Dream, and the Uncommon Series. His writing has appeared in the Verge, Tor.comHarvard Business Review, VICE, OneZero, TechCrunch, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and he has given talks at Google, Comic Con, Future in Review, and SXSW.

This blog exists thanks to the generous support of loyal readers. Become a member.

Oliver Morton on science journalism and humanity’s fascination with the moon

I interviewed Oliver Morton about science writing, the relationship between science and science fiction, and the creative process behind his latest book, The Moon:
In World War II, two of the signature technologies of science fiction came about in real life, in part because of people who were science fiction fans: the superweapon and the space rocket. That gave heft to what has subsequently become a lazy way of thinking: that science fiction goes first and science catches up or surpasses it. That became the source of my least favorite tropes in science writing: “X used to be science fiction and now it is science fact,” and its relative, “Stranger than any science fiction but it is true!” One of the reasons that I hate those tropes is that they are lazy, but another is that they ignore the fact that things can be science fictional in terms of themes of empowerment (superweapons) and transcendence (space travel), not to mention alienation (robots and aliens) and still part of the real world—indeed, now, part of the real world’s history. Space travel does not stop being science fictional just because it is real. The way that my book deals with science fiction is an attempt to get that across—to show the science fictional sensibilities within both what has gone on and what is to come.
And:
Don't see yourself as a conduit. You face one way—towards the source—when you are learning what you want to say, and the other way—towards the reader—when you are saying it. You are not a window between the reader and the source; you are drawing a picture of the source for the reader, and it is your picture.
And:
Always remember that science and technology have a social and historical context and let that understanding inform your writing even if it is not expressed within it.
Complement with my conversations with other authors about ideas and craftKim Stanley Robinson on how to spark hope in a future ravaged by climate change, and Meg Howrey on the inner lives of astronauts.

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Eliot Peper is the author of Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Cumulus, True Blue, Neon Fever Dream, and the Uncommon Series. His writing has appeared in the Verge, Tor.comHarvard Business Review, VICE, OneZero, TechCrunch, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and he has given talks at Google, Comic Con, Future in Review, and SXSW.

This blog exists thanks to the generous support of loyal readers. Become a member.

Why companies are hiring sci-fi writers to imagine the future

Katie Underwood interviewed me for a Pivot Magazine feature on how business leaders are commissioning science fiction that challenges them to think differently about the future:
In recent years, major multi-national companies like Nike, Google, Apple, Ford and Visa, and governmental bodies like NATO and the French army, have all enlisted the services of sci-fi writers, commissioning conceptual futuristic narratives to help them imagine the worlds in which their products, services and strategies might very soon exist.
And:
Science fiction doesn’t just explain how our systems and institutions might change—it forces us to imagine the depth and richness of what these futures might feel like to people, and how it will impact behavior, which in turn defines which businesses succeed, and which don't.
Complement with what sci-fi can tell us about the futurehow CEOs are using sci-fi to imagine the future, and this podcast interview about science fiction and scenario planning.

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Eliot Peper is the author of Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Cumulus, True Blue, Neon Fever Dream, and the Uncommon Series. His writing has appeared in the Verge, Tor.comHarvard Business Review, VICE, OneZero, TechCrunch, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and he has given talks at Google, Comic Con, Future in Review, and SXSW.

This blog exists thanks to the generous support of loyal readers. Become a member.

What's worked for me as a novelist*

  1. Live my life, pay attention, ask hard questions, engage in deep conversations, and follow my curiosity.
  2. Notice a story I want to exist in the world.
  3. Write it.
  4. Edit it.
  5. Finish it.
  6. Share it with people who have a specific, personal reason to love it.
  7. Publish it (myself or with a publisher).
  8. Reflect on what I can learn from it.
  9. Repeat.
*I suspect that #1, #5, and #9 may be the most important. The order of #6-#9 varies. Only time will tell if this continues working for me. I reserve the right to switch things up entirely for any damn reason I please. This may or may not work for you.

Complement with advice for authors, my conversations with fellow writers, and finding your voice.

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Eliot Peper is the author of Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Cumulus, True Blue, Neon Fever Dream, and the Uncommon Series. His writing has appeared in the Verge, Tor.comHarvard Business Review, VICE, OneZero, TechCrunch, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and he has given talks at Google, Comic Con, Future in Review, and SXSW.

This blog exists thanks to the generous support of loyal readers. Become a member.