Writing Advice of the Week: Write Your Way Out of the Slump

Reading Time: 9 minutes
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(Image by Fallon Clark via Adobe Firefly.)

Let’s be real for a moment:

The February slump is a thing.

And when it hits, it hits you hard.

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you may be feeling it right about now.

That New-Year gusto is gone, the days are short and dark, and comfy pants seem more like a daily requirement than weekend wear.

And during February, making time to write can feel a little extra difficult. The sun sets early, and it feels a bit like Mother Earth herself is encouraging us to rest. But when you’re already using limited time each day for your creative tasks, what can you do to prioritize writing?

This week, Ryan Lanz shared 7 Tips For Making Time To Write for A Writer’s Path, and his article includes — you guessed it! — seven great reminders of how much time we do actually have to use during a given day.

And while some of the tips presented are ones you’ve heard before (like setting goals), some of Lanz’s tips may be new to you, so check out the post and find what resonates that you can start doing today.

Now, you may be feeling the slump because you’ve stalled somewhere in your writing. If there’s any possibility that your slumping or stalling is related to the fear of what comes next (even if you think it can’t possibly be fear), watch this five-minute video via Write Better Fiction with Shirley Jump titled Do This To Conquer Your Biggest Fears As An Author And Keep Writing. The quick video is like a pep talk from a favorite aunt who only wants you to succeed.

And speaking of success, how certain are you that your story is properly focused?

If you have worries about a meandering story line or that you may be doing too many things at once for readers to follow, check out Jed Herne‘s video, This 1 Sticky Note Will Save Your Fantasy Novel. The video is fewer than 20 minutes and focuses on the core of your story — its premise.

Don’t let the title of the video fool you. Herne’s advice is applicable no matter your story’s genre. And I loved his color-coded breakdown of writing a premise sentence to focus on the points that truly matter while paring down the nice-to-haves that are not essential.

And as a bonus, the premise sentence will inform your blurb. If you’re writing that blurb, grab Penny Sansevieri’s article, Crafting A Book Blurb: 8 Tips To Entice Readers And Sell More Books for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

But a story needs more than a premise. It needs a plot to tie together all those elements in the premise.

Janice Hardy for Writers In The Storm wrote A Handy Trick For Brainstorming Your Plot and it’s worth checking out — especially if you’re stuck or elbows deep in revisions — for reminders about overall structure and turning points to guide you from beginning to end.

Hardy’s post will have you thinking about how to carry your readers through your story by putting your literary pieces in the right places.

Now, as you work through revisions, you may be wondering whether you have all the right pieces. For the answer to that question, check out Four Must-Haves In The First Two Paragraphs Of Every Chapter Or Scene by Suzy Vadori – Resident Writing Coach for Writers Helping Writers.

Vadori writes about the doorway effect, a psychological memory phenomenon, and how it relates to readers’ experiences when cutting to new scenes or chapters. Grounding the reader early is key, and Vadori encourages you to ground the reader using point of view, relative space and time, setting, and the opening cast of characters.

And if your pieces are in their places and you’re working through sentence-level language edits, consider this post by Bobbie Christmas for WOW! Women On Writing Blog titled, Ask The Book Doctor: About Tight Writing And Voice.

A story is a conversation between you and your future reader . . . except it’s one sided, and you have to guess at your reader’s reactions, questions, and confusion points.

Writing tightly as you hone your voice allows your reader to follow that bookish conversation more closely, thus avoiding those questions — except the ones you skillfully plant, of course.

And to test the strength of your conversation, it’s worth connecting with beta readers. If you don’t already have your team of reliable beta readers (or if you need some new readers), visit K.M. Weiland’s post for Helping Writers Become Authors titled, 12 Places To Find A Beta Reader, which includes links to sites based on your story’s needs and the platforms you may already be using.

As always, there were so many great nuggets of writing wisdom in this week’s advice that I didn’t have room for all of them. Check out the links at the bottom of this article to find what you need.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this week’s curated writing advice article. Was there a piece of advice that resonated with you? Something you have questions about? Something you wished to read about but didn’t? Leave a comment below and let me know how I can help you meet your writing goals.

Happy writing!

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Fallon Clark is a Vermont-based manuscript development coach and editor serving fiction and creative non-fiction authors. Her writing has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine. Check out her website, FallonEdits.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn or Substack.

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