Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When It Feels Hopeless

The contest ended and your name wasn’t on the winners list. You can’t get past chapter one on your novel. The comments given by your critique group weren’t as glowing as you’d hoped; in fact they weren’t glowing at all.

These, and many other problems, are what we face when we embark upon the wild, stressful, exhilarating journey of writing.

So what do we do when it feels hopeless? When we feel like pitching our manuscript in the trash, rather than to an agent? Here are 5 tips I’ve found helpful:

1) Remember, even the best writers were once where you are. Think of your favorite writer. Jerry Jenkins? Beverley Lewis? How about one of my favorites- Charles Dickens? They all started somewhere. They all floundered. They all had days where writing was the last thing they wanted to do. But they all persevered and made it. You can too.

2) Stop, drop, and roll. We’ve all heard the saying. What most of us don’t realize is that it can apply to writers too. Stop writing, or blogging, editing etc. Drop (I don’t mean literally) your manuscript, and roll (again, not literally) away from it. Do something else. Read the book that inspired your story in the first place. Watch a movie. Go get a doughnut (or several if that’s what it takes!!) And then after a reasonable amount of time, go back, and start over. You’ll find it’s a lot easier after you’ve had a break.

3) Try a different approach. Occasionally try a different angle on a scene, or add a different facet to a character. Recently, in my current novel, I was struggling with liking a character enough to write about her. She was too loud, her dialogue wasn’t flowing, and I was hating every minute I spent in her company. I decided to change her past and circumstances and now she is one of the most sympathetic characters of all my novels.

4) Be open to constructive criticism. Recently, I received some not so positive feedback on a previous novel. After doing step two (stop, drop, and roll) I reread the comments, and found that many of them were just what I needed. I outlined the useful ones in red, crossed out the rest, and began to revise. Writing is not for the faint hearted so take critiques and make them work for you.

5) Remember who you write for. In the case of Christian Fiction, most of us write for the Lord. Pray about whatever it is your having trouble with. Write your concern down and place it in your Bible. Then wait for the Lord’s answer. You’ll be surprised at what it might be!

If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share them. We can all benefit from the help and support from other writers who are in the trenches with us.


djbarratt said...

I agree Amanda. Sometimes a break is what is needed to regain perspective. Also, keeping in mind who we write for is vital! Thanks for the tips!

Lori said...

Great advice Amanda! Good luck on starting your blog. I know you're going to be a huge success. :)