May 27, 2016

Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something!

By Cheryl St.John

In Do it Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management, Mark Forster says, “I have coached quite a few PhD students over the years. They often come to me because they got stuck over writing their thesis. The first question I usually ask them is, ‘How long since you last did any work on your thesis?’ The answer is usually weeks ago, months ago or even in extreme cases years ago. I tell them the reason they are stuck is they haven’t done anything, not the other way around.”

Sometimes when we say we’re stuck, we’re just not doing anything! We got to a point where we didn’t know where to go and we stopped. We might have talked about our predicament. We have certainly thought about it. But how many steps have we actually taken to do something about it?

When you’re stalled out, you have to do something. If your car stops, you don’t just sit there and think about the problem. You don’t simply call a friend and tell him so he can sympathize with you. No, you call either a tow truck or your husband/wife to come get you–or you get out and walk. Maybe you even have to push the pile of bolts out of the middle of the road. When your story stalls, either call a tow truck and fork out for repairs or get out and walk. But do something. No matter how big, how small, or how relevant to your story, do something. Then repeat that or try something else the next day. Keep at it all the way, until you know where you’re going again—even if that’s not until the last chapter or the last page.

Sometimes getting through the difficult middle chapters takes a lot of rusty or wooden writing before anything-halfway golden takes shape. It ain’t the Mona Lisa, baby. Nobody gets better at anything without practice or without screwing up numerous times. The great news is: Crappy words on the page aren’t going to kill anyone. Imagine what the Mona Lisa looked like when old Leonardo first sketched it on the canvas. Suppose his internal critic thought, “Whoo-ee, this broad is u-gly. I’ll never make her look the way I see her in my mind?”

It’s our pride and vanity that doesn’t let us break loose and write freely.  And sometimes it’s laziness that doesn’t let us put words on paper.

So, you make up your mind not to sit in that stalled car, and you jump-start it. I’m not a big fan of exercises that don’t apply to my story or of writing many words that I’m not going to use, but everyone is different, and sometimes something out of the ordinary is what it takes.

* Write a short biography of the characters.
* Write a monologue.
* Write a scene with another character.
* Write dialogue that reveals a secret.
* Go on a date with your character and write the dialogue.
* Jump ahead and write a scene that you do know.
* Watch a movie. Note plot points and figure out why it worked for you.
* If books inspire you, read a book.

Same principles as the movie watching apply. Better yet if it’s a favorite book, and you already know the scenes and dialogue inspires you and reach your emotions. Sometimes you just need to be emotional to write. I’m not saying hormonal, God forbid, but emotional. A story is feelings. Remember what these characters make you feel. Remember the feelings you want to get across. Make notes. Jot down snips of dialogue that occur to you.

* Make a list of words while you’re at it. Grab a dictionary or a thesaurus or take notes during a movie. Make a list of interesting words you’re going to use and work them into your next scene.

Do whatever it takes to move forward. Do something!
Cheryl St.John is the author of over fifty novels, both historical and contemporary, print and indie published. Her stories have earned numerous RITA nominations, Romantic Times awards and are published in over a dozen languages. One thing all reviewers and readers agree on regarding Cheryl’s work is the degree of emotion and believability. Words like ‘heart-warming, emotional depth, touches your soul, tugs your heart, endearing characters and on my keeper shelf’ are commonly used to describe her work. In 2015 her Webinar Blockbuster Fiction was featured in the Writers Digest Novel & Short Story Writer's Market. She has a chapter in Creating Characters, Writers Digest's 2015 release. With a 4.9 star rating on amazon, Cheryl’s bestselling non-fiction book, Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict by Writers Digest Books is available in print and digital. Cheryl is an avid movie buff, and Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict reflects that by using examples from popular films to show examples of emotion and conflict. Her Social Media LINKS are: email Cheryl at:
Visit her on the web: Read her blog: From the Heart: Like her Facebook author page: She's a Pinterest junkie!

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