Monday, August 31

Posted by Laurel Garver on Monday, August 31, 2009 1 comment
It's pretty common to hit road blocks while taking on the Herculean task of drafting a novel. What I didn't expect was how simultaneously trying to market a finished book has sucked away much of my creative energy. During the recent weeks of ramping up new queries, every time I open my WIP, I feel stuck, stuck, stuck. And yet, the less I write, the more miserable I become. It's a vicious cycle and escaping it requires good tools.
First, I find that talking writing with other writers can be enough of an energy boost to get me going again. A writer's group that a friend and I started up this spring met this weekend and critiqued pieces of two of the members. The energy in the group is beginning to snowball in exciting ways. Only one of the group has done much publishing, but the rest of us are inching toward the goal of becoming published authors. Knowing these folks value my perspective and commitment (and won't let me wimp out and quit when the going gets tough) helps me hang in there.

Second, I hit the shelves. Sometimes it's reading a few pages of a favorite author like Susan Howatch that reminds me why I write. Other times, like this past week in particular, I need a sage mentor to address the stuckness head-on and offer strategies for getting unstuck.

I found just such a mentor in Barbara DeMarco-Barrett and her wonderful book Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within. The title alone made me want to find this woman and hug her. She gets it. She's direct and so insightful about the torn guilt women writers feel. Our families and homes and jobs and spiritual disciplines and friends and volunteer commitments all vie for our time and attention, and yet the vast world within our imaginations begs to be brought to life. We want to be everything to everyone, and often it's writing that gets shelved, though doing so comes at the cost of amputating part of one's truest self.

I felt particularly encouraged by her notion of taking small, incremental steps. Because writers write. Everyone else just makes excuses. While some can hit a 500-1,000 words-a-day goal, the rest of us merely need to keep up the discipline of writing for 15 minutes each day--even rough notes or lists or journal entries. This "counts" as writing. The book is chock full of exercises to fill that 15 minutes when ideas just don't flow.
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  1. Do blog posts count like the lists and journal entries? If so, then yes, I'm still doing some writing! :o) This book sounds like a handy motivator. Thanks for drawing my attention to it. We'll see if my local store happens to have a copy.