Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing
Brainstorm a list of complications for your work in progress. Make it a big list--at least fifteen items. Go crazy with it. At least three of the complications must be preposterous, requiring of you (and your reader) huge leaps of faith. Write about the praise you've received for your writing, whether from a high school English teacher or an editor or a friend. When doubts arise while working on an idea, take out your list and descriptions and read them quickly. All writers need such affirmations. If you've got a piece underway but are beginning to feel it lag a bit, find a place in what you've written already that excites your interest. Perhaps it's a character or an image, a setting, even a subplot that appeals to you. Focus your energy there. You could expand its role in the story or freewrite about it. If you're smitten by a character, explore her background, even if you feel that what you write won't be included in the final piece... By focusing your energy and interest in this way, you can catch a renewed sense of engagement in the piece and before you know it you're moving again. Write down all the destructive and distracting self-talk statements you usually make while evaluating your work--all the statements you use to create noise and thereby deafen yourself to the piece in progress. Now read the piece and immediately discard any thoughts that your list contains. Consider how you start and end your writing sessions. Do you write until you're exhausted? If so, consider stopping while you're still feeling energetic about the project. Ernest Hemingway made famous his method of stopping each session in the middle of a sentence, so he'd know just how to start the new session. Thisapproach might work for you. Keep an ongoing list of phrases and sentences that strike you as particularly good in what you read. Get into the habit of writing them down.
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