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Monday, June 6, 2011

Problem Child

June Challenge: Managing the Uncooperative Story

1. Don't panic. I've learned (the hard way) that it's completely normal to get stuck. Writing a book is a process of getting stuck, unstuck, and then stuck again.

2. Walk away. Trying to squeeze blood from a rock never works. When I get frustrated, I set the story aside and then go stew for awhile. Actually I pout, but stew sounds so much more sophisticated and tortured-writerly than pout. Stewing/pouting also allows the story to sit and rise in the back of my head.

3. Don't panic (see number 1).

4. Make a list. If I'm dealing with a specific problem, I start making a list of all possible solutions. The list is all free-writing - I don't stop to edit, just write whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly or implausible it seems. Sometimes the list gets mightily long before I find the right answer, but it never fails.

5. Read. I like to read books that are in some way similar to the one I'm working on. It's not like I want to copy them, but when I get stuck inside my own head, studying how other writers handle similar subject matter helps to break me out of that. Plus, reading is fun!

6. Don't panic. Have a mentioned this before? Because, seriously.

7. Last, but not least:

7 comments:

Janiel Miller said...

Great tips, Maegan. I like the Make A List idea a lot. Also, I love all the links you work into your posts. Very cool.

Robin said...

Love this! I just remind myself that everything good has to simmer undisturbed for a while. It's good to back burner things. Something will shake out soon enough once you turn your attention to something else.

William Kendall said...

Great tips!

Maegan Langer said...

Thanks guys! Janiel, I like to think of hyperlinks in blog posts as kind of like Easter eggs on DVDs. Sometimes I worry I'm a little too link happy, so I'm glad to hear that you like them :)

Lori said...

Walking away is great advice - sometimes just leaving something for awhile makes all the difference! A lot of times, I'll go have hot tea and sit down with the current book I'm reading and then go back to my project all refreshed...

Sara B. Larson said...

Good tips, thanks for sharing! :)

Russo said...

Girl, I freaking love this. You worded it so well. Oh, the troubles of writing a novel. Thankfully, we ain't alone. We got each other. PS- I love the pic.