by Kim Smith
Potholes are commonplace in the south in winter and spring. They occur due to inclement weather conditions, mostly rain. No matter what they are, they signal worrisome woes on any highway, byway, or road. Literary potholes are no different and when we are on the “Road to Writing a Novel” show up at the worst time, when you cannot swerve around them, and they can hamper your efforts to get somewhere with your writing.
But you can avoid them if you are wise and watchful. Here is a short list of things that will detour your journey:
1. Answering too many emails.
The novel or short story can face power outages if you have more than one email to answer over the course of an hour. Some of the emailers want to chat, some want answers to writing questions, and some want an interview. Taking the time to answer all of these emails and commit to the various requests will make your muse plop down and take a nap.
2. What time did you put down to write?
Your writing was scheduled to begin as soon as you got the kids off to school on Monday, but on Monday your son needed cleats for his ball gear. Then, your husband had a dinner guest coming unexpectedly for Tuesday night, and it was Wednesday before you revisited the calendar. So why hasn’t it gotten underway? Because by now you are mentally anguished and out of resources and cannot write. No wonder! You haven’t put any time aside for you.
3. Let's try this one!
Sometimes "new" ideas come to you and take your mind off the current WIP. It’s okay to do the stop and start thing if you KEEP GOING on the current WIP. Don’t let the idea monster gobble up the idea you are already working on. Put the new ideas on paper and file them for the week after you finished this first draft.
4. Another writer gets a contract and you are eating their dust!
Sometimes when a writer friend of ours hits the jackpot and gets a contract for an agent or publisher, it means the death of our time. We spend an enormous amount of energy either being jealous and not talking to them anymore, or acting like a burr in their sock and wanting to be as close to them as possible to learn as much as we can about the experience. Either way, it is a muse killer and soon our own writing is left behind.
5. Why don't we talk anymore?
When the writing pace decreases, the first place to look is a sagging middle. Most published authors will tell you, it is the middles that will kill writing efforts. My advice to fix a sagging middle or a basic beginning that is going nowhere is to kill someone. Killing off a character will definitely shake things up and get the ball rolling again.
What other things can you think of that will keep your writing on track? Many of you are planning on trying out the NanoWriMo method next month. If you will keep these things in mind, you may find you are more successful than you have ever dreamed of being.
Kim, excellent advice!!! The first topic is so pertinent in today's world of super fast communication. It kills me sometimes, and I always am struggling between wanting to be a decent, nice, helpful person, and saving time for my writing. I've managed to keep both ideals afloat, but sometimes I can't be QUITE as nice as I used to. I have to say no, fairly often. I hate it, but I have to do it if I'm to continue with my books. And I can't imagine life without them, so... the decision is already made. Thanks for a wonderful article.
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