Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Striving to Make it Stick

This is where I admit I'm a procrastinator. Every time I get stuck on something my answer is avoidance. I hate to admit it but this sometimes actually works. I will walk away from something that I've been frustrated over, and come back later when my mind is clearer. This gets me back to work with a renewed sense of accomplishment. I wouldn't recommend this course of action though, it's just something I do if all else fails. I'll have to come up with something better if I have the opportunity to work under a deadline.

The issues that I get stuck on may be due to my lack of experience; for example, which tense to use and how to structure the storyline. I stop during writing to check the characters voice, or the plot line, then find out I'm not happy with how things are going. I hope in time this won't be such a problem, until then I have reference books on writing to turn to, and of course my critique buddies.

I could wish for a magic wand when I'm stuck. What's the purpose of struggling anyway? Then I noticed in the thesaurus that a synonym for struggle is strive, and realized that I'm constantly striving to make my story better, which is a good thing. I guess getting stuck is part of the natural process of writing, this struggle makes the end product that much better. I'll have to remember that next time I'm walking away from the keyboard and throwing my hands up in frustration.


  1. Ellen, you have told us not to do something when it's actually a proven technique. I'm talking about walking away from your manuscript and revisiting it with a fresh perspective. I learned this technique in school, and this was even mentioned as an effective writing technique during last years SCBWI conference by a presenting author. She said she puts her manuscripts in a drawer for two weeks when she's stuck. So don't be so hard on yourself in thinking that you're doing something wrong.

    While you're writing, sometimes it's hard to hear how you sound, so that's one of the benefits of giving things a rest and comimg back to them.

  2. I like your comment about struggling = striving. I don't think it's "lack of experience," I think the kind of story you are writing is difficult to structure--figuring out where to put the "flashbacks," how to relate them to the present, and keeping a narrative moving forward in both timelines. Then throw in experimenting with different verb tenses. You might walk away from the keyboard, but so far you always walk back!

  3. Sometimes you have to walk away- I like that.