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Tip Tuesday #69

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to share a tip, please do so. Today's tip is another fabulous one from author Laura Lascarso. I think you'll find it very helpful. Please visit Laura's website to check out her blog and 2012 YA debut!

Page 80 (aka Writer's Block)

Pages 1-79 are sheer bliss. I’m in love with my story, I’m in love with my writing, the characters are singing, the words are flowing and everything is as it should be.

Then I hit page 80.

At page 80, everything starts to unravel. I question the meaning of the story, the authenticity of my characters, my own abilities as a writer. Everything about the story is flawed, I’m not the writer I thought I was. I should quit this nonsense and go get a real job.

But if getting a real job doesn’t appeal to you, these are some strategies I’ve employed in the past.

1. Put it away. The longer the better. This is always hard for me because I tend to work obsessively on my projects and if I’m not actively shaping it, I feel as though I’ve abandoned it. But sometimes distance is necessary to be able to think critically and objectively.

2. Give it to a friend, someone who is a constructive and critical thinker. Maybe they can tell you where they think you think it’s going, or tell you why it’s not working.

3. Start over. I’ve had great results with this, sometimes switching from 3rd person to 1rst, or vice versa, or telling the story from someone else’s POV. You may have thought it was one person’s story, when really it was someone else’s. Characters are tricky that way and it’s fun way to experiment (and exercise) with voice.

4. Let it go. Sometimes if you move onto a new project, the story will come back to you.

5. Read. Reading good books is a great way to look critically at what’s wrong with your own. Study their page’s 80 and see how they got through it–did they introduce a new character? a new obstacle? a terminal disease?

6. Let go of expectations and/or set small goals for yourself. “Today I’m going to write one killer line, today I’m going to write one great description, ect.”

7. Just keep writing. You love to write like a fish loves to swim. So write poetry, short stories, emails, blog posts, or work on editing someone else’s work. Every little bit you do makes you a stronger writer.

Got any more suggestions? I’d love to hear them. Page 80′s come around again and again.

- Laura Lascarso


Natalie Aguirre said...

Great suggestions for whatever place you get stuck. Because I think most of us get stuck at some place in our manuscript or in the revision process.

Putting a manuscript aside for awhile really helps me when I'm stuck and/or sick of working on it. Usually I'm thinking of ideas while I take a break.

Good luck Laura with your debut book. And congrats.

Chris Phillips said...

For #7 I like to skip to another scene I'm not ready for yet but know is going to happen. Even if i have to change it later, writing it can let me know what else must happen before I get there to bridge it.

darlenebeckjacobson said...

All these are great suggestions. I also find that it sometimes helps to put on some music...classical or instrumental and then do a "stream of consciousness" free write where you figuratively throw up on the page, writing anything and everything that comes to mind. This right brain/left brain exercise may not provide page 81, but it will help unblock your mind and may even lead to other story/scene ideas, titles, character traits and dialogue bits. It is also fun to step outside and take yourself to a place where you can eavesdrop on conversation. Great for dialogue help.

Lisa Nowak said...

Taking a walk helps get the juices flowing for me. Mundane tasks like driving or washing dishes also help.

Sherrie Petersen said...

I like these suggestions. Funny how true love can turn to pure terror before you even hit the midpoint!

Rose Green said...

This doesn't work for everyone, but for me it helps if I have someone else read it who likes it. It helps rekindle the excitement and make me remember why I fell in love with this story and want to tell it when I feel like I'm writing *to* someone. The points they get confused and the kinds of questions/conjectures they come up with based on what's on the page--not just what's in my head--help me see it in a whole new way. But I realize some people have to be done before showing it to anyone.

Victoria Dixon said...

Thanks for meeting me where I am! :D This helps validate what I'm doing, so it's much appreciated. I always feel like a failure when I put something away, but I know I can't keep going as I have done.

Laura Lascarso said...

Thanks for all your comments. It's good to know we're all in it together.