RWA National: The Joy of Writing, With or Without a Contract

After the last year or two I’ve had, my writer self needed some TLC. Authors Dani Collins and Cathryn Parry presented several strategies to get yourself unmoored and productive. They provided a series of tools to tackle difficult writing situations.


  1. If you’re struggling with self-doubt, ask yourself “Why do I write?” and “What is success to me?” Then, reflect on your answers. Are you struggling because you’re trying to do something you don’t think is important? You have to love your self and the work you do.
  2. Identification and Self-Assessment Exercise: Say “I am…” and complete the sentence with something positive and enjoyable. Looking on writing as drudgery won’t help it come any easier. You have to build energy and stamina to create stories.
  3. Balance: You have more to draw on in your writing if you spend some time with friends, hobbies, and interests. Try a Julia Cameron-style Artist Date to recharge.
  4. Think from the End: Imagine your story as finished and present, something you are the conduit to relate.
  5. Think About Novel Problems Before Bed: Do this positively. Ask the question and let your subconscious work on it while you sleep.
  6. Send Positive Energy Out: Ideas are like frightened bunnies. Be positive and coax them to you rather than worrying them out of existence.
  7. Value Yourself: Published or not, be happy with what you’re doing. Stop doing what makes you unhappy.


  1. Turn off wi-fi. Self-explanatory. 😉
  2. Use a timer. You can amaze yourself with fifteen minutes’ worth of focus.
  3. Read inspiring quotes
  4. Try a different locale.
  5. Build a soundtrack for your story.
  6. Write through Anne Lamott’s One-Inch Picture Frame: focus on something small so you can achieve a manageable goal and build on success.
  7. Go back a bit, reread, then move on. Use your momentum to push you forward instead of starting cold.
  8. Determine the root case of your fear, then journal to get it out. Don’t pitch hissy fits to avoid working.
  9. Julia Cameron’s steps to identify and bust blocks are great.

TAKEAWAY ADVICE: Keep the drama on the page and stay positive!

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