Required Reading

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Guest Post by Buying Time Author Pamela Samuels Young


Digging Out of a Writing Slump

You’ve been working on your novel for months, maybe even years, and lately you feel more discouraged than ever. Perhaps it’s the disappointment of not having finished the book yet. Maybe you don’t know where to go next with your story. Or it’s possible that you’re just physically and emotional drained from all the time and effort you’ve poured into this dream. I’ve been there!

Occasionally falling into a writing slump isn’t reason for alarm. What’s important is that you don’t stay there too long. Here are five tips for re-energizing yourself when you feel like giving up.

■ Read Inspirational Stories About Writing and Writers

Take a writing break and read about successful writers who weathered the storm. Here are two excellent books to get you started:

"Knit Together: Discovery God’s Pattern for Your Life" by Debbie Macomber.

This book was such an inspiration to me. Macomber, a best selling writer with more than 100 million books in print, openly shares her story of writing rejection. Once you read about her writing journey, you’ll close the book anxious to get back to your own novel.

"Rotten Reviews & Rejections", edited by Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard. This book shares the rejection letters and stinging reviews received by many successful and prolific writers, from Stephen King to Upton Sinclair to James Joyce and more. You’ll scratch your head at the discouraging rejection letters these wonderful writers received. They didn’t give up, and you shouldn’t either.


■ Don’t Strive for Perfect Prose

Many new writers think that everything that flows from their fingertips must be golden. Hence, if they write a few pages that don’t sound worthy of a Pulitzer, they’re disappointed. Forget about writing a perfect prose right out of the box. The most important part of writing is rewriting. Just concentrate on finishing your first draft. Then revise until you’re pleased with the final product.

■ Set a Writing Goal

Make a commitment to write a set number of pages per week. Can you commit to writing 10 or 15 pages per week? Or perhaps writing three hours a day or three days a week works better for you. Whatever goal you set, make sure it’s realistic. Start out small and once you get into the flow of things, increase your goal. And if you fall short one week, don’t beat yourself up. There’s always next week.

■ Start a Writer’s Group

Put the word out that you’re looking to start a writer’s group. Tell friends, family members and colleagues that you’re looking for three or four serious writers who would like to build a supportive writing environment for themselves and other writers. You’ll probably have a lot of interest in the beginning, but only the serious writers will be around for the long haul. Establish a regular meeting time (at least once a month) and require at least two members to produce work for the group to critique each month.


■ Think About Your Story

Most people assume that if you’re not putting words on paper, then you’re not “writing.” I don’t feel that way. The next time you’re taking a long walk, standing in a grocery store line, or stuck in traffic, use the time to mull over your story. Think about your characters or your plot. Imagine your protagonist having a conversation. Think about how you might describe a room. Challenge yourself to invent a predicament that creates conflict for your character. If you come up with some great ideas, don’t forget to write them down.



Pamela Samuels Young is a Los Angeles-area attorney and the author of four legal thrillers. Her latest release, Buying Time, is her first stand-along novel. A former television news writer, Pamela is the Fiction Expert for BizyMoms.com and is on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. To contact Pamela or to read an excerpt of her books, visit www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com. For more writing tips from Pamela, visit www.bizymoms.com.

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