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When In Doubt…Smile!

By Tina Radcliffe

More often than not you’re going to run into obstacles on this writing journey. Those moments when you feel overwhelmed seem to appear out of nowhere, just when you thought you had everything mapped out.

Obstacles can be anything from time issues, looming contractual deadlines, massive revisions, plot holes, self-doubt, writer’s block, life crisis versus writing or (insert your problem here).

Speaking as a veteran traveler let me share thoughts from the map I keep in my glove box for those moments when confusion reigns and obstacles stand squarely in the road between me and my destination.

1. First things first. Immediately give up. That’s right. Just admit you can’t do it in your own strength and lay it all on the altar.

2. Recall the old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This is exactly how you’re going to deal with your problem. Break it down into small bites. If you have massive revisions, list the issues and deal with them one issue at a time.

3. Begin with tasks you know you can master. Short term success leads to long term success. Are you a great dialogue writer? Then write that tough scene in dialogue first and then layer it in.

4. When you’re stuck, don’t wallow. Move on to something you know you can do. (The writer police will never know you wrote ‘the end’ before you wrote the black moment.)

5. When you really hit a wall, take a break. Do something physical. Clean the refrigerator; take a walk, anything to let your mind work on the problem while you burn off nervous energy.

6. Set a timer. Stay in your chair and focus on one task for the allotted minutes.

7. Remember: one minute at a time, one hour at a time translates to one paragraph at a time, one scene at a time, one chapter at a time.

8. Focus on how far you’ve come, not on how far you have to go.

9. Smile. That’s right. Smile. Numerous studies show that positive feelings translate to better cognition which means you are better able to focus.

It is that simple.

Now fold up your crinkled road map and prepare to eat that elephant.


Tina Radcliffe writes for Love Inspired from her home in the foothills of Colorado. She eats elephants regularly as she juggles her day job and her writing job A 2012 Carol Award finalist, her next release,
Mending the Doctor’s Heart will be available in April 2013. You can find her smiling face at www.tinaradcliffe.com.

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25 Responses to When In Doubt…Smile!

  1. Jeanne T says:

    Tina, I love your optimistic and encouraging suggestions here. Thanks! Since beginning my trek on the writing journey, I’ve regularly given up–my dreams and frustrations to God, that is. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to lay everything at the altar.

  2. Hi Jeanne! And I am regularly overwhelmed so I speak with the voice of authority, LOL.

  3. Donna P says:

    What great advice, Tina! I am easily overwhelmed and often need to remind myself that I can’t handle all things but God can.
    Is elephant on the menu in Seekerville?

  4. If there is a way to cook up elephant Ruthy and Mary would find it. I personally call for pizza!!!!

  5. HI TINA!!!!!!!!!!!! Great blog. Focus on how far I’ve come. I like that.

  6. Joanne Sher says:

    LOVE this. NEEDED this. Thanks, dear Tina. Smiling right now.

  7. Tina, so stinkin’ true! And hey, I can cook an elephant or two and bring them to Seekerville, Donna, LOL!

    Think of it as a VERY BIG PIG ROAST!

    :)

    Everyone has obstacles. I’m taken with folks who quietly climb them, no clamor or bells or look-at-mes involved.

    What a great post, Tina.

  8. Thanks elephant lovers. Breaded Elephant with angel hair pasta and a lovely side salad?

  9. Nancy C says:

    “Focus on how far you’ve come, not on how far you have to go.”

    Writing that on yellow paper and putting it near my computer :-)

    Thanks for some encouraging insight!

    Nancy C

  10. Thanks, Nancy C!!!!

  11. Great post, Tina! I was actually smiling as I read this, and love these tips you’ve offered. Hmmmm…Tina’s Terrific Tried-and-True Tips *wink*. Seriously, I need to print these out and post next to my computer, because some days it’s easy to let doubts sneak in and gain the upper hand. ~ But…if you don’t mind, I’ll leave out the “elephant” part….as a former kindergarten teacher, elephants make me think of lovable characters like Dumbo and Babar…. *smiling* ~ Okay, forging ahead with my writing!! Hugs (and smiles), Patti Jo

  12. Great post, Tina! I definitely need to improve my elephant eating skills, especially at the start of a new novel. And the smiling thing? Oh so true!

  13. Hey, TINA … what if you’re allergic to elephant???

    I know, I know … get out the zoo if you can’t stand the smell … ;)

    GREAT blog, my friend, from a truly GREAT friend!!

    Love you,
    Julie

  14. Terrific reminders Tina. I like the take a break reminder. Often a walk helps clear my mind so that the ideas can flow again.

    Have a great day.

  15. Audra Harders says:

    Good thing I’m student of the Adkins’ Diet because I regularly dine on elephant, LOL. All of your points are so right on track.

    Loved how you started with “Immediately give up.” It’s an eye opener to know that truly is the answer to all our problems.

    Thanks, Tina!!

  16. Georgianna!! What a treat to meet you at ACFW. Not many folks are even nicer in person than online.

  17. LOL, Jules.

    The writing life is one elephant after another, so it’s an acquired taste.

  18. The bottom line is always so simple we forget about it.

  19. Great post, Tina! Such good advice. We’re all hit with doubt and frustration at some time. Need to be prepared to overcome it. Hardest for me is #1.

  20. Virginia says:

    Ooooh, you had me at #1 !!!

    I usually throw my hands in their air and whine a lot… But that surrender isn’t the right kind.

    Loved this post.

  21. Whine with cheese and crackers!! You go, Virginia!

  22. Whine with cheese and crackers!! You go, Virginia!

  23. Patti Jo, I totally get that!!! LOL.

  24. Myra Johnson says:

    Excellent advice, Tina! I didn’t realize elephants could be so appetizing! ;)