Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ask O: How Do I Get Past the Writing Blahs? Part One

Happy Wednesday my writing friends! Let's get right into my answer to this week's question:

“Dominos! Yay!” When my then six-year-old son literally flipped (did a somersault of joy) for the deluxe set of dominoes he received for Christmas, little did he (or I) know the tough lessons awaiting him. Unloading the massive bag onto the dinner table, he strove to align domino after domino into perfect position—up steps, curving like a snake, into a pyramid. Careful, Careful. “This is gonna be good.”

Then an accidental nudge from his knuckles sent his beloved creation toppling into rubble. After a few do-overs with the same outcome, my son ran into the backyard crying. “I’m never gonna do dominoes again!”

That’s what happens with my writing sometimes. I’m struck with a great idea for a novel. It develops as I sleep, shower, cook, do dishes, drive. I put fingertips to keyboard, click out an outline, start a draft, and fall in love with it. “This is gonna be good.” Then, before I know it, something happens to make it topple like my son’s dominoes.

It doesn’t really matter what causes the catastrophe. It could be an implausible character, an awkward setting, a thematic problem, or a scene that just doesn’t work. In a past mom-lit project, I kept misjudging the tone of a certain scene. The book was supposed to be funny and emotional (a difficult combo, I’m finding), and I just couldn’t figure out how to blend the two in this scene. I had to rewrite it so many times I wanted to run into the backyard crying, “I’m never gonna write again.”

But since never writing again is not an option, I’ve had to find ways to buck up. Here are three that help me. Next week I’ll share three more.

“It’s Going to Be Okay”
It may seem childish, but when I’m stressed, I like to hear those words. This phrase draws out the truth that what feels like a major roadblock is just a small obstacle on a bigger journey. If I trust the process and continue to re-think, re-work, re-write, I’ll find the answer. It’ll come.

Remember the Love
When stalled in frustration, it also sometimes helps to ask myself why I write. After a little hemming and hawing, I answer, “Because I love it.”
“I’m passionate about it.”
“I can’t not, okay. It’s who I am.”
Without fail, remembering how writing permeates my being motivates me.

This One’s for You
I do love to write, but it’s not the only reason I persevere. I also write because I love my potential readers. I mold my novels because I want to touch a reader with a truth about God. I labor over my mommy blog because I want to give hope to frazzled moms like me. I pen writing columns because I relate to author’s frustrations and joys. And ultimately, I write because of only One reader. Remembering my purpose pops the balloons of my poor-me party and pushes me back to work.

So if you’re tackling frustrations, try these three tips to get your fingers moving again, and tune in next week for three more.

Don't forget to leave your writing questions in the comments or on my website: ocieanna.com.

Happy Writing!



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