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This post goes out to all my fellow struggling writers out there…

Sometimes it happens. Authors find their creativity, sense of purpose, and vision has stalled out. (Believe me, I’ve been there.) And so I’ll devote this installment of the Jessie Mae Hodsdon Writing Guidebook to that very thing. How to win back excitement when writing has taken on a monotonous or overwhelming quality.

Blog Bonus Feature: I consider creativity a gift. A treasure of immeasurable price. And so, when it threatens to disappear–being swallowed up by the busyness of life or the pressure of deadlines–I fight back. Because I refuse to let imagination slip out of my life. Don’t give up, struggling, starving, drained artists. Please. Don’t give up.

#63: Recognize that the Halfway Point is Hard.

Anticipate that inspiration will dry up around the 1/3 or 1/2 mark of your novel. The initial excitement over the characters has run its course; you have established your setting; and the basic plot is well in hand. Now what? Whether or not you outline, there comes a point of uncertainty. The best way to deal with it is to expect it. Then you won’t be discouraged when it arrives.

#47: There is Value in a Break.

I want to start this entry by offering a warning. Just as breaks have the potential to bless, they also have the potential to curse. If you make them purposeless (ie not writing, reading, or daydreaming anything), they could destroy your rhythm. Instead, take a purposeful break from your story by reading multiple novels, watching movies, and doing something unrelated but creative. (Your probably already know what that creative thing is. Maybe you like to cook or play guitar or draw. You get my drift…) This will stimulate new creativity inside of you and, before long, you will find the old passion for your story returning

#81: Minor Characters have the Potential to be Awesome.

I’ll assume you are familiar with Frozen. Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff are incredible main characters, but really… where would the movie have been without the trolls? Not far. Kristoff would have been a little less loveable. Anna wouldn’t have gotten the push to accept her feelings. And the essential clue/moral of the movie would have been lost. Not to mention the trolls (especially Grand Pabbie) added flair and spice to the story. The minor characters gave background to a major character (Kristoff), direction to the writer, plot clues to the movie watcher, and color to the story.

I’m a big fan of secondary characters. (And I’ll admit, sometimes I carry them a little too far.) But minor characters, being able to sustain eccentric personalities you could never get away with for main characters, have limitless potential. When your writing has stalled, turn your focus from the main characters you know so well and let your mind tool on the minor characters. Perhaps you will discover background, direction, plot clues, and color too.

If you have other ways to deal with the stall-out point of a novel, let me know in the comments! Best wishes in your writing endeavors,

Jessie Mae

(See my previous posts about the Guidebook here and here.)

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Have you ever had a slump of reading books? You have borrowed copies piling up high in your bookshelf, desk, cupboards, and eventually floors, but you still can’t force yourself to read those usually beautiful words on the page? I can’t identify why books seem to be a lost art to me, but they most certainly are.

I don’t remember ever having a slump like this before. Perhaps slumps occurred when I had nothing to read but non-fiction, but never when I have had exciting books in my possession. Really, I need to read them and give them back to their owners. But every time I open the page it seems as if they speak a different language. As if they no longer are meant for me. Even recently released books in series I love haven’t made it onto the Christmas list. I have truly and completely lost my love of reading.

Puzzling.

In the mean time my creativity, with nowhere else to visit, causes my dreams to get stranger and stranger. That horrible rendition of “I’m not going to graduate college because I forgot about one of my classes for a whole semester” felt like it lasted for more than an hour. That dream was followed by wardrobe malfunctions and surrounded by other, nastier dreams. Evidently, I need to find a positive way to release the creativity pent up inside me.

I remember falling in love with reading. It was Dickens’ fault, aided by my sister Julie who just kept pushing books my way until one stuck. Thank goodness for her. And for David Copperfield. Hours and hours of blissful escape followed, as I delved into works as weathered as Austen’s and as fresh as Riordan’s.These books taught me how to harness the imagination and their characters granted me some of my best childhood friends. So how is it possible for me to have lost the love of reading? I’m not sure, but here is the consoling and final word on the matter:

Slumps don’t last.

 

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