It was the perfect day. After the first full week of summer vacation, a week of trying to write with the Play Station going, friends in and out of the house and trying to balance that all important work/family time, I finally had the house to myself. My wonderful husband had taken Son#2 up to LA for the weekend and Son#1 was going to be at the fair with his friends all day. I finally had the house to myself so I sat down at my computer prepared to write and…
My main character had a problem and I had no solution, absolutely nothing came to mind. I tried to write a few pages of revision on my current Work-in-Progress, but I think I did more harm than good. Clearly this was not going to be a day to write. I tried my usual jump start and forced myself to write for 15 minutes but still…
A trip to my local bookstore didn’t help, neither did reading one of my old favorite stories. I was stuck.
I began to do crafts, this is usually a sure fire way to jump start my writing but while I enjoyed doing the project my writing was still stuck. I took a field trip to the artsy part of town to look at the creative projects this is another way I can jump start my writing, I was alas still stuck.
I cleaned my house, did the laundry and once everything was clean I sat down to write…
It was at this point I decided to relax and take a few days off from writing. During this break I ran across a book at my local library “Writing Magic” by Gail Carson Levine (Collins, 2006) the the author of “Ella Enchanted” and other wonderful books.
Here is a description of the book:
In Writing Magic, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine shares her secrets of great writing. She shows how you, too, can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialogue, develop memorable characters—and much, much more. She advises you about what to do when you feel stuck—and how to use helpful criticism. Best of all, she offers writing exercises that will set your imagination on fire.
With humor, honesty, and wisdom, Gail Carson Levine shows you that you, too, can make magic with your writing.
My favorite chapter was Chapter 17 which was appropriately titled- “Stuck!” in this chapter she shares the truth that:
There is no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect story.
No matter how hard we try we will never achieve perfection. Even if we were to write what we think is a perfect story, no two readers will agree on whether our book was perfect anyway. What readers truly care about is connection, getting caught up in the story and caring about the characters.
She offers offers a great piece of advice for those times when you are stuck and that is to write down twelve options the good, the bad, the crazy and the stupid. Don’t limit your self and stop at number four because it seems like the perfect solution keep going until you reach twelve because a better solution might be lurking in number 8 or even number eleven.
If the twelve options haven’t helped keep writing sometimes this will stimulate your brain to get an idea.
A final trick she offers is from author Doris Orgel:
Her advice is to phrase what I’m stuck on as a question, like “What can Ella of Ella Enchanted do about the ogres who’ve captured her?”
I write the question on a Post-It note and slap it up on my office door. Then I do my best to forget about it. Meanwhile, the back of my mind goes to work. Three hours or three days later the answer arrives.
The thing is, the answer always comes. One way or another, sooner or later, but always.
That gives me just a little bit of hope.
Writing on the Sidewalk