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Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing

I bet you thought of Finding Nemo. I know I do when I think of ‘Just Keep Writing’. I sing it to myself. John Dufresne’s book, “The Lie That Tell A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction” has one line that jumped from the page and hit me like a cold Chicago morning wind in January, (for those not in Chicago, trust me, it hurts), and that line is, “ Understand that if you didn’t write today it’s because you didn’t want to”. Ouch. He goes on to say that “you don’t have perseverance or the courage to sit there. You lack the will and passion. Maybe you don’t enjoy it enough–we always find time to do the things we love. Your choice not to write –and it is a choice– had nothing to do with what has been called writers block.” Double ouch.

So what exactly does this mean? It means we find excuses not to write. Dufresne says that there is no such thing as writer's block. If you get stuck in your story, write somewhere else. Work on a subplot, start on the ending, expand your settings and scenes, jot down some notes about how you're stuck and come up with solutions to fix it. A book does not have to be written from start to finish. Many times I will write a middle section and then figure out how my story is going to get there. It changes constantly, but by doing different things, your story will grow into something you never expected. Tired of working on your story and want to put it aside for a bit? Ok, but don’t stop writing. Here are some tips that have worked for me:

  • Start a writer’s journal. It is not the same as a personal journal. A writer’s journal is a place to jot all your ideas down. I have three books in the making and I use my journal as a place to meet my characters, set the scene, ect… There are some days I simply write a title.

  • Quiet time. We get so busy in our everyday lives that we don’t take down time. It is difficult to write when your mind is clouded by the events of the day, or week or month. Learn to take 30 minutes to clear your mind. If 30 seems too much, start with 10 and work your way up. Meditate or pray or just sit.

  • Don’t worry about grammar just yet. It’s a rough draft. The object of a rough draft is to get it done, then fine tune it. Don’t stop writing because you are at a loss for the perfect word. If I can’t think of the word I really want to use, I use a synonym, highlight it and return to it later. Sentence structure and English rules do not exist in a rough draft. That’s what editors are for.

  • Have a writing place. It is important to have a place just for writing. Whether you have a home office, your bedroom, a quiet place in your house or the library. Make sure it is the same place. In my office, my desk always needs to face the window. To stare out of it brings my peace and clears my mind.

I hope this helps!! And if you keep Dufresne’s words in mind, you will be honest with yourself when you don’t write. So, just keep writing!

Until next time….


Work Cited

Dufresne, John, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2003, pp 21-22



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