Saturday, August 22, 2009

Positive Attitudes

All too often writers get caught in the frustration of the work writing a novel requires. We start a project with enthusiasm, words are just flowing like mad. The beginning blows test-readers out of the water; the planned ending will make them cry tears of joy. The climax will keep them on the edge of the seat -- and so forth. But somewhere in the middle of linking all that into a book, frustration hits. Negativity creeps into minds. "Why am I doing this? I just got four rejections today. Why bother? My words aren't right. I've written the same phrase five times in six chapters..." on and on.

So what's a writer do to maintain a positive attitude and finish the book? Here's a few tips:

a. Don't get caught up in the need to be perfect. Tell yourself its okay to use the same five phrases repeatedly. Just get the words out -- polishing it is what the revisions process is for.

b. If you're stuck at a scene, a chapter, a transition and the words just won't come, skip it. Go to the next place the words are flowing. You can go back in and fill in the details at a later date.

c. If you're frustrated because you blocked out a certain time of the day to write, and by the time life settles down on that day you only have thirty minutes -- use those thirty minutes for writing. It may not be a four hour accomplishment but it is something. Every little word is progress.

d. If you're frustrated because you've just read your critique partner's latest MIS and it wow'd you, and you don't feel you write as good as he/she does -- remind yourself you don't need to write as good as another author. Authors possess individual voices. You aren't writing to be the next Nora Roberts. You're writing to be the first YOU. Devote time and attention to your project, and your project might just wow your critique partner too. An incomplete work can't wow anyone.

e. If you're frustrated because you're overwhelmed -- take a deep breath. You don't need to iron out why your secondary character's eye twitches when he lies. You can justify it later. Just accept that it does. Look at one instance of the situation at a time. Don't attempt to tackle it all at once. That's just asking for more stress. Focus on the things you can find an immediate resolution to first, and then as you tick off layers the stress will disipate.

That's just a few suggestions -- there's a lot more you can discover through asking other authors how they get through slumps. But in the end, remember, above all -- negativity leads to more negativity. If you create reasons for why you can overcome hurdles, or create reasons to excuse what you perceive as flaws, you will find the positive energy to keep muddling through. Positive energy fuels positive energy. Always, always find a way to look at your writing circumstaces as positive.

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