10 Ways to Stay Sane When Frustrated With Your Writing

[1] Sometimes, when I’m cutting a deadline too close, I’ll set the TIMER ON THE STOVE and tell myself I’ll write for at least an hour. Rarely have I heard the chime and wanted to stop. And I always feel good about actually using the stove for something.

[2] EATING SNACKS VERY SLOWLY gives a great opportunity to look out the window and contemplate character development. I do my writing in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there’s a pasture across the creek that has cows, wild turkeys and baby donkeys. This probably explains why in almost every one of my books, someone at some point brays with laughter, drinks Wild Turkey and/or chews gum like a cow chewing its cud.

[3] While work is important, at some point it’s good to stop whatever you’re doing and ASSIST YOUR CAT IN GROOMING. Cats love this.

[4] NAPS are a good way to rest your brain, even if you’ve only been up long enough to eat breakfast. I try not to nap past “Oprah” o’clock because then it’s harder to fall asleep at night. Plus, lots of times Oprah has pedophiles and murderers on, and that, my friend, is what we in the biz call “research.”

[5] HGTV, THE DIY NETWORK AND FINE LIVING are great because they remind you that your characters live in houses and give you ideas for how to describe these spaces in interesting ways. For instance, in Triptych, it’s said that Will put down tiles in Angie’s bathroom on a 45-degree angle to make the space look larger. In Broken, I talk a lot about different kinds of trees and plant life. Thank you, “Yard Crashers.”

[6] I love watching BOX SET DVDS OF CABLE TV SHOWS because, like “Oprah,” they can be a shortcut to actually having to research what you’re writing about. Like, I learned a lot about cooking meth from “Breaking Bad,” and “The Tudors” caught me up on basically everything worth knowing about English history. (I studied history in college, and they never mentioned all the hot sex people were having back then. It makes me understand why Texas wants to change their textbooks to make them more historically accurate.)

[7] You can’t get caught up in writing and let the BUSINESS part slip. Sometimes, when I’m stuck on something, I’ll call up my agent and talk about important matters, like whether the license for my Serbian editions will expire in April or May.

[8] If I’m truly desperate, I’ll GO FOR A RUN ON THE TREADMILL and listen to my gym music, which generally includes Madonna and Beyoncé. This might explain why a lot of the women in my books tell men they had better “put a ring on it.”

[9] Sometimes, it’s good to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and find a change of scenery. Since all of my writing is done in a very rural area, getting grocery staples like milk and cupcakes means a 30-minute drive into town. I’m sorry—I’ve kind of lost the thread here. I think the point is that I really like cupcakes.

[10] MMM … CUPCAKES … 

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