Thursday, March 5, 2009

Work in Progress: My New Magic Trick

Here’s a new trick that really worked for me: I was feeling extremely stuck in my chapter, not able to figure out what was going to happen next, and I’d been staring at the screen for far too long. AND—it was time for lunch. The thought of returning from lunch and continuing to stare at my empty screen all afternoon was totally depressing.

So I told myself to come up with three things that could happen, just really quickly: “You don’t have to use them,” I assured myself. “Just type three things really fast even if they sound ridiculous. Then you can go off to lunch.”

Tippety-type on my computer keys—and voila! One of the three things was exactly the right thing to happen next. So it was off to lunch, and then a return to an idea already set up, which made for a much more pleasant and productive afternoon.

Try it when you’re stuck: three things, even if they’re stupid. At least you’ll then have something to work with. I think this would work at the end of the writing day, too, to leave yourself some shreds of possibility for the next day.

And Steve offered some good advice when I spoke to him on the phone; he suggested I “spend the day writing uncomfortably.” And he didn’t mean write while standing up. But what would happen if I pushed myself beyond the familiar and comforting, what if I tried something new? We’ll have to see….


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.