In the midst of an unsolvable problem that clearly, to me anyway, the only answered seemed to just let it go.
It dumped my thinking into a Joseph or Job situation, and all I could do was hide my frustrations. There was a way to work around the problem and accomplish what I needed, but it seemed to involve something like growing spider legs and walking across the ceiling.
Sometimes frustrations soak into our pours to nudge us into asking for help or an opinion. Maybe there is a secret lever, knob, button in the trapped corner, that when pressed opens the door of escape, the better path, or the perfect answer, but we can't see it because our back is against the wall.
Of course, these corners appear in many areas of our lives, not just our stories. But these same real-life situations are important because they affect our writing by touching our heart.
Here are some tips to help you:
1. Pray - Ask God.
This had to be number one on the list. For my recent problem, I decided to remain standing in my painted corner. God allows these opportunities to give us strength. A sandpaper situation to smooth yet another ragged area of life. Sometimes we become so engulfed in the problem, we are blind to a solution and forget to ask God for help.
Yep, right behind me, poking me in the back, sat a secret knob in the wall waiting for me to twist and push open. The solution didn't provide an easier way. It provided a way that would enable everyone involved to accomplish their task. Fancy that. God engineered the best solution, not me.
2. Fresh Cup of Coffee Solution - Ask someone else.
Which would you rather have: a reheated in the microwave cup of yesterday's coffee/tea or a fresh-brewed cup?
There are thousands of ideas, situations, experiences from your life all stored in your head. Many would make great stories. But as you write and pull from these situations do you find them somewhat lacking in fresh appeal? Wouldn't it be nice to bring a fresh take, one that would intrigue readers and add a sparkle to your memories?
Ask someone else who experienced a similar situation. Just as our characters have different POV's, so also do our neighbors, family, and friends. Here is an example: I happened upon one of those contest TV shows. Backstage, one of the contestants became frustrated with his partner. He said, "Her eyes are going like ping pong balls in her head." Ooo I thought. Now there is a fresh take on searching aimlessly for an answer.
You might be surprised who you could ask for an idea, confirmation of a plot, scene, character, subplot, conflict, etc. Get away from your screen and notes to listen to conversations. Summer is a great time to learn from neighbors. watch a movie, or go for a walk. Listen to the words and sounds around you for fresh takes.
Simon from the singing duo Simon and Garfunkel told an interviewer his ideas for songs came from walking the city streets. Many of his rhythms and sounds repeat what he heard on those walks and the messages reflect what he saw.
Also, have you noticed the best quotable lines from written works have great rhythm?
Make a fresh pot of ideas, add flavors from others, heat up the brew or serve some iced.
3. The Look in the Mirror Solution - Ask yourself
You had a great idea for the outfit you were going to wear today . . . until you saw yourself wearing the clothes in the mirror. Five or six changes later, you found the perfect choice.
For both plotter or pantsers our ideas can seem wonderful and flow across the page. At some point, we look back and realize the idea didn't exactly work. It needed tweaking, or in some cases trashing.
Maybe you need to wash the idea. Get rid of wordiness, scrub out excessive backstory, use a new setting/add a new character/delete a character.
Iron out the idea wrinkles. Something doesn't flow, doesn't fit the situation, time/season doesn't work, the male character sounds girly/the female sounds masculine, the child too old/the adult too young, the MC should be changed to a secondary character, the POV should be someone else's, etc.
Now try on the cleansed idea, conflict, plot, dialogue, issue. Does it look better?
Sometimes the obvious stares us right in the face and we can't see it. A can't see the tree for the forest moment.
Hopefully this has helped you see a direction:
Ask Someone else.
Today, I open the door for you. Is there something you are struggling with that we can offer help? A friend recently asked me to help her determine a lie for the hero to believe. Maybe we can brainstorm yours. Do you need a fresh idea, tweak, sparkle, word of encouragement? Or perhaps you have a prayer request.
We love to hear from you.
photos above courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction with a focus on the homeless population and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.