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How to Write When You Don’t Want To: An Uncommon Approach

Today’s guest post is by Michelle Boyd.

It’s early. The apartment is quiet. My calendar’s clear and my phone’s on Do Not Disturb. I’ve got all the time in the world to write … but I don’t want to.

It doesn’t matter that the conditions are perfect, or that I’ve been looking forward to this quiet time for days. The fact is, I’m dreaming of my winter garden. I’m busy planning holiday menus. And there’s a knitting project calling to me from the comfy chair in my living room.

It all adds up to the same old thing: I want the writing to be done. But I don’t want to have to do it.

When this happens, I sometimes go down a dreadful path, berating and judging myself, wondering why I’m being so “lazy.” I do this even though I know, from research, personal experience, and a decade coaching other writers that there are kinder, more effective strategies for getting ourselves to write when we don’t want to.

The one I’d like to suggest? Lie. Continue Reading…

Writing about Difficult Emotional Experiences

Writing novels can take us on a heavy emotional journey, depending on what we’re writing about and why. Certainly memoirs do too. While no one holds a gun to our heads (one hopes!) to force us into writing about painful things, sometimes our souls subtly prompt us in order for healing to take place.

These are some of my thoughts that I had when writing my novel Conundrum, which forced me to delve deeply into personal trauma. I hadn’t wanted to write this novel, but I had a dream. Two actually.

You may pooh-pooh such “spiritual” or divine events, but if you’ve ever had one, you’ll agree it’s hard to discount them. These “visions” seem ultra-real. And these dreams were not just vivid—they gave me the title, themes, characters, storyline, and first chapter of my novel. I felt a strong compulsion and need to write the novel, even though I didn’t want to.

As I stared down the imposing novel I was attempting to write, Conundrum, I wielded my vorpal sword in hand. Snicker-snack it went, one two!…oh wait, that’s used to fight the Jabberwock, my son … “Jabberwocky” and many other poems found their home in my new novel, an unravelling mystery based upon the bizarre tailings of my father’s death in 1961. Usually I have no problem plowing through my index cards of scenes, progressing steadily to the finish. But this work was an unruly child, full of deceit and intent on pain. Continue Reading…

Advice I Would Have Given Myself on Writing and Publishing

I shared these insights on my blog 8 years ago. They sure seem relevant still. See what you think and add your own in the comments!

If I could go back in time and sit my younger self down to have a serious talk about the years of rough road ahead, I would have a lot more than three main bits of advice. I think a daylong discussion would ensue, and perhaps (well, more like probably) at the end of it, my younger self would decide the best course of action would be to avoid beginning the arduous novel journey at all. Continue Reading…

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