I’ve been following the “Write a Novel in a Year” column by Anthony Ehlers in Writer’s Write occasionally—it helps to keep me motivated, and it’s good advice. I’ve been regaining enthusiasm for my project that has languished now for months. Progress has been boosted by my return to regular swimming, where I get some great ideas as I go up and down the pool, and I’ve also had some thoughts before I go to sleep—both hopeful signs for my picking up steam on this book.
The Writer’s Write column is in week 24 of the 52-week program, which corresponds to the time when most writers—and I’m no exception—hit the sagging middle. This week’s column has lots of good advice generally about goal setting, preparation, and the importance of style compared to story, but I particularly enjoyed his “5 Quick Hacks” for finding the kernel of what you’re doing when you get stalled. They are:
- If you don’t have time to write a full scene, give it a quick and dirty draft – write it as a five-minute short story.
- Imagine you have to write a report on the status of your novel. What would be the highlights or successes? What would be the challenges? Sometimes seeing it written down can help you refocus.
- Think back to the last book you read or movie you watched. How would you describe the style of the piece? Did it add to your enjoyment of it? Or simply detract?
- Have a conversation with an ‘imaginary editor’ about your book. What kind of questions would they ask?
- Have the same conversations with the characters in your book. What would they ask about what you’re doing to them? What answers would you give?
Finally, did you recognize the title of this post? “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress” was first said by Philip Roth.