Writing

Seven Questions That Will Fuel Your Writing

 

Stuck in a writing rut? Answering these seven questions might just get you unstuck.

Are you stuck in a writing rut?

Does the following scenario apply to you? You sit down at your desk. You’re all geared up to write, pen in hand or fingers poised over your keyboard, and the only thought that comes to mind is: I have no fucking clue what I want to say. Or better yet: What the fuck is the point of this story?

It applies to me. A lot more than I’d care to admit. In fact, right now I’m struggling with this very issue. For months, I’ve been flip flopping between whether I want to write a romance novel or a mystery. I started the romance, hated it, so I switched gears and started working on a mystery idea that I’d outlined a while back. Now, I’m questioning whether I want to write this story. I’m not feeling it and I don’t know why. What I do know is that my gut is sending signals to my brain telling me to step away from this project.

If you find yourself stuck in rut like me, the following questions might help you get unstuck.

1. What are you most passionate about? Your passion could be anything from how to solve the global warming crisis to baking the perfect French macaron. Whatever floats your boat will also fuel your writing. Make a list of the causes, interests and hobbies you care most about and use that list as a springboard.

2. What scares you? Heights. Cockroaches. Nuclear war. The consequences of having an incompetent and unstable president. These are just a few of my fears. Make a list of anything and everything that scares the shit out of you.

3. What makes you angry? Set a timer for ten minutes and free write about everything that makes you mad. When you’re done, read over what you’ve written. List each thing that pisses you off and go into further detail of why these things make you angry.

4. What answers are you searching for right now? Enlightenment. Reinvention. A new career. The meaning of life. How to make your ass look great in jeans. Whether it’s superficial or existential, whatever you’re searching for might just propel you into a story.

5. What unresolved issues do you have? This is where you go deep and get personal. Just about everyone on the planet has some unfinished business. This could be something from childhood that you haven’t had the courage to face or it could be something that happened last week at work. No matter what that unresolved business is, see if you can infuse that into your writing somehow. Create a character with a similar issue and figure out if he or she can resolve the problem.

6. What if? The writer’s go-to question. What if your best friend is responsible for the death of your child? What if you find out your fiance is already married? What if you’re told you have 6 months to live? What if you’re accused of murdering your spouse? Playing the what if game is a fun way to come up with ideas.

7. Does what I’m writing matter to me? This is probably the most important question, and the answer should always be yes. If your answer is no, odds are the writing will be flat, the characters two-dimensional, and the story a boring piece of crap. In other words, a colossal waste of time for both you the writer and anyone who reads your work. Whether you’re writing romance, mystery, young adult, horror, etc., there needs to be a reason for the story. This could be a theme you’re passionate about, something that pisses you off, something that scares you, or an unresolved issue that you want to explore. If the story matters to you, then it will mean something to your readers.

The next time you find yourself in a rut, take a deep breath, grab your computer or a pen and your notebook and start answering some questions. You’ll eventually figure out what you want to write about and learn a few things about yourself in the process.

 

 

Advertisements
Writing

The First Draft

Time For A Little Refocusing On February 24th, I started writing the first draft of my first novel. This isn’t the first time I’ve started the first draft of my so-called first novel. I’ve developed–and perfected–a start/stop method of writing, where I plan and plan and plan, then after spending waayyyy too much time in the planning phase, I will finally take the plunge and start writing the opening scene.

During the summer, I wrote three or four opening scenes and decided they sucked. I went back to my outline and delved a little deeper, and again got too comfortable staying in the planning phase. Then I got to thinking about what exactly was stifling my progress. Why the hell can’t I just sit down and start writing? Why can’t I get it right???

I reminded myself that I’m a novel-writing newbie. It’s not going to be easy. But realizing that wasn’t enough to get me writing that first scene again. So I turned to my Kindle copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and read the chapters entitled Shitty First Drafts and Perfectionism. I read them over several times, highlighting things that really resonated with me, such as

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.

The first draft is the down draft–you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft–you fix it up.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.

That last statement was my Aha moment. My pursuit of perfectionism was holding me back from starting the first draft. I kept starting and stopping because what I was writing was not perfect.

From that moment I said screw it. Enough with the planning. Enough with the stalling and waiting for perfect prose to flow through my fingers. I’m going to write the shittiest first draft ever written.

So I sat down that day and I started typing, and believe it or not the story started to flow. It’s clunky and full of holes, but I let go of trying to be perfect and allowed my self to start writing my shitty draft, which I will continue to work on until I reach the end.

Read

Book Review: The Blue Bistro

I am officially declaring Elin Hilderbrand as one of my new favorite authors. Last year, I read Beautiful Day, thoroughly enjoyed it, and decided then that I would be reading more books by this author.

The Blue Bistro was a definite page turner for me, and the perfect beach read. I loved this book.

It’s a story that takes place one summer on Nantucket Island. The main character is a young woman named Adrienne Dealey. She’s lived a somewhat nomadic life up until this point, moving from one resort town to the next as a hotel worker, never putting down roots.

She finds herself on Nantucket Island flat broke. Acting on a tip from someone she met on the ferry ride over to the island, Adrienne goes to The Blue Bistro in search of a job. There she meets good-looking Thatcher Smith, co-owner of the restaurant, and is offered a position as the assistant manager for the restaurant’s final year.

There’s a bit of mystery going on with the Blue Bistro’s co-owner/chef, Fiona, who does not want to be photographed and rarely, if ever, comes out of the kitchen. The close relationship between Thatcher and Fiona is one that both intrigues and infuriates Adrienne, who finds herself more and more attracted to her new boss.

In no time, Adrienne learns the restaurant business, rubs elbows with the island’s rich and famous, and enjoys the work as well as the generous income the job provides. Over the course of the summer, she falls in love, questions are answered about the mysterious Fiona, and Adrienne comes to terms with the past that she’s been running from since childhood.

The Blue Bistro has everything I like in a beach read – interesting characters, a bit of glamour, a little romance, as well as humor and heartbreak, and it’s a book that I highly recommend.

What is your favorite Elin Hilderbrand book?