Not Making Any Progress? Try Switching Gears

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Way back in the olden days, Angela used to tease me about how many ideas I jotted down. Anything and everything could give me an idea for a story, an article, or a title. And it happened every single day. But in the last few years, the ideas slowed down. A good month yielded maybe 10 ideas. I wondered if it was menopause or lockdown or. . . 

The problem was that I didn’t want something to blame. I wanted a jump start. 

As you know, I love taking classes. I take history classes and science classes. I sign up for social science classes and classes on the humanities. I also take writing classes, and that’s where I found an answer.

When I signed up for Amber Petty’s free class on how to create a pitch in 30 minutes, I had a book due in two weeks and needed to finish my first draft. I almost talked myself out of taking the class. After all, I know how to pitch. But I’m glad I took the time to attend. 

Amber is high energy and encouraging. She talked about all the things magazines and websites publish – articles, essays, crafts, and food-writing. She talked about reading your target market to find ideas. I knew this, but the webinar kicked something loose. 

The ideas are once again flowing because I shifted gears. I’m not leaving behind my book-length work, but Amber turned my attention to magazine and website publishing. The idea of something new was all I needed. 

Is your writing life is sluggish and uncertain? Maybe it’s a chore to find time to write. I would suggest that you reenergize by shifting gears. How you shift gears will depend on you, but here are a few suggestions. 

Write Something New 

Maybe what worked for me will work for you as well. Consider writing something new. Maybe you’ve always wanted to write poetry or essays. Or maybe you write essays and yearn to write short stories. Now is the time. 

If you don’t feel like it is something you can just step into, try taking a class. As always, I’m eyeing two WOW classes – “Let’s Get Cozy! How to Write a Cozy Mystery” with Christina Hamlett and “An Introduction to Storytelling Forms” with Madeline Dyer. 

How You Identify 

Maybe your change needs to be in how you think about yourself and your writing. Yesterday, Kelly wrote about the need to call herself an author.  You can read her post here

How you identify is often key in where you put your energy. If your writing is a hobby, that’s how you are going to treat it. As evidenced by the half-finished shawl sitting on my sofa, hobbies come after everything else is done. Calling yourself a writer can be all it takes to give you a reason to prioritize your writing. 

Where and When You Write 

As your life changes, it may be that what worked for you before doesn’t work now. Maybe you struggle to write daily although it used to work for you. Why not schedule two or three times a week to write vs seven? 

Or you might have been a coffee shop writer who now finds it hard to focus amid the whooshing and clinking of a busy cafĂ©. Try writing at your library. My library has tables in public spaces, in study rooms, and in a quiet reading room. 

Shifting gears can be all it takes to get the words and ideas flowing. Why not give it a try? 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 35 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 May 1, 2023).  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 May 1, 2023) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins May 1, 2023).


Angela Mackintosh said...

You are the Idea Queen, Sue! "Back in the olden days" - so funny. :) Yes, I totally agree that switching genres can jump start your creativity, even if you're going through menopause! As you know, I shifted to fiction this past month and I'm loving the freedom and weirdness of it all. I had started to take my writing too seriously. That's great that the pitching class inspired something new. You are amazing, Sue, and I don't know how you keep all your projects straight! Changing where and when you write is a great tip, and I'm going to try that. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Angela,
And we're all really looking forward to seeing some of that fiction! Your nonfiction is so creative and unlike anything I write. It's always an adventure to see what other people create. Here's to a reinvigorated year for the various members of the WOW! community.

Renee Roberson said...

Great post! I think it's great that you're looking into pitching magazine and websites. Those will be a great fit! I also love the idea of taking yourself somewhere different to write. I have a hard time focusing on my novel edits at home. I'm wondering if I should take myself to a different place to get rid of the everyday distractions when I work on that specific project.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I am so easily distracted. But we are talking about a new roof and new siding. I may be more or less living at the library for weeks and weeks. I really don't think my headphones are good enough to block out a nailer.

Ann Kathryn Kelly said...

Shifting gears is a topic that really resonates with me, especially of late! I've found, since starting to query my manuscript a year ago (a half-hearted effort, at best) that I haven't written much new work. An essay here ... a prose poem there ... but for the most part, it's been a dry year. I think the querying process has stolen some of my mojo. But ... I signed up for a 1-day poetry workshop that's happening tomorrow, so I hope to reignite the spark. Baby steps!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Good luck! If I remember correctly, you attended a poetry workshop before and it really inspired your writing. Fingers crossed!

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