Monday, September 19, 2011

When the Tough Get Going

Yes, I realize that today's post title sounds like a deodorant ad. Or maybe a product for athlete's foot. Or maybe something that works for anything involving the fight against not-so-pleasant smells.


I have gotten many, many, many emails over the last few years asking me some form of this:

I always start a story and everything is going great and then suddenly I run out of ideas / hit a roadblock / lose interest / get bored with my story - how do I actually finish a book???

There's a few different tricks you can try!

Sometimes, you need to just put the book aside for a couple of days. Go see a movie, take a walk, go the gym, do something creative that isn't writing - like drawing or crafting or painting (if those are things you enjoy). Most of the time, I find that this works the best for me. I'll close my laptop and go do something different. Sometimes, even a change of scenery can help. If I was writing inside, I move outside. If I was writing on the couch, I move to my desk. Anything to change my mood and morale a little bit.

If that doesn't work, read back through your story with a pair of scissors. Cut anything and everything that doesn't move the story forward. Does it add to the story? No? Clip it. Paste it in another Word document and keep going. Sometimes "purging" your story can give you the motivation to keep going - and it can remind you of ideas or plot lines that you might have forgotten along the way.

And if both of those fail, and you aren't on a deadline, put the story away. Maybe for just a few weeks, maybe forever. This is the final straw option, but I have pulled the final straw MANY times in my life. I have countless stories that will never ever see completion, much less the light of day. Casualties will always litter the floor of a writing room. ;)

But sometimes, even those stories can be revived. Almost three years ago, I came up with the idea for a girl who loves to draw and ends up accidentally sketching a Most Wanted criminal. I worked on it for a couple of weeks, changed my mind and put it away for awhile. Then, I kept thinking about it. Pulled it out again. Starting chopping and working. And last month, Sketchy Behavior was released in bookstores.

You never know what God will do with your stories! So keep at it!

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