Help, I’m stuck on the page! — 10 Tips to Get Your Pen Moving Again~

1) Breathe!  Slowly, deeply, it’s all okay and normal and you will be fine, truly. (And repeat.) 2) Put the story structure info away—in a drawer, in a trash can, in a virtual trash can—and don’t look at it again. When it causes anxiety it is no longer useful. Shred any piece of paper that tells you that there are rules for writing a novel. 3) Know that finishing is difficult for your creative self (and mine and everyone’s!). Resistance can swell a bit when the end of a draft (or even “almost-draft”) nears. 4) Know that you are the …

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@NaNoWriMo2015-Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #30)

Okay, so technically this 30th NaNoWriMo post comes to you on December 1. (Even if I pretend that I’m writing this in Honolulu, we are still minutes into the last month of the year.) So I’m opting for flexible and sending out congratulations to all who wrote their way through November. Hopefully, depending upon where you are in the world–catching up on your ZZZZZZs, watching the sun rise, or midway through your day–you are celebrating your accomplishment. There is more writing to be done, more drafts of your novel (more screenplays, essays, short stories, memoirs). We writers write, rewrite, edit, …

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#NaNoWriMo2015-Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #28)

When I fall in love with a book it is because I experience the story as if it lives and breathes inside me; I can summon and recall the evocative and pivotal images as clearly as if I’d been there. Because I am there, each time I dive into a story I love, I participate as a reader and the most powerful images are a dance of the visual and the visceral. Make wise use of the pivotal images of the story you are writing. What is the opening image of your story? Visualize your hero just as the story …

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#NaNoWriMo2015-Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #27)

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo2015 you might be feeling down to the wire–and maybe in need of the ROCKY theme song. Today’s reminder is to celebrate your small victories even as you set your sights on the gold ring! For many of us it is easy to focus on all the things we didn’t get done–while we overlook the myriad things we did. So take a few minutes during your day to acknowledge the moments of kindness you shared with others, the words on the page however raw and rough they might be, the bill you paid, the errand you …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #19)

Okay, for today’s tip, here I go again, talking about staying curious about what your protagonist wants. And, remember, our fictional heroes are extreme–they go after what they want with an intensity that can be frightening and invigorating and freeing. They are bigger than life and we can watch them slip and slide and struggle and push and yearn and obsess to the extreme, whether their story is a tragedy or a comedy. So back to the want. I wrote a very personal blog post a few years ago about going through the death of my marriage and how the …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #15)

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo, you are halfway through your month and you might be wondering if you’re going to make it all the way through your draft by November 30th. If you’re flagging, take a deep breath (and perhaps a nap) and give yourself the credit you deserve: you’ve taken on a big challenge and that’s a victory all its own! Did you take a selfie on Day #1? If yes, look it over, put it away, and take another selfie now, on Day #15. If you didn’t take an actual photo, picture what you looked like two …

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Pump Up the Faith Muscles

I just finished a phone conversation with a writer I know. He is new to writing and he’s eager to learn his craft—although he already understands how to write strong, entertaining scenes. I remind him of this often. Still, he worries a lot. I remind him, also, that his characters are strong and they have suffered and we care about them. Characters have the power to invite us into their book so we follow them eagerly across the most tumultuous narrative seas; characters also have the less-than-desirable power to shoo us away from reading because we don’t care about them …

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COACHING QUESTIONS TO KEEP YOU ON COURSE

When I was nineteen I started a business with a partner and we called it “Hat Trick Hats”. We wanted to be portable. We sold our hand-stitched leather creations on the sidewalks of Santa Barbara and on the Wharf and Union Square in San Francisco. We wanted to be free to make our own designs and decisions and we accomplished both. We needed to make a living and sometimes we actually ended the month with a financial surplus! Of course that money was quickly spent to replenish our supplies to make more hats. Our goal was never to get rich—and …

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