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  • Writer's pictureTina Radcliffe

When in Doubt... Smile!

More often than not you’re going to run into obstacles on this writing journey. Those moments when you feel overwhelmed seem to appear out of nowhere, just when you thought you had everything mapped out.

Obstacles can be anything from time issues, looming contractual deadlines, massive revisions, plot holes, self-doubt, writer’s block, life crisis versus writing or <insert your problem here>.

Speaking as a veteran traveler let me share thoughts from the map I keep in my glove box for those moments when confusion reigns and obstacles stand squarely in the road between me and my destination.

1. First things first. Immediately give up. That’s right. Just admit you can’t do it in your own strength and lay it all on the altar.

2. Recall the old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This is exactly how you’re going to deal with your problem. Break it down into small bites. If you have massive revisions, list the issues and deal with them one issue at a time.

3. Begin with tasks you know you can master. Short term success leads to long term success. Are you a great dialogue writer? Then write that tough scene in dialogue first and then layer it in.

4. When you’re stuck, don’t wallow. Move on to something you know you can do. (The writer police will never know you wrote ‘the end’ before you wrote the black moment.)

5. When you really hit a wall, take a break. Do something physical. Clean the refrigerator; take a walk, anything to let your mind work on the problem while you burn off nervous energy.

6. Set a timer. Stay in your chair and focus on one task for the allotted minutes.

7. Remember: one minute at a time, one hour at a time translates to one paragraph at a time, one scene at a time, one chapter at a time.

8. The secret to achieving your goals is to focus on what you can do, instead of what you cannot do, and to stop looking at how far you have to go, but instead look at how far you have come. -(you can quote me on that!)

9. Smile. That’s right. Smile. Numerous studies show that positive feelings translate to better cognition which means you are better able to focus.

It is that simple.

Now fold up your crinkled road map and prepare to eat that elephant.


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