Sunday, January 9, 2011

Writers' Leap of Faith

Happy New Year! Time for new resolutions, new starts, and new experimentation. Sometimes it's hard, however, to take a leap of faith and try something new, especially when it comes to writing.

Have you found a writing method that works for you? A method of planning your novel and writing that first draft that seems foolproof? A method that has worked for you reliably in the past, one with which you feel comfortable? You're confident in your writing because you're familiar with it, and you can see your word count build up as your characters grow and work their way through a plot with a beginning, middle and climax that all occur at the right proportional points in your manuscript. Well, congratulations!

But perhaps this trustworthy method isn't really serving you as well as if did the first time you experimented with it, and were delighted with the new aspects of your novel that it helped you discover then. Be honest: since you've been writing with this method, have you continued
making new discoveries and pushing your ideas to their limits? Sometimes you need to shake up your procedure, or you can fall prey to stultifying sameness that compromises the complexity of your ideas.

So start the New Year by experimenting with some new writing methods.
Check out Martha Alderson's terrific Blockbuster Plots books and videos.
Explore software like Dramatica or Scrivener. Check out my own book on Character and Plot development. These are all tools - they won't write your book for you, but they'll help you look at your idea through new eyes, asking new questions that might help you make new discoveries about your characters and their story, and explore avenues with exciting potential that you hadn't considered with your comfortable method.

Never let yourself become complacent in your writing. Complacency can stifle your imagination and prevent you from tackling the hard questions that could force you to confront uncomfortable ideas. Those uncomfortable nudges are the very ideas that could elevate your comfortable book to something challenging and remarkable and new.


  1. Happy New Year, Elaine!
    Deepest gratitude for so generously including BBP in your line-up of helpful support for writers.
    I look forward to buying your book -- just the cover itself makes me want to learn more.
    Thanks again.
    Here's to a successful year for all of us.

  2. Happy New Year to you too, Martha. You're so welcome - your Blockbuster Plots is such a great, probing program to help guide and inspire writers - I hope some of my readers here and on FB try it! Thanks for your kind words about my book - that was the third cover the publishers (Writers Digest Books) came up with - the first two were painful, and I was so relieved to see this one! Yes - here's to a successful year for us all!