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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...
 
 

Break Left to Escape Writer's Rut
by Tama Westman

Do you ever feel like you are writing the same thing over and over and over again? Intro, grabber, the story and the wrap. Different facts or different characters, but it's all so much the same?

It's easy to get into a writer's rut when you happen upon a winning format. I made my editor happy and my client's too when I developed this great skeleton, basic bones for a business advertorial. Three paragraphs containing the basic information, company history, local tie-in and consumer value, coupled with a few fresh photos and everyone was happy. Everyone except me.

Using the template, I was able to produce articles in record time, keep clients and editors and my checking account happy. But, my writing fingers grew itchy. I felt I was filling in the blanks more than doing any actual writing. My high school basketball coach taught me to "break left" at times to keep from telegraphing my next move and to keep the opponents guessing. So, while it may serve you very well to come up with a winning blueprint for a time, either for articles, columns, or novels, there may come a time when you want to break left to recapture your creativity.

For me, this meant throwing out all my normal approaches. I broke free from the blueprint and attacked my next subject with a vigor that had eluded me for months. The resulting article was fresh, snappy and superior to the cookie-cutter articles I had been putting out.

Applying this same approach to my columns, book manuscripts and speaking topics, my writing came alive. I worked even faster with the creative side of my brain operating in full gear. Breaking left in my work with non-profit organizations, I began to key in the heart-tug story first to my articles and annual reports. Breaking left with feature articles, I freed myself from the rulebook, and wrote the most interesting part of the story first to energize the article, and then popped in the details needed to round it out. Rather than starting with an outline, summary and introduction for my latest book project, I broke left and started with the meat of the book, allowing the manuscript to form on its own.

Next time you feel like you're stuck in a rut, a writer's rut, break left. Discard your normal writing habits and take on some new ones. You may discover a whole new side to your writing you never knew existed. The results can be an exhilarating surprise.


Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. An award-winning journalist, she teaches creative writing and poetry with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University, mentors high school journalism students, and speaks at writers conferences throughout the country. Married twenty-four years, and mother of two grown children, she lives in Minnesota. She loves to hear from other writers. Feel free to contact her at tama@tamawestman.com. For more, please visit http://www.tamawestman.com

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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