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12 key steps for getting unstuck as a writer

Trapped in the middle of your manuscript? Here’s how to move forward.

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Give yourself a deadline.

Probably the number one reason students sign up for my novel-writing workshop, or any workshop, is to impose a deadline on their writing. When you know that 14 people are waiting to receive your manuscript on March 14, it focuses your mind tremendously. You have to get it done. It doesn’t need to be perfect; you simply need to get out the pages. Maybe it’s that quest for perfection that slows a lot of people up. That obsessive tinkering, that hope that you will get it exactly right. There’s something freeing about knowing that you can’t revise your work 3,000 times. YOU MUST HIT SEND! So take a workshop. Or join a writers’ group. Or submit to contests. There are a lot of them out there, many of them mentioned in this magazine. NaNoWriMo, which takes place in November, is a great way to just force yourself to put words on a page. You have a month to write 50,000 words. I do it every year and am surprised at how that deadline forces new ideas out of me.

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