Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Get Your Groove Back!

After 9/11, I stopped writing fiction for 18 months. Luckily, obligations forced me to keep writing nonfiction, which meant my storytelling reboot wasn't completely cold. When I came back, reclaiming my vocation was slow and the writing itself was different. I got my groove back in three steps.
  • I started small. - Flash fiction had been my friend early in my career, and I found I could write a full story in one sitting. I also discovered that there was a big market for flash fiction, thanks to Duotrope. Ultimately, I was selling everything I wrote. (Note: This is fun, but not a way to get rich.)
  • I transformed my approach. - I used to plot out everything before a draft. Now, I'm a pantser most of the time, and I worry about straightening out the plot when I have something on paper. Both approaches are valid, but making the transition boosted the fun for me.
  • I wrote to serve a purpose. - I moved from flash fiction (and a few short stories) back in to novel length work a the behest of a friend who had a great story to tell and, frankly, some time on his hands after a layoff. A film script was the goal, but he was unfamiliar with that format, so -- to get the story right -- I wrote 45K words of prose in about 6 weeks as regular installments. I then wrote the complete screenplay, which is now making the rounds in contests.
I believe in writing every day, but life still gets in the way from time to time. When in does, it can be hard for me to get back into the groove. I use the lessons above to ease myself back: Start small, find an approach that feels like fun, and have a purpose (serving someone else or a higher good). It worked for me once and it still helps me when I get off track. What do you do to get your groove back?

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