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Writing Recipe for Success

Toddler chefIt happens to every writer. At least once. We start a project, excited and inspired by the sparkly new idea. We run with it, fleshing out characters, working magic with dialog, setting, and plot. Then something happens. Our inspiration dissipates, like air from a hot air balloon. We’re slugging forward through molasses, when once we soared.

It’s easy to get discouraged, or possibly even give up on that great idea at this point. I’m here to tell you…


Writing a novel is a lot like baking a cake. You carefully organize and mix the ingredients, select and prepare the pan, then put it in the oven to bake at the right temperature for the perfect amount of time. Unlike the cake, a creative oven requires our input for the heat, and the time it takes to fully bake is not always in our favor. Deadliness be damned. Unfortunately, half-baked is only half there.

The good news is that you got the story into the oven. Here’s a few strategies on how you can get it out…fully baked.

Turning Up the Heat

We get stuck in our writing for lots of reasons. The best way to get unstuck is to shake things up, take a new approach, do something totally different. The unexpected has a way of jump starting creativity. Here’s few suggestions:

  • Go someplace you’ve always wanted to, but haven’t. A change of scenery, especially a place that elicits intrigue, works wonders.
  • Watch A LOT of movies and TV shows. Joss Whedon would watch four or five movies in a row (in one day) to study story. You never know what will provide the boost you need for your story.
  • Read A LOT of different things, both magazines and books. Read outside your comfort zone. Change is good. Embrace it.
  • Talk to people who have cool jobs, or who’ve had very different life experiences than your own. This is one of the things Amie Kauffman, co-author of Illuminae and Gemina, does to get new ideas.
  • Go to a public place and people watch. Imagine where they’re going and what they’ll do when they get there. Have fun creating stories without the pressure of an outcome.
  • Start a totally different project in a completely different genre, just for you. Published authors confess to doing this when they’ve been paralyzed under a deadline. TheFemail chef illustration story they started “for themselves” got them excited about writing again and they made their deadline. Those stories later became wildly popular books too. A win-win.
  • Brainstorm with other writers. Especially if you’re under deadline. Screenwriters work this way a lot.
  • Write stuff. Then write more stuff.
  • Fire your internal editor and keep going until you reach The End.

You’re doing great!