“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
Getting Unstuck: Short and Simple Tips -– Summer 2019
Here are some quick tips to jump-start your writing. When one of them works, please drop us a line or write it up for “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up,” https://writeradvice.com/you-cant-make-this-stuff-up/.
- Write often.
- Start anywhere. Heard that before? It’s because it works.
- Be in a place where you can concentrate.
- Get words on the paper instead of editing as you go.
- Write about what concerns, frustrates, enlightens, invigorates, or surprises you.
- Let one idea lead to the next. If you stray from your subject, you can delete it later. Maybe you will find a new and better subject.
- If you think your work is as good as it can be once you’ve finished the third draft, you need a writing group, an editor, or both.
- If a writing group is not helping you, leave as soon as you realize it. Don’t procrastinate because of friendships or because you have nowhere else to go. Make space in your life and new things will come in.
- Stuck? Answer this: What do you reallymean to say?
- Stuck? Let your character journal for a while and see what comes up.
- Stuck? What would your antagonist say about the place where you are stuck?
- Stuck? What is new in your latest draft?
- Bored? Invite the narrator or antagonist to do something unexpected.
- Bored? Vary your sentence lengths.
- Bored? Eliminate every unnecessary word.
- As soon as you resolve a conflict, add another one.
- Let anything you write make at least one important point.
- Communicate rather than obfuscate. Big words are not impressive.
- Is your ending a summary or is it a pay off? Why?
- Read your work out loud or have a trusted friend read it to you. You may hear problems you never saw.
A trusted professional writer told me that she’d done 12 drafts of a piece that was recently accepted by a literary magazine. She also said that’s lower than her usual number of drafts. Never be afraid to take your time, and once it’s ready, never be afraid to submit.