Tag Archives: Lisa Sledge

It’s Okay to Take *Little* Breaks

by Lisa Sledge

There were days when I was in high school that I would be so overwhelmed by everything that needed

to be done I would freeze up to the point I could do nothing at all. Being a perfectionist, if I couldn’t get

everything done the way I felt it should be, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but cry if I fell behind.

My mom, however, was wonderful. On those occasions where I had four projects coming due, she could

feel the stress building in me and threatening to take over. Without fail, she would call the school and

tell them I was sick.

We called it an “emotional health” day.

I would sleep in extra late, then spend the day calmly getting caught up on to-do lists for each project.

And I would breathe.

Sometimes everyone needs to take a little guilt-free break. Give yourself a mini-vacation. Stay in bed all

day. Turn off your phone. Give yourself permission not to write a word for one day. Read something

trashy. Eat ice cream and brownies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get caught up on a project, but only

if you feel like it. Nurture a relationship that needs tending.

And don’t feel bad. Schedule time to work on that manuscript the next day and stick to it.

You’ll write better when your mind is clear and you feel rested.

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Filed under CLW


by Lisa Sledge

I was going to query my manuscript immediately after the New Year. I’m not going to make it. There’s is a big gaping problem in my novel, along with a million little ones. My antagonist’s motives aren’t convincing. And I don’t mean that my beta readers are calling me out on it. I haven’t shown it to any beta readers yet. I’m happy to reveal bits and pieces of my work in critique settings, but this problem is so big that there’s no way I’m letting the whole book out of my hands. As soon as anyone reads it from start to finish, I know they’re going to look at me and say, “Huh. Well that was disappointing.”

2015 is looking to be crazy. I’m trying to figure out what I can realistically accomplish. I hate not making my goals. So this is my new list:

Query book by March 1st. Wherever it’s at, however imperfect it is, that is the date I will send my first query.
Keep my children happy and keep them laughing.

That’s it. Two goals. I can do it.

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Filed under Revision, writing process

It’s Hard to Type with a Cat on My Arm

by Lisa Sledge

The problem is the cat’s purring. And his fur is so soft.

Now he’s kneading the bulge of chub on my stomach. That’s not exactly endearing, but it makes him happy and I can’t bring myself to shove him aside. I guess I’ll be writing one handed tonight. I’m such a sucker.

Everyone at my house has running noses and hacking lungs. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, we all look like Rudolph. I’m just grateful that my own cold started last and I got everyone through the worst of theirs. I don’t know what we’ve got, but it came with a solid four days of fever for everyone it’s touched. Our house should be quarantined.

Which brings me, in a very roundabout way, to conflict. Sometimes I forget that an antagonist or opposing force doesn’t have to be a person—it can be anything. Remember your elements of fiction and the sources of conflict?

Man vs. Man
Man vs. Machine
Man vs. Nature
Man vs. Society
Man vs. Self

Too often we think of conflict only in terms of our main storyline, when in truth, it takes a never ending series of smaller conflicts to move your story toward the climax.  It could be something as simple as a cat that gets in the way, a red nose threatening to drip when your MC’s out of tissues, a shoelace that won’t stay tied, or a cell phone that splashes into a pot of soup. My favorite is internal conflict, but I find it’s the hardest to create on a page.

Look for the places in your story that drag, mark them, and see what new problems you can introduce to energize those slower scenes.

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Filed under Character, Family, writing process

An Exercise in Reading

by Lisa Sledge

Want to grow as a writer? Here’s a study tip.

Go to your book shelf at home and pull down your favorite novel. It should be the one you’ve read fifteen times and keep going back to for highlights. Then open your laptop and bring up a new word document.  Create an outline, with each chapter of the book as a new section heading. Then read.

In your outline, record how the author conveys characterization, where they give hints of foreshadowing, and any main events that move the plot along and create the novel’s pace.

It takes a few days, maybe longer, but it will amaze you how the artist’s craft reveals itself and how much you learn about the creation of a good story.


Filed under Exercises, writing process