Contributed by Suzanne Lieurance
Are you struggling with a writing project that seems overwhelming?
All writers go through this at one time or another.
Usually it means that YOU—the writer—are not quite convinced you can pull off this particular book, article, novel, or whatever the project may be.
In fact, you probably spend precious energy second-guessing yourself thinking, What in the world did I get myself into this time?
But here’s the rub.
The project will only start to fall into place once YOU are convinced you can complete it.
So take a deep breath and relax.
Figure out why you’re struggling with this project and write down the problem(s).
For example—Do you have a too-tight deadline?
Does the project require intensive research and you’re overwhelmed with all the facts and figures you’ll need?
Are you spinning your wheels just trying to figure out how to get started?
Once you’ve figured out the real problems behind your struggle, take some steps to solve them.
For example, if you’re on a too-tight deadline, contact your editor right away and ask for more time.
Your editor wants quality work, and if you contact her now, rather than at the last minute, more than likely she won’t be upset about giving you more time.
Editors usually allow a little wiggle room for all projects anyway.
If your project requires intensive research, make a list of the source materials and experts you wish to use for this project.
Then, BEFORE you contact the experts, do enough research about the topic to develop a structure for the book or article you are trying to write.
You’ll have to do enough research to develop the topic headings, or chapter titles for your work.
But, once you’ve done that, THEN contact the experts with questions that relate to each of your topic or chapter titles.
That way, you’ll get quotes that relate closely to the material you already have for the project instead of lots of other material and quotes that will be difficult to work into your chapters or subtopics.
If you’re stuck at a point in your novel and you just can’t get your characters to move the story along, you probably don’t know the characters well enough and you’re trying to get them to do something they don’t want to do—or wouldn’t do if they were actual people.
Take one or two of the main characters and ask them some questions (yeah, this sounds crazy to people who aren’t writers, but I know YOU know what I mean).
Find out more about their backgrounds and you’ll learn more about their passions, desires, and fears, which will translate into motives and actions that will come naturally for these characters—and will be easier for you to write.
You really CAN complete that writing project that seems overwhelming.
YOU just have to believe it first.
Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, and the author of over 35 published books. She offers more tips and resources for writers at writebythesea.com.
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