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10 Tips For When Writing Gets Hard–Episode 74–October 30 2015

On episode 74 of the WRITER 2.0 Podcast I discuss my ten best tips for when writing gets hard. You can listen to the detailed explanations above, or get the summaries below. 

  1. Skip ahead: Look over your outline, or think ahead in your book, and pick a scene you’re excited about writing. Then go write it.
  2. Exercise: Sometimes the best way to forget about your work, reset your mind, or crack a tough scene, is vigorous exercise. Some people prefer walks.
  3. Stop looking ahead to an imagined positive future: I think Will Self puts it best: “You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.” If we can remember that difficulty is often just part of the process, we might be able to stop resisting it. When we stop resisting it, it becomes less difficult.
  4. Sleep alone: Many of us dream differently when we’re sleeping alone. Try saying goodbye to your significant other for a night or two to see if it gets your writing moving.
  5. Get a new support: Though buying something is rarely the answer, occasionally it is. For me, it was an automatic coffee maker that I scheduled to go off at 4:25 a.m.
  6. Write against character type: If you’re writing a stereotypical character, you may be bored, and your reader will be as well.
  7. Do a page of journaling: As fast as you can, away from your desk. Sometimes there is a nagging thought that we really need to get out and, once we do, it’s easy to get back the scene we’re supposed to be working on.
  8. Have a cocktail: Of course, I’m not suggesting that you develop a drinking problem. But sometimes a cocktail (or a beer or glass of wine), combined with scribbling down some thoughts on a napkin, is enough to move us to the next scene, or deepen an existing one.
  9. Go back and read something good you wrote: Then do one of the previous tips like exercise, skip ahead, or have a cocktail.
  10. Change something fundamental: If all else fails, something may be missing from your book or book concept. Anne Enright says, “Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.” Sometimes, we need to make drastic changes. But try the other tips first. 🙂

To send comments or questions, find me on FacebookTwitter, or email me at podcast(at)acfuller.com. And remember, emailed questions can come either as text or as MP3 audio files, which I will drop directly into the show.

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