July 15, 2013

Getting Past the Panic Point

By Lisa Wingate

It happens to most of us eventually.  At some point during the hours, and hours, and hours of writing that goes into the creation of a novel, panic begins to set in. 

The panic voice whispers things like,

This story is a waste of time.  It’s a total bomb.
You’ll never make that deadline.  Not with this pile of hoo-hoo.
You’ve written yourself into a corner now.  You’ll never get out.
It’s moving too slow.
It’s moving to fast. 
It’s junk.
What ever made you think you could be a writer?

Does any of this sound familiar?  Am I talking to the right crowd here?  If none of this rings a bell for you, please send me some of your mojo, because I hit the panic point on every manuscript, and the latest release, Firefly Island, is no exception.  If you’re lolling around in the mire of the panic point right now, or if you find yourself ending up there repeatedly on manuscript after manuscript, here are a few tips for getting past the panic point and journeying on to those glorious final pages, where all the loose threads become the weave of another great story:

1.  Keep trudging.  I know it sounds elementary, but keep putting words on the page, even if you’re convinced that they’re junk.  A whole manuscript that needs work is better than three perfect chapters any day. Don’t let the panic point knock you off your writing schedule.  It can feel like you’re slogging through the mire, but even slogging will take you somewhere.

2.  Get out the index cards.  Make notations about major plot points you know will be in the story, then make notations about possible scenes. Lay out the cards, arrange into chapters.  If you’re a seat-of-the-pants writer, you might change much of this later, but having a potential plan is a great way to move past the panic point.

3.  Add a character, remove a character, kill a character, change locations Consider changing the story up a bit.  A change in staff or location might be just the burst of fresh air you need to get going again.

4.  Brainstorm with a buddy.  Talk through the scene with a brainstorming buddy.  Discuss what might happen next and what wouldn’t happen next.  Have your buddy hold you accountable for getting on with your writing.

5.  Exercise or do something creative. Never underestimate the power of physical activity or creative activity to get the brain moving.  If you have a cell phone or iPad, or iPod, consider using the built-in dictation app and working on your story while you walk or do a craft project.  Sometimes a change in writing location or routine can make a big difference.

6.  Realize that it’s supposed to be hard.  That’s all there is to it.  For most of us, writing an entire novel is hard.  Why shouldn’t it be?  You’re creating lives that never existed, on stages of altered reality, and trying to make it all sound believable.  And that, my friends, is no small job!

Above all, don’t listen to the panic voice.  What does it know? 

It hasn’t ever written a novel, now has it? _____________________________________________________________
Lisa Wingate is a magazine columnist, inspirational speaker, and the author of twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, now in its seventeenth printing.  She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner.  She has found success in both the inspirational and general fiction markets, writing mainstream fiction for Penguin Putnam and Bethany House. Recently, the group, Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Her latest book releases today,The Sea Glass Sisters is the prequel novella toher bookThe Prayer BoxMore information about Lisa’s novels can be found at  Twitter:!/lisawingate
Blogging Mondays at:

No comments:

Post a Comment