Monday, August 6, 2012


"Perhaps you've been focusing too much on that one thing."

SNARKY RESPONSE: One thing? No one can afford to focus on only ONE thing! Multi-tasking! It's the buzzword and definition of the modern life.

"Perhas you've been focusing too much on that one thing."

Now that I think about it. I have been a little too focused on that one thing and it probably is time to set it aside for a little while.

I've been working on a short story that I began in a workshop at RavenCon, a local science fiction & fantasy con. They have a wonderful writing track and the workshops always help me bring out interesting ideas and characters. This year's workshop produced an opening I'd found intriguing but the story I wrote to go with it has failed to make the mark. I labored hours on it and then inflicted it upon one of my trusted critique groups. They did their job and held me accountable. Hard as it was to admit, they saw what I felt was wrong and now I know it's time to let go. To give it some time, so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Writing requires that we tell a story from beginning to end. That we FINISH. And then it requires that we revise it, polish it, hone it until it shines. However, sometimes, it's necessary to set a story aside and let it, ferment, percolate, age.

Plus we need time away from the story to let our unconscious mind, our creative mind, puzzle away at it while we work on other things.

That's one of the wild and wonderful things about the creative process. It doesn't  require our undivided attention to be productive. Sometimes--often--our muse will putter around in the dusty, dark recesses of our brain and then, when we're least expecting it, they lob a brilliant solution or a satisfying conclusion into our consciousness like a lightning strike or, my personal favorite, a "clue by four."

So, I'm going to put the mermaid story aside for a little while. Not forever, just while I release my focus to shift it onto something else. Maybe  several something elses.

What about you?

Writers: have you had a plot knot or character dilemma that you futzed with for far too long? How did you resolve your quandary? Did you keep slogging away at it or did you pry your unwilling fingers off so you could step back?

Non-writers: surely you've dealt with sticky wickets that plagued your waking hours and haunted your sleep? What worked for you--release or tenacity or both?


  1. Yes I dream in color and my muse will speak to me at any hour. The hardest part is not finding ideas but listening to the inner voice. When my muse starts to tap me on the shoulder and says, "No, that doesn't work." she is always correct. The problem I have as a writer is listening to what she says. It could save me months of rewriting and second guessing.

  2. Hi, Tina! Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Listening to our muse sounds so natural, but our inner critic can often shout her down. Note to self: listen more to muse, less to inner critic!

  3. I finally had to step back from mine because it was literally driving me crazy. Went back with fresh eyes a few months later and realized I'd written myself into a corner. I agree with Tina, the muse always knows when something's wrong. Mine likes to take off when I don't listen to her. :)

    1. Hi Lis! Thank you for commenting and I hope your writing is moving more smoothly now and that your muse is staying by your side.