Finding What Works Right Now

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Edwards' Mango

Is it just me? What works right one time, may not work right the next time. Like Sioux and Cathy, I’m looking for life lessons that can be translated into writing lessons. This one came from a mango seed. 

During 2020, I got a wild hair and decided to sprout a mango seed. The boy and I were working our way through numerous mangos so we had the raw material. I looked up how to do it online and found instructions for cutting away the hull and sprouting the seed in a damp paper towel. I removed the hull and discovered our seed already had both a sprout and roots. We planted it in soil which I spritzed daily until the sprout produced leaves. Success! 

The next mango seed molded in the soil. The third had neither a sprout nor roots so we wrapped it in a paper towel, actually following all of the instructions I had found. We then discovered that a seed could mold just as effectively in a paper towel as it could in soil. Clearly what worked right one time in terms of growing a mango plant was not guaranteed to work another. And what worked for someone else multiple times didn’t work for me. 

The same thing often happens when it comes time to write. Renee and I both participated in the Save the Cat Breaking the Beat Sheet blog tour. Renee loved using the scene cards and encouraged me to do the same. After all, I’m really visual. I jumped in and made it scene by scene through the first act. But I bogged down just under half way through Act 2. 

I finally realized that using a poster board to lay things out what too cluttered for me. Cards overlapped. It was visually cluttered. I’m dyslexic and I just couldn’t focus with this mess in front of me. This reality surprised me because me office is something of a disaster. That’s the polite way of saying I’m one crap-alanche away from a clean desk. Whatever.  This system wasn't working. 

I took my poster and my cards and redid it all in a Word document. It is 2 columns and 4 landscape pages so I can’t see it all at once, but it is neat and I can visually scan my scenes with ease. What a relief to find something that works! 

Still, I sometimes I have troubles getting going when I sit down to write. A more experienced novelist suggested that when I near the end of a writing session, I stop without finishing the current 

I hope you could tell that I left off the word "sentence." It looks strange to leave a line hanging like that but I’ve also noticed that I can sit down, read the line and start typing. There’s no hesitation.  I don't know that this would work when I write nonfiction but for fiction, it is the perfect way to jump start my writing session.

When you visit the Muffin, we hope that you read our posts and find techniques that work for you.  If you have to alter them to make them work, let us know what you’ve done. Your method may be what someone else needs to spark the solution that will work right now. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on August 2, 2021).  Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins August 2, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  August 2, 2021). 


Cathy C. Hall said...

Okay, first, I LOVE THAT WORD CRAP-ALANCHE! (Is that how you spelled it?) Whatever. That's going in a story or novel or something.

And secondly, yes, yes, yes! What worked for me ten years ago may not work now; it's a process, writing, and I'm always learning and applying what I've learned. Sometimes it works and sometimes, not so much. But it's always worth a try.

And lastly, y'all are getting pretty darn good at life lessons translating to writing lessons. I'm gonna have to step up my game! :-)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I did ask my husband which of us invented the term crap-alanche. We can't remember. It is a household favorite.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to constantly reimagine my process!

Renee Roberson said...

Sue--I've found smaller scene/note cards work much better for smaller ideas, like blog post topics or podcast ideas. But as for novel writing, it's much easier to open up a word document and pre-write my ideas and plot points. I guess I'm just a wordy person who needs more space, ha ha! But I think every writer has to find what work best for him or her, and that will evolve over time.

Now I'm craving a nice, juicy mango . . .

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Wouldn't it be easier if we could figure this out one time and be done? But then, what would we blog about?

Yes, a mango would be nice. May have to put on my shoes and run to the produce market.

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