MONDAY FORTUNE COOKIE, 11/12/12
Be an optimist. There does not seem too much use being anything else.
SNARKY RESPONSE: And you have a pretty good chance of ticking off a large portion of the population.
Optimism. A crucial part of being a writer. You have to believe in your ability to tell the story you envision and do the work, even with it gets rough.
Every writer encounters periods when their confidence in their writing ebbs and flows like the tides. When the words come easy and the characters behave, you ride the crest with confidence. Take hold and hang ten all the way to the shore! Kowabunga!
When your story breaks apart like flotsam on the storm surge, even the most confident writer feels cast adrift. Best you can do is grab a piece of the plot and dog paddle for all you’re worth until you can catch that next wave.
There are hundreds of great tips on how to bolster your writing when you’re stymied. Some of my personal faves would be:
- Skip the troublesome scene/chapter and write something farther ahead. I’m a linear thinker so this one gives me a little trouble, but it works. In fact, some writers do all their writing that way, producing piecework prose that they rearrange and stitch together later.
- Set the troublesome piece aside temporarily and do background writing. Character sketches are great for luring your muse back to the task. As you explore your character and their world (outside the story) you may find yourself able to approach that chasm from a different angle and voila, there’s the bridge you needed.
- Change POV – switch from third person to first person or vice versa. Taking your narration to a different level might give you a new perspective that would break through. Going deeper or pulling back like a camera lens may reveal something you’d missed.
- Revisit where you’ve been so that you can recapture that sense of where you’re going. Back tracking will provide opportunities to rediscover things you might have forgotten or at least refresh your memory.
- A recent discovery (for me) was the concept of writing backward. Kind of like skipping ahead, but this time you take a giant step. Again, this is against the grain for my a-b-c brain, but it makes sense. Knowing your ending, you can backtrack. To get result Z, characters would have to perform actions 3-2-1.
The point is – Don’t Give Up! Trust yourself. Be Optimistic about your ability to do this thing that you love–tell a story.
What do you do to keep yourself moving ahead when you hit a road block?